CDC sends an urgent message to the American people about getting vaccinated.
Infectious disease doctors are predicting an especially deadly winter now that the Omicron coronavirus strand is circulating in addition to the Delta and that original strand. They’re urging everyone who is unvaccinated to make sure to get the shot – now.
So far, according to CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, MD., the Omicron variant has been detected in “at least 39 states and 75 countries.” The strain is more contagious than the Delta variant, and Walensky said that is likely that the Omicron is milder only because many people have already been vaccinated and boosted.
“For the unvaccinated, you’re looking at a winter of severe illness and death. F0r yourselves, families, and the hospitals who may soon overwhelm,” White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator Jeff Zients said. “We need the American people to do their part.”
Walensky added, “Although Delta continues to circulate widely in the United States, Omicron is increasing rapidly and we expect it to become the dominant strain in the United States, as it has in other countries, in the coming weeks.”
The U.S. is currently looking at nearly 1,300 deaths from COVID-19 each day, and the CDC indicates that new cases, hospitalizations and fatalities are higher now than last winter, before vaccines were widely available. New COVID infections in Connecticut and Maine have grown “150% in the past 2 weeks,” the agency reports.
In the United Kingdom, Imperial College London reported, “The risk of re-infection with COVID-19 from Omicron is more than 5 times as high and that cases of Omicron-based COVID-19 are doubling every 2 days.” The same study found “no evidence of Omicron having lower severity than Delta, judged by either the proportion of people testing positive who report symptoms, or by the proportion of cases seeking hospital care after infection. However, hospitalization data remains very limited at this time.”
“We have no evidence that the virus itself is more mild,” Eric Topol, MD, executive vice president of Scripps Research and editor-in-chief of Medscape cautioned. “Until we have that, we have to assume that people who don’t have any protection are highly vulnerable to getting very ill.”
Walensky said the CDC’s vaccine advisory board recently met to continue safety discussion about COVID-19 vaccinations in children and, as it now stands, the agency is continuing to urge every family to consider ensuring their children are unvaccinated. So far, it reported that “20 million children under 17 and 5 million under 11 have received their shots.”
“Looking specifically at vaccine safety data from over 50,000 children 5-11 years old, we found no evidence of serious safety concerns,” Walensky said.
Anthony Fauci, MD, added, “We’re in a situation where we are now facing a very important Delta surge and we are looking over our shoulder at an oncoming Omicron surge. The optimum protection is fully vaccinated plus a boost.”
Professor Tim Spector, who helps lead the ZOE COVID symptoms app and related study, recently said testing has become more important with the omicron variant because “it does not create symptoms different than those seen in a traditional cold.” He added, “Omicron is probably more, much more similar to the mild variants we’re seeing in people who have been vaccinated with Delta than anything else. And so, it is going to be producing cold-like symptoms that people won’t recognize as Covid if they just believe the official government advice.”