The rapid development of new omicron coronavirus mutants around the world may bring another wave of chaos, which may further aggravate the pressure on hospital staff who are already responding to the surge in delta cases and subverting the vacation plan for the second year in a row.
The White House insisted on Wednesday that there is no need for a lockdown because vaccines are widely available and appear to prevent the most serious consequences of the virus. However, even if omicron proves to be milder than delta in general, it may disarm some of the available life-saving tools and put elderly and elderly people with weakened immunity in a particularly dangerous situation, as it begins a rapid attack on the United States. .
“Our delta surge is continuing, in fact, accelerating. In addition, we will add an omicron surge,” said Dr. Jacob Lemieux, who monitors a research collaboration led by Harvard Medical School Mutations.
“This is worrying because our hospital is already overcrowded. The staff is exhausted,” “microwave waves from superimposed on the delta wave” may result in limited potential for squeezing COVID-19 cases.
He and other experts said at a press conference on Tuesday that the most likely scenario is that the United States has begun to see a surge in omicrons, and the latest mutated coronavirus exceeds the ability of the United States to track it.
Based on samples collected last week, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stated that omicron accounts for approximately 3% of the nation’s genetically sequenced coronaviruses. The percentage varies by region, with the highest-13%-in the New York/New Jersey area.
But Harvard experts said that these may be underestimated, because omicron is developing so fast that surveillance attempts cannot keep up.
Globally, more than 75 countries have reported confirmed cases of omicron. In the United States, this variant has been detected in 36 states. At the same time, the delta is soaring in many places, with hot spots in New England and the upper Midwest. The five states with the highest rolling average number of cases per 100,000 two weeks are New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Michigan, Minnesota, and Vermont.
The university suddenly closed classrooms during the final exam week, and the number of infections increased rapidly. The NBA is postponing games, and the NFL broke out in its worst two-day outbreak since the pandemic began, with dozens of players being infected.
Outside the United States, the EU president stated that omicron will become the dominant variant within a month and announced that “this Christmas will be overwhelmed by a pandemic again.”
Scientists all over the world are racing to understand omicron, which has a large number of worrying mutations in important areas of its genetic structure, and these mutations may affect its spread from person to person. The speed at which the number of cases doubles (called “doubling time”) can provide a preview of the disease burden in a few weeks.
CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said on Wednesday that early data showed that omicron is more communicable than delta, doubling time in about two days.
In the UK, the number of omicron cases doubles every two to three days, and it is expected that this variant will soon replace delta as the country’s main strain.
Bronwyn McGinnis, director of pathogen genome monitoring at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard University, said: “The British data is very shocking at this point,” and heralds what will happen in the United States. For example, she said that by Tuesday afternoon, omicron was already the most common variant in London.
In many ways, omicron remains a mystery. South Africa, where it was reported for the first time, has shown some hints that it may cause milder disease than delta, but is better at evading vaccines.
However, MacInnis warned: “We know much more about this variation than we know, including its severity.”
At the same time, Lemieux said, there seem to be fewer tools to fight it. Lemieux said that in laboratory tests, some monoclonal antibody treatments did not work well for omicron. Vaccines seem to provide less protection, but CDC officials say that boosting injections will strengthen this protection.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, a top US infectious disease expert, said on Wednesday that there is no need for specific booster injections of omicron at this time. Fauci said that two doses of mRNA vaccines, Pfizer and Moderna injections, still seem to provide considerable protection against hospitalization due to omicron.
“If we don’t have these tools, I will tell you really, really want to worry,” Fauci said.
Jeff Zients, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, said that the United States has the tools to fight the virus, including omicron, “there is no need to lock down.” Now 95% of Americans can be vaccinated, “We know how to keep our children in school and keep our businesses open. And we will not close.”
Health officials called on Americans to get vaccinations, booster shots, wear masks indoors, and be tested before travel and holiday gatherings.
“Due to the severe cases of COVID-19, hospital capacity in many states is already at a tipping point,” said Michael Fraser, chief executive of the Association of State and Territory Health Officials, in a statement.
McGinnis said that given the high level of transmission, there will undoubtedly be serious cases.
“No matter how severe it affects the health, fully vaccinated and boosted populations, it will deal the most severe blow to the most vulnerable among us,” she said. “Therefore, the elderly, the immune-compromised and other vulnerable groups will still face the greatest risks and bear the brunt.”