US cuts estimate of Omicron prevalence to just over half of Covid cases
US health officials have sharply slashed their estimates of the Covid-19 wave volume caused by the Omicron coronavirus variant, underscoring uncertainties surrounding the country’s pandemic response.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Tuesday it now believes the highly contagious strain of the bacteria causes just over half of Covid-19 infections in the country, instead of three-quarters. as estimated a week ago.
Officials said the change to the CDC’s estimate comes after the agency received additional sampling information from previous weeks. But they also highlight difficulty Federal health officials have been faced with trying to get an accurate picture of the pandemic in the US, given the overwhelming amount of health data kept at the local and state levels.
A spokesman said: “There is a wide range of predictions posted in last week’s chart, partly due to Omicron’s rate of increase. We have more data coming from that timeframe and the Omicron rate has dropped.
“It is important to note that we are still seeing the Omicron ratio steadily increase.”
The CDC shocked many in the US medical community last week when it said Omicron now accounts for 73% of cases, up from 13% the previous week. However, the new figures show a gradual increase over the past three weeks, from 7%, to 23% and now to 59%.
The overall number of cases in the US continues to rise, with some parts of the country now having record numbers of infections. However, the number of hospitalizations and deaths increased much more slowly, reflecting the experience of places like South Africa and the UK.
The latest wave of cases has caused widespread disruption, with many people being quarantined for long periods despite having mild symptoms or no symptoms at all. According to Flightaware.com, nearly 1,000 US flights were canceled on Tuesday morning, with thousands more canceled over the Christmas weekend.
The CDC tried to fix that on Monday, cut The recommended isolation period for those infected is 10 days to 5 days, as long as the symptoms have passed or are healing.
But that move drew criticism from some public health scientists, whom the Biden administration has largely been able to rely on for their support.
“It looks pretty chaotic,” said Eric Topol, director of the Scripps Research Translational Institute in California. You got an announcement yesterday about quarantine instructions with no data, no evidence, nothing. And this is from an administration that says they want to stick with science.
“Then today we have drastic changes to their genome estimates. The past 24 hours show the agency’s creditworthiness lower than at any point in this operating process.”