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US faces double spike in coronavirus as omicron advances

The new omicron coronavirus accelerating around the world could trigger another wave of chaos, threatening to further strain hospital workers already grappling with a surge of cases in the countryside. equal and spend the holiday plan for the second year in a row.

The White House on Wednesday insisted the shutdown was not necessary because the vaccine is widely available and appears to offer protection against the worst consequences of the virus. But even if omicrons are generally milder than delta, it could negate some of the life-saving tools available and put particularly immunocompromised and elderly people at risk when it starts. launch a swift attack on the United States.

“The rise of our delta is happening and, in fact, accelerating. And on top of that, we’re going to add an omicron boost,” said Dr. Jacob Lemieux, who tracks variations for a research collaboration led by Harvard Medical School.

“That’s alarming, because our hospitals are already full. Staff are fatigued, “leaving a limited capacity to crush potential COVID-19 cases” from an omicron wave superimposed on a delta rise. “

Most likely, he and other experts said at a news conference on Tuesday, an omicron surge is underway in the United States, with the latest mutated coronavirus far outstripping the nation’s ability to track.

Based on samples collected last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says omicrons account for about 3% of genome-sequenced coronaviruses nationwide. The percentage varies by region, highest – 13% – in the New York/New Jersey area.

But Harvard experts say these are likely underestimations because omicrons are moving so fast that surveillance efforts can’t keep up.

Globally, more than 75 countries have reported confirmed cases of omicrons. In the United States, 36 states have discovered this variant. Meanwhile, deltas are surging in many places, with hotspots in New England and the upper Midwest. The five states with a two-week average incidence per 100,000 inhabitants are New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Michigan, Minnesota, and Vermont.

Universities suddenly closed classrooms during the closing week with the rate of infection increasing rapidly. The NBA is postponing games and the NFL has had its worst two-day outbreak since the start of the pandemic, with dozens of players infected.

Outside the US, the president of the European Union said the omicron would become the dominant variant in a month, and stated that “once again, this year’s Christmas will be covered by a pandemic”.

Scientists around the world are racing to learn about the omicron, which has a troubling number of mutations in key regions of its genetic makeup that could affect how far it spreads from one person to another. How quickly the number of cases doubles, known as the “doubling time”, can predict a possible disease burden by several weeks.

CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said on Wednesday that early data shows that omicrons are more transmissible than delta, with a doubling time of about two days.

In the UK, where omicron cases double every two to three days, this variant is thought to soon replace delta as the dominant strain in the water.

“The data in the UK are quite alarming at this point, and foreshadow what’s to come in the US,” said Bronwyn MacInnis, director of germline genomics monitoring at MIT and Harvard’s Broad Institute. For example, she said, on Tuesday afternoon, the omicron was already the most common variant in London.

In many ways, the omicron remains a mystery. Suggestions are emerging from South Africa, where it was first reported, that it may cause less severe disease than the plains but is better at dodging a vaccine.

However, MacInnis warns: “There’s more that we don’t know about this variant than we do, including the severity.”

At the same time, Lemieux said, there seem to be fewer tools to combat it. Some monoclonal antibody treatments don’t work well with omicrons in lab tests, Lemieux said. Vaccines appear to offer less protection, although CDC officials say booster shots increase that protection.

Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, said on Wednesday there was no need for an omicron-specific booster shot. Fauci said the two-dose mRNA vaccines, the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, still appear to offer significant protection against omicron-induced hospitalization.

“If we don’t have these tools, I’ll tell you to be really worried,” Fauci said.

Jeff Zient, the White House’s coronavirus response coordinator, said the US has the tools to fight the virus, including omicrons, and “doesn’t need to be locked down.” With vaccines now available to 95% of Americans, “we know how to keep our kids in school and our businesses open. And we won’t close. “

Health officials urge Americans to get vaccinated, get booster shots, wear face masks indoors, and get tested before traveling and before focusing on vacations.

Michael Fraser, CEO of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials, said in a statement: “Hospital capacity has been at breakout levels in many states due to severe cases of COVID. -19.

Given the high level of transmission, MacInnis said there are bound to be serious cases.

“No matter how severely it affects healthy, fully vaccinated and health-promoting populations, it will still hit those most vulnerable,” she said. the most vulnerable of us. “So the elderly, immunocompromised, other vulnerable populations will remain at greatest risk and will still bear the brunt of this.”

https://kfor.com/news/coronavirus/us-faces-a-double-coronavirus-surge-as-omicron-advances/ US faces double spike in coronavirus as omicron advances

JACLYN DIAZ

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