Omicron in the US: How the new COVID variant will compete with delta

Twenty-five US states have reported cases of COVID-19 caused by the omicron variant, US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky reported Friday at the White House COVID-19 Response briefing. However, the delta variant remains the dominant variant in the US, responsible for over 99% of COVID-19 cases (which are up 37% from last week), hospitalizations (up 16%) and deaths (28% increase from previous week).

With a virus as contagious as the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, any new variants that are even more transmissible than the original can cloud the path to recovery from a global pandemic. The delta variant, which scientists believe is at least twice as contagious as earlier strains, became the dominant US variant in July 2021 and quickly resulted in a spike of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. The vast majority of deaths and hospitalizations have been in people who are unvaccinated — according to CDC data, unvaccinated people were 14 times more likely to die from COVID-19 in September compared with fully vaccinated people.

After scientists in South Africa identified omicron, the World Health Organization labeled the new variant a “variant of concern,” like delta, and researchers around the globe started the race to answer the questions: How effective are the vaccines and past COVID-19 infections against omicron? How does it compare to delta? Also in response, President Joe Biden issued a travel ban on eight countries in southern Africa where omicron is circulating. Omicron has been detected in many countries around the world, including the US…Read more>>