COVID-19 OMICRON: Speed Demon

In what may be a preview for the US and other countries, Omicron’s UK invasion is causing a “tidal wave” of infections, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said yesterday.
And today: The country confirmed the first Omicron-linked death, Reuters reports.
Fast variant: Noting that Omicron is spreading at a “phenomenal rate,” Health Secretary Sajid Javid said the variant now makes up 40% of new coronavirus infections in London.   

  • Omicron case numbers are doubling every 2-3 days, Johnson said, AP reports.

Preliminary data: UK health officials said early data show current vaccines are less effective in preventing symptomatic infections from Omicron, but a third dose can increase effectiveness to 70-75%. 

  • In response, Johnson moved up booster shot availability for everyone 18 and older in England to the end of this month. Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland were accelerating their vaccination campaigns as well.

Background: +80% of people ages 12 and up in Britain have had 2 doses of vaccine, and 40% of adults have had 3 doses.
Global take: Meanwhile, the WHO announced yesterday that Omicron has been detected in 60+ countries and presents a “very high” global risk though data on the severity of illness it causes is limited, Reuters reports.  
UK has Omicron Covid patients in hospital, government confirms – The Guardian
Omicron: Three vaccine doses key for protection against variant – BBC
Enhancing Readiness for Omicron (B.1.1.529): Technical Brief and Priority Actions for Member States – WHO

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