Omicron threatens to worsen dangerous Covid-19 surge in US
Two years into the coronavirus pandemic, the United States is confronting another dark winter, with the Omicron variant threatening to worsen an already dangerous surge of cases.
Hospitalizations for COVID-19 have jumped 45% over the last month, and confirmed cases have increased 40% to a weeklong average of 123,000 new U.S. infections a day, according to a Reuters tally.
The Omicron variant appears to be far more transmissible than previous iterations of the virus, and more agile in evading immune defenses, according to early studies.
Public health officials say it is likely to become the dominant variant in the U.S., following fast-moving spreads in countries such as South Africa and the United Kingdom, and could strain hospitals still struggling to contain this summer's Delta variant surge.
Preliminary data in South Africa suggests Omicron leads to milder illness than the Delta variant, which is still driving much of the current wave of infections. But a British study released on Friday found no difference in severity between the two variant.
Either way, Omicron's extraordinary level of infectiousness means it could cause many additional deaths, the top U.S. infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, said on Friday.