Since seemingly everybody in the US either knows somebody who is sick, or is sick themselves, millions of Americans are about to start loudly questioning why they bothered to get three shots if it wasn’t enough to stop them from eventually getting sick.
Many assumed this latest wave was all omicron, but as we reported last night, the CDC has lowered its estimate for omicron’s prevalence from 70%+ all the way down to 59%. That’s the percentage of sequenced COVID cases that were confirmed to omicron during the past week.
It looks like Dr. Fauci is going to have a lot more explaining to do.
Globally, the number of newly confirmed COVID cases topped 1M for a second straight day as the hyper-infectious omicron has helped to drive the latest seasonal wave.
As a result, countries are tightening restrictions on international travel targeted at Americans, while Dr. Fauci exhorts Washington to respond with restrictions on domestic travel for all Americans, along with more restrictions on foreigners traveling to the US, per BBG.
The Netherlands will now require travelers arriving from the US to self-quarantine for up to ten days.
Hospitalizations are spiking from New South Wales to New York State (although Australia is still nowhere near the level of virality seen in the US).
As cases surge to record levels down under, the Australian government is scrambling to change its testing rules to clear up congestion at test sites.
Their problem isn’t so different from what’s happening in the UK and the US, per Reuters.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Wednesday Australia needed “a gear change” to manage overburdened laboratories and get people out of isolation. He called a snap meeting of the national cabinet on Thursday.
“We just can’t have everybody just being taken out of circulation because they just happen to be at a particular place at a particular time,” Morrison said during a media briefing.
Morrison’s plan would prioritize urgent cases while relying more on rapid antigen tests, which are being used in the US.
Since cases are surging, omicron has proven it has a lower hospitalization rate than previous variants. The only problem is that with so many new cases, inevitably, there are going to be more hospitalizations as well.
Elsewhere, the government of Tokyo confirmed 76 new coronavirus cases in the capital on Wed., the most since Oct. 9 (although the number of serious cases dropped from 2 to 1).
Here’s some more COVID news:
- Malaysia has become the latest country to lift a travel ban on the eight south African countries that the US also imposed restrictions upon after the discovery of omicron.
- India is stepping up defenses against a possible third wave of coronavirus infections caused by omicron by implementing a slew of measures, including approving two more vaccines as well as Merck’s COVID-19 pill, and expanding its inoculation drive to those aged 15 to 18.
- In the UK, a sharp rise in NHS staff absences due to sickness because of COVID is threatening to hamper patient care, health leaders have warned, as the number of hospitalizations in England hit the highest level in 9 months.
And as we reported yesterday, France has decided to require more people to work from home. As for when the winter wave might peak, scientists are looking to last year’s wave, and estimating that the surge in cases will peak some time between early January and early February.