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28 Sep, Wednesday
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Bull Trader USA

: ‘They seem to be stumbling badly on all fronts’: CDC slashes omicron estimates

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention made significant revisions to its omicron new-case estimates.

In new data released Tuesday, the federal agency said new cases of omicron accounted for just 22.5% of new cases for the week ending Dec. 18, not 73% as originally estimated. Delta, believed by scientists to be a more severe mutation of the virus, accounted for 77% of new cases.

But omicron still appears to have surpassed delta as the dominant strain in new cases over the last week. For the week ending Dec. 25, omicron accounted for 58.6% of new coronavirus cases compared to 41.1% of delta, the CDC said. Other variants accounted for 0.2%.

“CDC’s national genomic surveillance system collects SARS-CoV-2 specimens for sequencing through the National SARS-CoV-2 Strain Surveillance (NS3) program, as well as SARS-CoV-2 sequences generated by commercial or academic laboratories contracted by CDC and state or local public health laboratories,” the CDC says.

Member of the public expressed their frustration online. “CDC isn’t earning itself any confidence,” Lisa Horton, a romance writer, wrote on Twitter TWTR, -1.06%. “I get how tumultuous the process is with a brand new disease but they seem to be stumbling badly on all fronts.”

Omicron is the the highly transmittable variant of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Early studies suggest that many people who contract the omicron variant will have less severe symptoms, and many will have no symptoms at all, but the variant is fast becoming the dominant strain in Europe and the U.S.

The World Health Organization has warned that omicron risks overwhelming healthcare systems. Omicron has thus far resulted in fewer hospitalizations than delta, but even a small percentage of a larger number of cases risks putting pressure on hospitals buckling under staffing shortages.

This week, U.S. health officials reduced isolation times for Americans who test positive for COVID-19 but have no symptoms from 10 to five days, and also cut the time that close contacts need to self-quarantine. After those five days, Americans should still wear a mask around others for another five days, the CDC said.

On Dec. 21, Delta Air Lines DAL, -0.45% chief executive officer Ed Bastian, medical advisor Carlos del Rio and chief health officer Henry Ting wrote to CDC director Rochelle Walensky, saying the previous guidance “was developed in 2020 when the pandemic was in a different phase without effective vaccines and treatments.”

As the second Christmas of the pandemic came and went, and millions of people wonder how long more it would continue, cases continue to soar. COVID-19 has killed 816,239 Americans. There is a daily average of 267,305 new cases in the U.S., up 126% over two weeks, according to the New York Times tracker.

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