Speedy Omicron Outpaces Testing, Response

Countries are bracing for the coming Omicron tidal wave with unprecedented case numbers. 

The UK alone could see 400,000 to 700,000 infections per day, with 20-34 million people infected by April, Deutsche Welle reports.
In the US: New CDC data show that 73% of COVID-19 infections last week in the US were Omicron, NPR reports. The week before Omicron was found in just 13% of sampled COVID-19 cases. 

  • Omicron cases made up 90% of infections last week in the Pacific Northwest, the Great Lakes, the Southeast, and New England.

Speed is key: While the time from exposure to symptoms was 5 days for Alpha and 4 for Delta, it may be as little as 3 days for Omicron, according to The Atlantic

  • A shorter incubation period means an infected person can more quickly infect others, allowing outbreaks to spread faster.
  • Omicron’s speed also allows the virus to more easily outpace slow and clunky testing regimens in the US and other countries.

US ups testing: The Biden administration announced it will distribute 500 million free rapid tests beginning in January, STAT reports

  • They’ll be needed: The US recorded nearly 238,000 new cases yesterday—a number comparable to those seen in its late summer surge.

The Quote: “All of us have a date with omicron,” Amesh Adalja, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, told AP. “If you're going to interact with society, if you're going to have any type of life, omicron will be something you encounter, and the best way you can encounter this is to be fully vaccinated.”
WHO urges cancelling some holiday events over Omicron fears – BBC
Omicron: South African scientists probe link between variants and untreated HIV –BBC

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