'Large Wave' of Omicron COVID Cases is Coming to US, Biden Administration Official Warns
18:00 GMT 14.12.2021 (Updated: 12:53 GMT 10.11.2022)
At present, according to the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the new Omicron strain accounts for some 2.9% of all coronavirus cases in the country.
The United States should brace for an explosion of Omicron coronavirus cases in light of what the preliminary data from South Africa and Europe shows about its spread, an unnamed senior Biden administration official has told Axios
"Everything points to a large wave. A large wave is coming", the official suggested. "It will be fast. It won't be as severe, but regrettably, there will be plenty of hospitalisations".
Discovery Health analysis of the South African data shows that the risk of hospital admission among adults diagnosed with the Omicron variant is 29% lower than it was during South Africa's first outbreak in 2020.
Vaccine effectiveness analysis found that 41% of 211,000 positive COVID-19 test results were from those people who received both jabs of the Pfizer-BioNTech drug.
During the Omicron wave, the vaccines were 70% effective against severe courses of illness that require hospitalisation. Yet, the two doses of Pfizer appear to be only 33% effective when it comes to protection from getting infected with Omicron.
It is still too early to make firm predictions about how the Omicron strain is going to affect the already burnt-out US healthcare system, the experts noted.
"Frankly we don't have enough reliable, robust data at this point to give a clear direction as to what this will look like in the weeks to months ahead", Michael Osterholm, director of the Centre for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, told Axios.
14 December 2021, 15:31 GMT
The rapid spread of Omicron has already prompted nations in Europe to tighten coronavirus restrictions. The United Kingdom, having announced its first Omicron-related death on Monday, is already boosting the vaccination efforts, with reports suggesting that the possibility of a new lockdown is being considered by the government.