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Omicron is now prevalent coronavirus strain in US, accounting for 73% of cases

By Ishika Dangayach on Dec 21, 2021 | 03:31 AM IST


CDC said that Omicron has surpassed the Delta version of the coronavirus in the U.S.

Pacific Northwest, South, and portions of the Midwest, already account for more than 90% of new infections

The Omicron variant was responsible for more than 70% of recent Covid-19 cases in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), indicating the virus's significant rise in infectiousness when compared to prior variants of the virus.

The CDC said on Monday that Omicron has surpassed the Delta version of the coronavirus in the United States, accounting for an estimated 73 percent of infection in the week ending December 18.

In other parts of the country, such as the Pacific Northwest, the South, and portions of the Midwest, already accounts for more than 90% of new infections.

Read more: Trump gets booed for saying he received Covid booster shot

President Biden further warned that the Omicron is spreading more quickly in the U.S., that it could be a winter of severe disease and death for those who have not been vaccinated.

The World Health Organization (WHO) on Saturday said as the winter holiday season approaches, the omicron virus is raging throughout the world. The strain has been identified through testing in 43 of the 50 U.S. states and around 90 countries, with the number of cases doubling every 1.5 to 3 days in regions with community transmission.

Biden is to provide an update on the fight against Covid-19 in the U.S. Just before that on Monday night, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said that a midlevel worker who had been in close proximity to President Biden for around 30 minutes last week had tested positive for Covid-19. Mr. Biden tested negative for Covid-19 on Monday and will be tested again on Wednesday, according to Psaki.

Read more: California reimposes indoor mask mandate as Omicron variant spreads

Omicron variant origination 

On November 24, 2021, the World Health Organization (WHO) received notification of a new variety of SARS-CoV-2, B.1.1.529. This new variety was discovered in specimens taken in Botswana on November 11, 2021, and in South Africa on November 14, 2021.

WHO designated the B.1.1.529 Omicron as a Variant of Concern (VOC) on November 26, 2021, while the U.S declared Omicron as a VOC on November 30, 2021, and the first verified U.S. case of Omicron was detected on December 1, 2021.

Read more: Pfizer and BioNTech lab study claim booster shot can neutralize Omicron strain

WEF postpone 

The World Economic Forum postponed its annual conference of world leaders, billionaires, and executives in Davos, Switzerland, on Monday owing to concerns over the spread of Omicron.

In a statement, the World Economic Forum said, “The World Economic Forum will defer its Annual Meeting in Davos, Switzerland, in the light of continued uncertainty over the Omicron outbreak.”

"It's now planned for early summer."

Read more: WHO member nations vote to start drafting plan to deal with future pandemics

The summit was slated to take place from January 17 to January 21. The transmissibility of Omicron and its impact on travel have made it difficult to host the in-person gathering next month, WEF said. 

Moreover, on Monday, New York state recorded a record number of Covid-19 infections for the fourth consecutive day, with officials reporting that 23,391 persons had tested positive for the virus. A little more than 4,000 individuals were hospitalized across the state, compared to a record of over 19,000 in April of 2020.

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Despite evidence that the new variant is not more severe than the Delta variant, early research shows that Omicron may be more infectious and may have higher vaccination resistance.

Inputs from WSJ

Picture Credits: CNBC 

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