The Omicron variant multiplies the cases of COVID-19 in the United States but is less severe than the Delta strain

File Photo: Anthony Fauci speaks about the Omicron coronavirus variant at the White House in Washington on December 1, 2021 (REUTERS / Kevin Lamarque)

The Omicron variant of the coronavirus continues to spread throughout the United States and its contagion power caused new cases to increase by 60% in a week, although authorities insist it is less severe than the Delta strain and they defend that reduce periods of isolation.

An average of 240,400 more infections in just 7 days, with an increase in hospitalizations by 14% and deaths by 7%, are the updated data in this country that continues to have almost 40% of its population unvaccinated.

And while the numbers don’t seem encouraging at the moment, the chief epidemiologist of the government chaired by Joe Biden, Anthony Fauci, dared this Wednesday to be more optimistic than on other occasions.

Thus, Fauci expressed his confidence that in a few months the pandemic will reach a “transition” that will lead to the living with the virus but keeping it under “control”, so that covid-19 is still there, but without “disturbing” society or the economy as it has done so far.

In any case, Fauci insisted that the coronavirus, and especially its Omicron variant is “highly transmissible” and “everyone” throughout the country “is now seeing around” that level of contagion.

But he also highlighted several studies done to date that show that this variant is “less severe” than Delta, and cited for example reports showing the less lung damage caused by the omicron compared to its predecessor.

People queuing for a COVID-19 test in New York (REUTERS / Andrew Kelly)
People queuing for a COVID-19 test in New York (REUTERS / Andrew Kelly)

Fauci nevertheless requested Do not let your guard down so as not to cause more stress than some hospital areas already have in this country, the most affected by the pandemic and which has a much lower percentage of vaccination than in other large economies.

For this reason, once again, the health authorities insisted on calling for vaccination and also ask those who are already vaccinated to put on the “fundamental” reinforcement, according to Fauci, to provide the necessary protection against the new variant.

Vaccine boosters return those who wear them to the “optimal” level of protection needed, said Biden’s government chief epidemiologist, who nonetheless He did not want to speculate on the need for a fourth injection.

To questions from journalists about this possibility, Fauci defended going “step by step” and although he admitted that this fourth dose may be necessary later, he now insisted on focus on getting the third or getting vaccinated those who have not already done so.

Five days is enough

A 'Masks required to board' sign is seen at a gate at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (REUTERS / Elijah Nouvelage)
A ‘Masks required to board’ sign is seen at a gate at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (REUTERS / Elijah Nouvelage)

Thursday’s appearance comes just two days after the Centers for Disease Control recommended shorten the quarantine period for those infected with asymptomatic covid-19 from ten to five days.

The decision was made under the argument that most infections occur at the beginning of the disease, on the first and second days of onset of symptoms and two or three days after.

At the appearance, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC, in English), Rochelle Walensky, defended this decision that has not been extensive of controversy, among other things because it is produced after the request of various economic sectors – such as airlines – to cut quarantine times due to the increase in casualties of its infected personnel.

The losses have been precisely the reason given by the companies to explain the thousands of flights canceled or delayed in recent days.

After remembering that the level of transmission is very high in the two days before presenting symptoms and between two and three days after, assured that “five days after” the last symptoms the risk of contagion “drops substantially”.

He also considered it unnecessary to do more tests from that moment on, because as he warned there are cases in which the PCR tests positive up to 12 weeks after infection, and that does not mean that the infected person is contagious.

Federal aid to the states

People wearing masks attend a Catholic mass at St. Patrick's Cathedral in Manhattan, New York (REUTERS / Andrew Kelly)
People wearing masks attend a Catholic mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Manhattan, New York (REUTERS / Andrew Kelly)

Given the rapid spread of infections, the Biden government last week took extraordinary measures to face this new stage and this Thursday the coordinator of the White House response team, Jeff Zients, insisted on sending state governments a message: “If you need something, ask for it”.

He thus recalled that the United States Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has sent personnel and resources to various states, such as New York. —Medicals, ambulances, and testing centers— Arizona, New Mexico and Wisconsin, among others.

The government expects the $ 500 million contract in antigen testing promised by President Joe Biden to help address the surge in cases to be completed by the end of next week. and for manufacturers’ deliveries to begin in January, said White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator Jeff Zients.

(With information from EFE and Reuters)

Keep reading:

Omicron infection “is not the same disease” as other COVID-19 variants, said an Oxford expert
Uruguay confirmed its first cases of the Omicron variant
Ecuador reaches its highest number of COVID-19 infections since July
Omicron cases fall as fast as they rose in South Africa: has the peak of the wave passed?
Spain reduced the mandatory quarantine from 10 to 7 days for positive cases of COVID-19

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