Omicrons now account for nearly 3% of Covid cases in the US, according to the CDC

People receive a COVID-19 test at a COVID-19 testing site on the streets of Manhattan on December 8, 2021 in New York.

Liao Pan | China News Service | beautiful pictures

The Covid-19 omicron variant, first detected in southern Africa about a month ago, now accounts for about 3% of all cases in the US, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

While the delta variant remains dominant in the US with around 97% of all Covid cases analyzed, omicrons are rapidly gaining ground. According to the CDC, the new variant accounted for about 2.9% of all cases last week, up from 0.4% the week before.

More than two dozen states have reported omicron cases to date. California first confirmed an omicron case in the US on December 1 in a resident who flew to San Francisco from South Africa. But the CDC on Friday said it had confirmed an earlier case of omicron in a patient who developed symptoms on Nov. 15. It’s unclear when the variant first arrived in the US.

The CDC on Friday said one vaccinated person was hospitalized with omicrons, but no deaths have been reported. out of 43 patients who were followed. The most common symptoms by far are cough, fatigue, stuffy nose, and runny nose.

Of those patients, 58% were between the ages of 18 and 39 and 79% had been fully vaccinated at least 14 days before showing symptoms or testing positive.

The CDC reports that 33% of the 43 patients had traveled internationally in the 14 days before developing symptoms or testing positive, indicating that community transmission is underway in the US.

Scientists and public health experts say omicrons are highly contagious, although little is known about whether the variant that causes the disease is milder or more severe than delta. United Kingdom issued Covid alert level 4 on Sunday, one order of magnitude lower than the highest warning level. Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday confirmed the first omicron death in the UK on Monday, warned that Britain faces a “tide wave” of omicron infections.

UK Health Secretary Sajid Javid said on Monday that omicrons were spreading at an “extraordinary” rate with cases doubling every few days. Last week, Javid warned that the UK facing more than 1 million omicron cases by year end.

CDC Director Rochelle Walenksy said on Friday that the US does not face the same time of emergency as the UK over omicrons. “I don’t expect it to be the same time as the UK and we’re continuing to monitor cases and we’ll be looking at that carefully,” she said in a White House update on Friday.

However, Dr Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, believes that omicrons may soon surpass delta in the US.

“It’s only a matter of time before omicron becomes the dominant variant here, and I think that could happen relatively quickly,” Osterholm told CNBC on Thursday.

The US is reporting nearly 120.00 new cases per day, based on seven-day average data compiled by Johns Hopkins University, unchanged over the past week but up 25% from pre-Thanksgiving.

About 66,500 Americans have been hospitalized with Covid-19, according to seven-day average of Health and Human Services data through Monday, up 22% over the past two weeks. Although rising, this number is still below the peak of the delta wave when more than 100,000 patients were hospitalized with the virus in early September. Omicrons now account for nearly 3% of Covid cases in the US, according to the CDC

Ryan Perry

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