People wait in line to take coronavirus illness (COVID-19) checks at pop-up testing website in New York City, U.S., December 14, 2021.
Brendan McDermid | Reuters
Denmark expects the omicron Covid-19 variant to overtake delta inside every week because the variety of circumstances of the brand new pressure doubles each two days, in accordance to the Statens Serum Institut in Copenhagen, which conducts infectious illness surveillance for the Scandinavian nation.
Troels Lillebaek, chairman of Denmark’s Covid variant evaluation committee, instructed CNBC on Tuesday that omicron now represents not less than 10% of sequenced Covid circumstances, a speedy leap from late November when there was not a single sequenced omicron case in Denmark.
“What we are seeing in Denmark is this very steep increasing the number of omicron cases every day actually, we’re seeing a doubling every second day,” mentioned Lillebaek, who can also be a director at considered one of Statens surveillance labs and a professor on the University of Copenhagen. “And within a week, omicron will take over and be the dominant variant in Denmark.”
Lillebaek mentioned 75% of the nation’s omicron sufferers are absolutely immunized with a two-dose vaccine, whereas 9% of omicron optimistic sufferers have acquired a booster dose.
“We believe that what we are seeing in Denmark is not a special Danish phenomena,” mentioned Lillebaek “We can’t see any reason it should be special for Denmark, what we are observing, and now we also get the same reports, very severe reports from the U.K.”
The speedy unfold of omicron in Denmark, the place 80% of the inhabitants is absolutely vaccinated, is an ominous signal for the U.S., the place simply 61% of the inhabitants is absolutely vaccinated and tens of million of individuals nonetheless haven’t acquired a single shot. Dr. James Lawler, an infectious illness skilled on the University of Nebraska Medical Center, mentioned the U.S. has simply weeks to take motion to stem a wave of omicron an infection.
“We’re going to be in trouble,” Lawler instructed CNBC on Monday. “We’ve already got our hands full with delta. What we’re probably going to get is the triple whammy of delta, omicron and seasonal influenza.”
Scientists and public well being officers are nonetheless researching whether or not omicron causes extra delicate or extra extreme illness in contrast with delta. So far, about 99% of omicron sufferers in Denmark haven’t been hospitalized, in accordance to knowledge from Statens Serum Institut. However, hospital admissions are anticipated to leap over the vacations.
Denmark, in a worst case state of affairs, is projecting 500 new Covid hospital admissions day by day round Christmas in a rustic of 5.9 million folks, in accordance to Lillebaek. As of Wednesday, there have been a complete of 508 folks hospitalized with Covid nationwide, in accordance to Danish authorities knowledge.
“There will be a lot of [hospital] admissions and the concern now is that many hospital staff will test positive and have to go home in isolation,” Lillebaek mentioned. “There will always be vulnerable part of the population. Some get chemotherapy, some have an immune defect, perhaps biological treatment for rheumatism.”
The World Health Organization on Tuesday warned nations towards dismissing omicron as a gentle variant. Omicron is spreading quicker than every other earlier pressure of the virus, in accordance to the WHO.
While the U.S. has not but skilled an explosion of omicron circumstances as in Denmark, the variant is shortly gaining floor throughout America. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Tuesday reported that omicron represented 2.9% of sequenced Covid circumstances final week, up from 0.4% the week prior. Delta makes up about 97% of sequences Covid circumstances, in accordance the CDC.
CDC Director Rochelle Walensky mentioned on Wednesday that omicron could signify up to 13% of circumstances in states like New York and New Jersey.
“Unless it is dramatically milder and less prone to cause hospitalization, it is very likely going to just cause a sheer number of infections where you will see enough hospitalizations to significantly strain or even over run health systems,” Lawler mentioned.
The U.S. can not get rid of transmission of the virus, Lawler mentioned, however there are measures the nation can take to restrict hospitalizations. That contains vaccinating everyone within the nation over the age of 5 and ensuring everybody who’s eligible for a booster will get one.
Pfizer and BioNTech revealed preliminary knowledge final week displaying omicron considerably reduces the power of the two-dose vaccine to chase away an infection. However, two doses should forestall extreme illness, the businesses mentioned. Booster photographs present vital safety towards an infection, in accordance to the lab knowledge.
Lawler mentioned mitigation measures corresponding to carrying masks in indoor public locations and limiting indoor gatherings in addition to shut contact can even assist stem the tide. “You know, there’s that old saying — ‘hope is not a plan.’ Right?” Lawler mentioned.
However, the reintroduction of mitigation measures within the U.S. has confirmed politically controversial. While New York and California have reintroduced masks mandates, Texas and Florida have banned native governments and college boards from implementing them. Colorado Gov. Jared Polis on Friday declared “the emergency is over” and mentioned masks mandates are not essential due to the vast availability of vaccines.
At the federal degree, President Joe Biden’s vaccine necessities for federal contractors and personal companies are presently blocked by federal courts. The president has dominated out lockdowns, relying as an alternative on vaccination and widespread testing this winter.
Denmark, however, has implemented a number of measures to stem the wave of an infection. The nationwide authorities is encouraging folks to earn a living from home and first faculty youngsters will attend class just about by means of Jan 4. Masks are required in most indoor public areas. Nightclubs are closed whereas bars, eating places and cafes should shut their doorways at midnight. People are required to current Covid passes, proving they’re vaccinated, have acquired a latest unfavorable check or recovered from earlier an infection, to enter many companies.
The United Kingdom has additionally hit the alarm, elevating its Covid risk evaluation to degree 4 on Sunday, a step beneath the very best warning. Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday mentioned omicron is leading to hospitalizations and confirmed the U.Okay. first dying from the variant. He warned that Britain faces a “tidal wave” of omicron infections.
U.Okay. Health Secretary Sajid Javid instructed the BBC on Monday that omicron is spreading at a “phenomenal rate” with circumstances doubling each few days. England is urging folks to earn a living from home, mandating masks in most indoor public areas, and requiring proof of two vaccine doses earlier than getting into nightclubs and huge occasions.
CDC Director Rochelle Walenksy mentioned she doesn’t imagine the U.S. will observe the identical timeline because the U.Okay. on omicron. “I don’t expect will be on the same time horizon as U.K. and we’re continuing to follow cases and we’ll look at that carefully,” she mentioned throughout a White House Covid replace on Friday.
However, Michael Osterholm, , director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy on the University of Minnesota, instructed CNBC final week that omicron will overtake delta within the U.S. quickly.
“It’s just a matter of time before omicron becomes the dominant variant here, and I think that could happen relatively quickly,” Osterholm instructed CNBC final week.
Dr. Mike Ryan, govt director of the WHO well being emergencies program, mentioned Tuesday that nations want to begin getting ready their health-care programs for omicron now. He mentioned governments ought to be sure that their well being programs have sufficient workers, triage and oxygen provides in place.
“Health systems are weaker now than they were a year ago in reality,” Ryan mentioned. “So unfortunately, sometimes you can get up after the first punch, but it’s very hard to get up after the second.”