COVID-19s Omicron variant turns out to be drastically less widespread than the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) led people to believe earlier this year.
The agency reported just before Christmas on December 20th that 73% of COVID-19 cases in American were comprised of the Omicron variant, a mere 0.7% jump from two weeks before that. However, that number has recently been revised based on better data which shows that Omicron is responsible for just 22.5% of all COVID-19 cases in the U.S.
CDC estimates of circulating variants including week of 12/25. Notably week of 12/18 estimate of Omicron revised from ~73% to 22.5% (just a tad different!).
Now saying 58.6% of variants are Omicron nationwide. 1/ pic.twitter.com/duYpLSEXQm
— Jason Gallagher (@JGPharmD) December 28, 2021
The data tracking the week of December 12 to 18 was revised after the CDC released new data for the most recent week, December 19 through 25, revealing that Delta variant was still the most dominant, comprising a full 77% of cases.
According to the most recent estimate that forced the adjustment, the period of December 19 through 25 saw the first week in which Omicron was dominant. It comprises just over half at 58.6% of total cases, though is a far cry from the previously reported 73% figure.
The numbers were likely skewed due to the fact that not all COVID-19 cases in the U.S. are sequenced for variant determination, meaning that the CDC must speculate based on random samplings of cases that get sequenced and submitted to the agency.
Currently, Omicron is known to be the most prominent variant in region 2, covering New York, Puerto Rico, New Jersey and the Virgin islands, and in region 6, covering Louisiana, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and New Mexico. Region 1, containing Massachusetts, Maine, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Hampshire and Vermont, as well as Region 7 with Iowa, Nebraska, Missouri, and Kansas, are still dominated by Delta variant coronavirus.
This new data suggests that Omicron has a great deal more room to spread than was previously believed. Though the variant is less severe than earlier strains, it’s believed to be more contagious, breaking through both vaccinated and naturally immune people alike.
Author: Louise Simmons