Omicron now 95% of new COVID-19 infections in U.S., CDC estimates

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The Omicron variant made up round 95.4% of new COVID-19 circumstances in the U.S. final week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention mentioned in an up to date estimate published on Tuesday. Only two areas of the U.S. — New England and half of the Midwest — have but to achieve 90% domestically. The Delta variant, which was dominant up till a couple of weeks in the past, makes up almost all the opposite circumstances.

Earlier federal estimates confirmed Omicron quickly spreading, however with labs in a number of states nonetheless engaged on sequencing their first outbreaks of the variant, the exact numbers have been exhausting to pin down.

However, in the weeks since, CDC officers have mentioned the company has labored to refine its projections of the variant’s development as extra labs have sequenced Omicron circumstances. The CDC collects data from business and native public well being laboratories, in addition to from its personal contractors, to trace variants in the nation and produce its “Nowcast” estimates. 

For shoppers, normal COVID take a look at outcomes do not distinguish between Omicron, Delta or different variants, however labs are capable of sequence the genome of the virus to determine the pressure that induced a constructive take a look at.

The new estimates come as rising information on Omicron’s unfold in the U.S. and overseas has enabled researchers to higher predict the course of the present wave fueled by the variant.

In a new round of forecasts launched this week from the COVID-19 Scenario Modeling Hub, which compiles information from greater than a dozen main analysis organizations, most fashions chart a “sharp and fast” enhance in circumstances anticipated to peak “before the end of January 2022” in each state. 

The tempo of new circumstances, hospitalizations and deaths are anticipated to start to sluggish by way of March, however “are projected to remain elevated” in comparison with the low ranges seen in June final year. 

Despite rising proof of Omicron’s decrease particular person danger of extreme sickness, the fashions recommend the pressure stays harmful sufficient that the present wave will result in hospitalization charges topping the Delta variant’s worst days.

“There’s been so much talk of just saying, ‘oh, it’s just so much less severe. It’s cold-like.’ Sure, maybe it’s similar to some of those things in terms of severity. But this virus is so much more transmissible than all of those things,” says Johns Hopkins University’s Shaun Truelove.

Truelove has helped lead the consortium’s work with the Biden administration to coordinate modeling work from throughout a number of groups plotting coming waves of the virus. 

“Just by sheer numbers, we’re going to get a lot of hospitalizations,” warned Truelove. 

Also complicating the battle in opposition to Omicron: Doctors are going through a scarcity of COVID-19 medicine that can work in opposition to the highly-mutated variant.

Of the monoclonal antibody remedies presently approved for COVID-19, solely two medicine — one made by AstraZeneca and one from GlaxoSmithKline and Vir Biotechnology — seem to stay efficient in opposition to Omicron. 

The Biden administration recently lifted curbs on the distribution of monoclonal antibodies from Regeneron and Eli Lilly, pointing to “significant variability” in Omicron’s prevalence across the nation and new guidelines printed by the National Institutes of Health on prioritizing restricted provides of the medicine. 

Some scientists had speculated early in Omicron’s rise that the U.S. may see “co-circulation” with Delta. However, the CDC’s new estimates recommend the share of circumstances that may profit from these monoclonal antibody medicine is rapidly shrinking in each half of the nation.

In HHS Region 7, which spans Iowa, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska, Omicron is now estimated to make up 77.4% of new infections by way of New Year’s Day. In HHS Region 1, which incorporates Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont, the CDC mentioned Omicron’s prevalence was 82.4%. 

All different areas are above 90%.

Alexander Tin

CBS News reporter masking public well being and the pandemic.

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