(CMR) Omicron is reportedly now the dominant version of the coronavirus in the U.S., accounting for 73% of new infections last week, federal health officials said Monday.
According to AP, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said there was nearly a six-fold increase in omicron’s share of infections in only one week. The variant has now been detected in all but two states- Oklahoma and North Dakota.
Omicron is said to be responsible for an estimated 90% of new infections in the New York area, the Southeast, the industrial Midwest, and the Pacific Northwest.
AP reported that more than 99.5% of coronavirus cases in the US at the end of November were the delta variant. However, by the second week of December, about 13% of the infections were omicron. This has since increased significantly.
“This sharp rise in omicron was expected and is similar to what has been seen worldwide,” the CDC said in a statement Monday. “We know layered prevention strategies can slow the spread of COVID-19.”
The World Health Organization and the CDC have identified omicron as a variant of concern.
“This virus is extraordinary. It has a doubling time of anywhere from two to three days,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, chief medical adviser to the White House, said on Sunday during an appearance on CNN’s State of the Union.
Much is not known about the omicron variant remains unknown, including whether it causes more or less severe illness. However, early studies suggest the vaccinated will need a booster shot for the best chance at preventing omicron infection.
The U.S. is averaging more than 130,000 new cases a day, more than double the average from two months ago. Nationwide, nearly 70,000 Americans are currently hospitalized with COVID-19, and just under 1,200 Americans are still being reported lost to the virus every day.
Health officials continue to urge the public to get vaccinated and boosted as soon as possible, given concerns over waning immunity.
Early data from Moderna found that its current vaccine booster candidate increases antibody levels against omicron 37-fold, while Pfizer reported that its booster increased antibody levels 25-fold.