(UNITED STATES – Dr. Fauci) – The United States is likely to face harsh winter as the omicron variant of the new coronavirus spreads rapidly, warned Dr. Anthony Fauci. This, he said, will strain a health care system already strained by the delta variant.
“It’s going to be dominant,” Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert, said of the omicron variant on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday. The specialist urged Americans to get vaccinated and get their booster doses. “And be cautious in everything else you do: when traveling indoors that are congregated, wear a mask.”
“We can’t run away from this, Jake, we can’t,” he told CNN’s, Jake Tapper. “With omicron, what we’re dealing with, there’s going to be some tough weeks or months ahead as we get into the winter.” (SIC)
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), cases of omicron are doubling every 1.5 to 3 days with documented spread. And in the U.S., it is expected to become the “dominant strain” in the coming weeks, the director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday. (CDC).
The United States now faces a resurgent coronavirus as the pandemic moves into its third year: the country averaged 126,967 new cases per day as of Saturday, according to Johns Hopkins University data, up from an average of just over 70,000 new cases per day in early November.
“This omicron variant is extraordinarily contagious. It’s as contagious as measles, and that’s the most contagious virus we’ve seen,” CNN medical analyst Jonathan Reiner said Saturday, warning that a “tsunami” was coming for unvaccinated Americans.
Scientists say it is still too early to know whether omicron causes a milder form of covid-19. But regardless, it will put pressure on the health care system, Reiner said.
“Why would you go into that kind of battle completely unarmed?” said Reiner, a professor of medicine and surgery at the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences. “Our vaccines will protect you, especially if you have triple vaccination. People who are not vaccinated should start the process now. Go to your pharmacy and get vaccinated.”
It’s essential to remain vigilant to help keep hospitals from being “inundated,” he added. Even if omicron ends up causing a less severe infection than delta, the sheer number of infections omicron could generate would overwhelm U.S. hospitals.
More than 69,000 people are hospitalized with covid-19 in the U.S., and covid-19 patients occupy more than 20% of all ICU beds.
“We need to protect our health care system,” Reiner said. “And that’s why every American should wear a mask and get vaccinated right now because our health care infrastructure is at stake right now.”
According to the White House, President Joe Biden will meet with his covid-19 response team regarding the latest developments with the omicron variant.
The meeting will occur before a message scheduled for Tuesday when the president will discuss the variant, new steps the administration is taking and issue another “stern warning of what winter will look like for Americans who choose to remain unvaccinated,” The White House said.
According to CDC data, about 61.4% of the total U.S. population is fully vaccinated. In addition, about 32.1% of fully vaccinated adults have received a booster dose, which health officials point to as a crucial line of defense against the omicron variant. And yet many of those eligible for a booster dose has not.
The protection offered by two-dose mRNA vaccines, such as those produced by Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna, is “pretty good, particularly against serious diseases,” Fauci said Sunday.
“But when you get to omicron, the protection drops significantly,” he said. “But the good news is that when you give someone a booster dose, it goes back up.”
According to data recently released by the CDC, unvaccinated people face a 20 times greater risk of dying from covid-19 and ten times greater risk of testing positive than fully vaccinated people who have also received a booster dose.
The data suggest that the risk gap between unvaccinated people and those who received a booster is even larger than between unvaccinated people and those who are fully vaccinated with their initial schedule.
Dr. Francis Collins, the outgoing director of the National Institutes of Health, told CBS “Face the Nation” on Sunday that people should not wait to get a booster dose.
The Yucatan Times