COVID-19 deaths and hospitalizations are “comparatively” low as the highly infectious Omicron variant of the coronavirus spreads, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Rochelle Walensky said on Wednesday as cases in the United States reached a record high.
“In a few short weeks Omicron has rapidly increased across the country, and we expect will continue to circulate in the coming weeks. While cases have substantially increased from last week, hospitalizations and deaths remain comparatively low right now,” she said, referring to overall cases.
The current seven-day daily average of cases is up 60% over the previous week to about 240,400 per day, she said. The average daily hospitalization rate for the same period is up 14% to about 9,000 per day and deaths are down about 7% at 1,100 per day, Walensky told reporters at a White House briefing.
The average number of daily confirmed coronavirus cases in the United States hit a record high on Wednesday.
Early U.S. data suggests Omicron will have a lower hospitalization-to-case ratio than the Delta variant, top U.S. infectious disease Anthony Fauci said at the briefing, but COVID-19 vaccine boosters will be critical in tackling it.
“All indications point to a lesser severity of Omicron versus Delta,” he said. “Boosters are critical in getting our approach to Omicron to be optimal.”
Both Fauci and Walensky cautioned that data on deaths and hospitalizations tend to lag case data by two weeks.
Fauci said it was possible a second booster shot might be needed, but that it was not possible to know without first determining the durability of the protection offered by an initial booster, for which there is currently no data.
“Before we start talking about a fourth shot, it will be very important for us to determine the durability of protection, particularly against severe disease for the third shot booster of an mRNA and the second shot of a J&J,” he said.
Story continues at: Bad Covid Numbers