- Sputnik International, 1920
Omicron COVID Strain
The new COVID variant was initially detected in South Africa and Botswana and sparked major concerns due to its high number of mutations (32). The WHO dubbed the strain Omicron and warned it may prove to be more transmissible and dangerous than other coronavirus variants.

'Large Wave' of Omicron COVID Cases is Coming to US, Biden Administration Official Warns

© REUTERS / CARLO ALLEGRIPeople queue for a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) test in Times Square during the COVID-19 pandemic in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., December 13, 2021
People queue for a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) test in Times Square during the COVID-19 pandemic in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., December 13, 2021 - Sputnik International, 1920, 14.12.2021
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.

A vial and a syringe are seen in front of a displayed United States' flag and words Omicron SARS-CoV-2 in this illustration taken, November 27, 2021. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration - Sputnik International, 1920, 14.12.2021
Omicron Now Makes Up 2.9% of Coronavirus Variants Circulating in US – CDC
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.
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