The omicron variant of the Coronavirus has been discovered in over roughly one-third of the United States. However, on Sunday (Dec. 5), health officials stated the delta variant remains the majority of COVID-19 infections as cases ramp up throughout the nation.
According to Reuters, The latest variant has caused a rise in anxiety throughout the world. U.S. infectious disease official, Dr. Anthony Fauci, told CNN that “thus far it does not look like there’s a great degree of severity to it” and noted it’s too early to reach any conclusions.
South Africa’s government officials have argued that they are being punished instead of applauded for their swift response to international health officials after discovering the variant. Fauci hopes the U.S. lifts the travel ban on travelers from southern African countries within a “reasonable period of time.” In a CNN interview, Fauci thanked South Africa for their transparency around the discovery of the variant.
As South Africa prepares its hospitals for the rise in COVID cases, due in a huge part to the new variant, its daily infection rate has surged from last Monday's (Nov. 29) 2,300 to Friday’s (Dec. 3) new number of more than 16,000.
According to Reuters statistics, at least 16 states have reported omicron cases: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Utah, Washington and Wisconsin.
Reuters also reports the U.S. has averaged 119,000 new cases a day and nearly 1,300 lives have been lost to COVID, over the last seven days.
COVID vaccine manufacturers are looking to adjust the vaccine, but that could take months.
Moderna co-founder and chairman, Noubar Afeyan, told CNN it would take another seven to ten days to get important data. Another “60-100 days” to issue a shot specified for the new variant. Afeyan said, a higher dose of current booster shot is being looked into as an option.
U.S. government officials are also working with Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson for vaccine tweaks.