The bigger question is whether the current and available vaccines will prevent the spread of severe cases by the Omicron variant.
So far, the handful of known cases in the United States have been reported by health officials as mild and in people who have been vaccinated. But with so few cases, there isn’t enough evidence yet on what to expect from Omicron.
It is always the cases of the Delta variant that hold the attention of officials, reports Tom Hanson for “CBS Saturday Morning.”
Delta variant-driven COVID cases are on the rise, averaging 96,000 new cases per day, and are hitting hard across the Upper Midwest to New England. New Hampshire led the country in new cases per capita last week
“99.9% of cases in the country are currently from the Delta variant,” said Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
As for the Omicron variant, health officials advise calm.
“We are equipped and ready to fight the Omicron variant head-on,” said Walensky.
“There is every reason to believe that if you get the vaccine and boosted you would have at least some degree of cross-protection, most likely against serious disease, even against the Omicron variant,” said Dr Anthony Fauci, director. of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and Chief Medical Advisor to the President.
But Omicron is spreading twice as fast as the Delta variant, and this week mild cases of the strain, first identified in South Africa, emerged in several states, including Maryland, where Gov. Larry Hogan was from. to announce an aggressive partnership to quickly find cases of COVID.
“The state has made deals with Johns Hopkins and the University of Maryland to more than double our already aggressive real-time variant monitoring,” he said this week.
International travelers will need to take a COVID test a day before boarding a flight to the United States from a country where Omicron has been detected. Once they arrive, many airports have on-site testing.
More than two dozen countries have identified cases with the Omicron strain.
“Now is not the time to relax,” said Baltimore City Health Commissioner Dr Letitia Dzirasa. “We see this variant of concern and the way to deal with the variants is to slow the transmission of COVID, and we do it through vaccination, we do it through masking. “
Alexander Tin contributed reporting for this article.