The World Health Organization warned this week that Omicron is spreading rapidly in countries with high levels of population immunity.
“Given currently available data, it is likely that Omicron will outpace Delta where community transmission occurs,” the agency said in a statement.
First detected in South Africa, Omicron has circulated to more than 89 countries, with cases doubling nearly every day, health officials noted.
The United Nations Health Agency added Omicron’s substantial growth advantage over Delta.
“Preliminary findings of vaccine effectiveness studies (test-negative design) were obtained from South Africa and England, the United Kingdom,” The WHO stated.
“Available preliminary data to be interpreted with caution as the designs may be subject to selection bias and the results are based on relatively small numbers. However, results from England indicate a significant reduction in vaccine effectiveness against symptomatic disease for Omicron compared to Delta after two vaccine doses of either Pfizer BioNTech-Comirnaty or AstraZeneca-Vaxzevria vaccines.”
The statement continued:
“There was, however, higher effectiveness two weeks after a Pfizer BioNTech-Comirnaty booster, which was slightly lower or comparable to that against Delta. A non-peer-reviewed study by South African researchers using private health insurance data reported reductions in vaccine effectiveness of the Pfizer BioNTech-Comirnaty vaccine against infection, and to a lesser degree against hospitalization.”
Health officials at Johns Hopkins University noted that the United States now averages 121,707 new COVID-19 cases each day.
New case rates are up by 3 percent over September, and in the Northeast, Midwest, and South are increasing faster than anywhere else.
New York, where Broadway shows and other activities have begun to shutter, accounted for 10 percent of new cases over the past week.
According to JHU, deaths are also up, with the country averaging about 1,286 each day – or 8 percent higher than a week ago.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, health officials have administered approximately 1.8 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines each day over the past week.
More than half of those doses have been boosters, and about 407,000 people are initiating vaccination each day.
“As we head into the winter and confront a new variant, we must resolve to keep fighting this virus together. This means getting vaccinated and getting your booster shot, and taking other preventive measures, such as masking,” President Joe Biden said in a statement.
“The vaccines are safe, effective, free, easy, and our best tool to prevent more loss and pain. If you were fully vaccinated before mid-June, please get your booster shot as soon as possible. And if you haven’t already – please get yourself and your school-age children vaccinated. I urge all Americans to do their patriotic duty to keep our country safe, protect yourself and those around you, and honor the memory of all those we have lost. Now is the time.”