Federal health authorities in the United States have said that the Omicron Covid-19 variant is so contagious that most people in the US are likely to be infected and compared the pandemic to a “natural disaster.”
Officials said that even as Omicron breaks records for new cases, they are hopeful the increase will decline rapidly, saying the US should focus on ensuring hospital systems do not collapse amid the increase.
“I think it is difficult to process what is really happening right now, which is [that] most people are going to get covid, okay? ” said Janet Woodcock, acting director of the Food and Drug Administration. “What we have to do is make sure that the hospitals can continue to function … [that] transportation, other essential services are not interrupted while this is happening ”.
Woodcock made the remarks at a Senate hearing where senators, especially Republicans, harshly questioned administration officials tasked with responding to the pandemic, including Woodcock, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ( CDC), Rochelle Walensky, and the president’s medical director. advisor, Anthony Fauci.
With several major mutations, the Omicron variant has spread rapidly around the world, breaking records for new cases daily in the US. CDC reports that the variant is now responsible for more than 98% of Covid-19 cases in the US, replacing Delta in less than a month.
At the same time, the variant is believed to be less lethal than previous strains and there is some evidence that it can peak quickly.
However, although Omicron sends fewer patients to the hospital as a proportion of total cases, the flood of cases has put hospitals, schools and businesses under pressure, filling beds, causing staff shortages and causing a return to remote activities.
An average of more than 761,000 Americans a day tested positive for COVID-19 on Tuesday, the day of the hearing, according to the New York Times. This count is even known to be a very low count, because few people report positive results of rapid home tests to health authorities.
On the same day last year, also the peak of a winter surge, an average of 251,232 people tested positive for COVID-19.
Although Omicron emphasizes essential systems, severe disease is not inevitable, and health authorities stressed the importance of vaccination to reduce the likelihood of severe disease. The CDC is also considering a recommendation that Americans wear N95 and KN95 masks, rather than cloth, if possible.
Later, Fauci echoed Woodcock’s comments, that most Americans are likely infected with the variant, at the Centers for Strategic and International Studies, a think tank in Washington. He added that comparatively few vaccinated and boosted Americans will face hospitalization and death.
“Omicron, with its extraordinary and unprecedented degree of transmissibility efficiency, will finally find almost everyone,” Fauci told J. Stephen Morrison, senior vice president of the Center for Strategic and International Studies. CNN reported.
“Those who have been vaccinated… and reinforced would be exposed. Some, perhaps many of them, will become infected but most likely, with a few exceptions, they will do reasonably well in the sense of not having hospitalization or death, “he said. People who haven’t been vaccinated are much more likely to “get the worst of the serious side of it.”
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism