HomeLifestyleHealth & FitnessOmicron has now been sequenced in HALF of U.S. states, while expert...

Omicron has now been sequenced in HALF of U.S. states, while expert issues grave warning

Dr Gregory Poland (pictured) warns that there are 32,000 Americans alive right now who will be dead because of Covid by the end of the year, and do not even know it yet

The Omicron COVID-19 variant is now in half of U.S. states, after Arizona, Iowa, Michigan and Virginia joined the growing list on Thursday or Friday morning.

Now, 25 states have recorded at least one Omicron case. 

While Omicron dominates headlines, the Delta variant continues its spread nationwide, causing a 30 percent increase in new daily cases and 20 percent increase in deaths over the past two weeks.

America’s worsening Covid situation, combined with the Omicron variant and general apathy the population has for the pandemic at this point has one expert sounding alarms that things may get worse for the nation.

Dr Gregory Poland is one of the nation’s top experts on vaccination and immunology, and works as an epidemiologist for the Mayo Clinic and is editor-in-chief of the scientific journals ‘Vaccine’.

As deaths in America continue to rise, he warns that people should not let their guard down.

‘32,000 Americans who think they’re going to be alive to celebrate Christmas and New Years are, no pun intended, dead wrong,’ he told DailyMail.com, as his calculations show that with the current death rate in America, around 32,000 more people are likely to die between now and New Years.

‘Not one of them believes [they will die].’ 

While early data about the Omicron variant is promising – showing that the highly infectious variant does not cause as severe cases as Delta and other Covid strains – he fears that people will see those messages and expose themselves to the existing dangers of virus.

‘Everybody’s comforting themselves with the idea that Omicron is less severe,’ he said.

‘It may well be but that is very, very, preliminary information that comes from one specific area of the world where Delta has not been as deadly as it has here. 

‘It fascinates me that a tiny little preliminary report like that makes its way around the world. Everybody fixes on that belief. And yet, look at the last year of work trying to get people immunized and they ignore it.’

Poland urges Americans to get fully vaccinated as soon as they can, and for those already fully vaccinated to get their booster shot.

He is echoing the calls of many other health officials since the discovery of the Omicron variant, with Dr Anthony Fauci – the nation’s top infectious disease expert – even saying earlier this week that the definition of ‘fully vaccinated’ would eventually be changed to only include people who have received their booster doses.

On Friday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published a report finding the first 43 cases of Omicron sequenced in the U.S. were all mild infections, with no severe complications reported so far.

Officials in the UK, which is experiencing a Covid surge of its own and is among the world leaders in sequenced Omicron cases, are sounding alarms as well.

Health minister Sajid Javid said this week that there could be up to one million cases of the variant in the UK by the end of the year, and Prime Minister Boris Johnson enacted drastic mandates like work from home orders, mask mandates and use of a vaccine passports to attend certain events in the country.

In Scotland, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon referred to the Covid situation as a potential ‘tsunami’, and issued an order that all people who either test positive for the virus or are exposed to it quarantine for at least ten days.

South Africa, the nation where the Omicron variant was first discovered late last month, is still in the midst of one of the sharpest spikes in Covid cases any country has felt during the pandemic, and recorded 22,000 new cases on Thursday.

The Omicron COVID-19 variant has now been sequenced around 80 times in at least 25 U.S. states, half of America

The Omicron COVID-19 variant has now been sequenced around 80 times in at least 25 U.S. states, half of America

Omicron has now been sequenced in HALF of U.S. states, while expert issues grave warning

Covid cases in the UK are approaching all time highs as the Omicron variant is believed to account for around 8% of cases in the nation, or around 4,000 new cases per day. Prime Minister Johnson issues strict orders Wednesday to combat the spread of the virus

Covid cases in the UK are approaching all time highs as the Omicron variant is believed to account for around 8% of cases in the nation, or around 4,000 new cases per day. Prime Minister Johnson issues strict orders Wednesday to combat the spread of the virus

Poland says that much of America’s failures to deal with the pandemic draws back to humans inability to understand the scale as to which how quickly the virus can spread.

‘What we’re fundamentally discussing is a concept called exponential reality… and there are no circumstances in which humans don’t fail in decision making under conditions of exponential reality,’ he said.

Because of the nature of Covid, and especially the more infectious variants like Delta and Omicron, cases can double in a matter of only a few days if spread is not mitigated – meaning a situation that seems controlled can quickly become overwhelming.

Poland supports vaccine mandates and believes that no one should be able to travel into the United States without showing proof of a negative test.

He also supports the ‘pre-emptive’ strike against Covid that New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced earlier this week – implementing vaccine mandates on the private sector workforce and requiring proof of two vaccine doses for a person to go to many indoor events and facilities.

‘I thought that was a very wise and courageous action that most people will not want to do, not realizing the value of that to them,’ Poland said. 

Pfizer finds that third shot is needed to protect from Omicron 

The pharma giant Pfizer revealed data Wednesday showing that its two-dose Covid vaccine regimen may not be effective at preventing infection from the Omicron variant

Data published by AHRI on Tuesday found that the jab had 41 times less antibodies effective against Omicron as it had against over variants

Pfizer reports that a booster dose increases Omicron-fighting antibodies 25-fold when compared to only receiving the two-shots

Officials could not say whether the jab is still effective at preventing severe Covid infection

The Pfizer vaccine is the most popular in the U.S., having been administered over 275 million times to fully vaccinate more than 110 million people 

While his outlook on the pandemic is not the rosiest, Poland still thinks it is ok for people to travel for Christmas and New Years this holiday season, as long as they understand they are absorbing some risk in doing so.

‘I have no problem with that. Just [make sure] they’re fully vaccinated and boosted and they were a proper mask properly,’ he said.

‘We were built for community, we were built for social interaction, we must have that. That question is how to do it safely. And [how to] balance risks and benefits.’  

There is no such thing as doing anything ‘safe’, Poland said, even adding that the act of driving a car can be extremely dangerous, but people could do things ‘safer’ by taking some precautions like wearing a mask and getting vaccinated.

The United States reached 60 percent of its population fully vaccinated earlier this week, a milestone reached only days before the one year anniversary of the first vaccine doses becoming available. 

Some officials are pushing to bring that rate even higher, including New York Gov Kathy Hochul.

On Friday, Hochul announced that all indoor businesses in New York would have to either institute a vaccine mandate or mask mandate, a drastic move that will go into effect on Monday. 

On Wednesday, Pfizer, who manufactures the most commonly used vaccine in the U.S. – used to fully vaccinated over 110 million people – announced it had data showing that the first two doses of its vaccine were not as effective against the new variant.

It came a day after the African Health Research Institute released a study finding that people who were fully vaccinated with the Pfizer vaccine had 40 times less antibodies available for fighting Omicron that they did other strains.

Pfizer did say that it had data showing the booster shot would get protection levels back up, though, and increases antibody levels 25-fold. 

On Thursday, the Food and Drug Administration expanded eligibility of the Pfizer booster shot to also include people aged 16 and 17.

Nearly 50 million, or 15 percent of the population, has received a booster shot, with half receiving the Pfizer shoot as their booster. 

America is also averaging around 120,000 new daily Covid cases, a 30 percent increase over the past two weeks.

Deaths in the U.S. are up 18 percent over the past two weeks, up to nearly 1,300 per week, and the 62,000 Americans in the hospital due to severe cases of the virus is a 20 percent increase over the past two weeks.

Dr Michael Osterholm, a public health expert at the University of Minnesota said this week that he believes Omicron could become the dominant strain within the next few weeks. 

‘I think Omicron is going to be remarkable in how fast it takes,’ Osterhold said. 

‘If you look at what it took for Alpha and Delta to prevail, it took really two months before they became the dominant variants around the world, some countries sooner than others. I think you’re going to see this one become the dominant variant in just a matter of weeks.’

Omicron has now been sequenced in HALF of U.S. states, while expert issues grave warning

Omicron has now been sequenced in HALF of U.S. states, while expert issues grave warning

Omicron has now been sequenced in HALF of U.S. states, while expert issues grave warning

What are the new Covid rules in England?

Boris Johnson announced this evening that the Government is implementing its Covid Plan B. 

It means: 

WFH

The return of work from home guidance. People will be told to work from home in England from Monday if they are able to.

Face mask

Face masks will be made compulsory in most public indoor venues including in cinemas and theatres from this Friday. They will not be required in pubs, restaurants and gyms.

Vaccine passports 

The NHS Covid pass will be compulsory to gain access to nightclubs and other large venues where large crowds gather. 

This will apply to all unseated indoor venues with more than 500 people, unseated outdoor venues with more than 4,000 people and any venue with more than 10,000 people. 

Two vaccine doses will be treated as fully-vaccinated but this will be kept under review because of the booster program. 

A negative lateral flow test will also be sufficient. 

This requirement will be rolled out in one week’s time to give businesses time to prepare. 

Contact testing 

Contacts of Omicron cases will be told to take daily coronavirus tests instead of having to self-isolate. They will have to quarantine if they test positive.    

In the UK, health officials believe the Omicron variant is behind around 4,000 new cases every day, as the nation once again nears 50,000 new cases per day. 

London, the UK’s largest city, accounts for around 30 percent of those cases, as it has become one of the global virus hotspots. 

To get ahead of the crisis, Prime Minister Johnson announced drastic measures on Wednesday to curb the spread of the variant.

Face masks will also now be compulsory in most public, indoor, venues, though restaurants, bars and gyms will be exempt from the order.

People who are believed to be a close contact to someone with a confirmed case of the Omicron variant will also be ordered to take daily Covid tests, and will have to enter quarantine if they test positive for Covid.

He also announced plans to use a vaccine passport titles the ‘NHS Covid pass’, which will be needed to attend many events, whether indoor or outdoor, though presentation of a negative Covid test will suffice in most cases.

The new mandates went into effect on Friday. 

Nearly 1,000 cases of the variant have been confirmed in the UK, but health officials find that eight percent of sequenced cases are Omicron.

Scotland is one of the hardest struck areas of the current UK Covid surge.

The country reported more than 5,000 new Covid cases on Friday, its highest total in three months and two-fold increase over the amount of cases reported a week ago.

‘The fact is we do face a renewed and very severe challenge in the face of the new Omicron variant,’ First Minister Sturgeon said a news conference. 

‘To be blunt, because of the much greater and faster transmissibility of this new variant, we may be facing – indeed we may be starting to experience – a potential tsunami of infections.’ 

‘…’I think we can now say with some confidence that we expect it to overtake Delta within days, not weeks – we estimate this could be as early as the very beginning of next week.’ 

Denmark is also among the world’s leader in sequenced Omicron cases, having confirmed around 600 new infections of the variant as of Friday morning. 

The nation’s largest outbreak has been tied to a Christmas lunch event in the Viborg region, attended by 150 students on November 27 from two local high schools.

At least 64 case of the Omicron variant have been tied to the event.

Omicron has now been sequenced in HALF of U.S. states, while expert issues grave warning

Omicron has now been sequenced in HALF of U.S. states, while expert issues grave warning

More than 1,000 people have been deemed close contacts to those infected at the event, and it is believed to be among the largest outbreaks of the variant detected so far. 

Covid cases in Denmark have jumped to around 7,000 new cases per day as of Friday, the highest total ever recorded in the Nordic nation.

In response the surge in cases, Prime Minister Mette Fredericksen announced new measures to prevent spread of the virus on Wednesday.

People who can will now be ordered to work from home, and virtual schooling has been extended as well.

Denmark high school Christmas lunch leads to Omicron surge 

A Christmas lunch event in the Viborg region of Denmark has been tied to an Omicron variant outbreak of at lest 64 cases on November 27

The lunch was attended by 150 students from two high schools

After the event, 64 people tested positive for Covid, and all were sequenced to have the Omicron variant

More than 1,000 people in the area have been deemed close contacts to the infected 

Denmark is among the world leaders in sequenced Omicron cases, with 398 as of Wednesday morning

Covid cases in the Nordic nation have jumped 20 percent over the past two weeks 

Bars and nightclubs will also have reduced operating hours, being forced to close at midnight now, in an effort to prevent transmission. 

Another outbreak of the variant may have occurred at a holiday party held by Scatec, a Norwegian energy company.

The Oslo based company held a Christmas party in Cape Town, South Africa, in November, bringing dozens of employees to the nation before the discovery of the new strain.

Now, 70 employees of the company have been tested positive for Covid in the weeks since, with 50 others outside the company who were present at the same restaurant the party was held at also testing positive.

Only 13 of the 120 cases have been sequenced as a confirmed Omicron case, though it is believed that all the related cases may be of the new strain. 

One Scatec staffer is believed to be ‘patient zero’ with the related infections all being tied back to them.

Those who were not a part of the party but were infected are believed to have contracted the virus during a period after the festivities where Scatec employees began to mingle with others in the bar.

All of the cases tied back to the event were reported to be mild.

The event turned into a warning call for many in Europe, as all the staffers were fully vaccinated yet the variant was still able to cause breakthrough infections in all of them.

Cases in Norway have doubled since the event in mid-November reaching 4,200 new cases every day in the Nordic nation – with more than 5,200 positive cases reported of Friday, a new record for the country.

In South Africa, Covid related hospitalizations have increased for the fifth consecutive week, eclipsing 3,800 this week, nearly a three-fold increase from the 1,300 figure two weeks ago. 

In The Gauteng province, where the variant was first sequenced during the week of Thanksgiving, hospitalizations have decreased this week, down to 1,700 from 2,200 last week, though the current figure is still double the 833 hospitalizations from two weeks ago.

While hospitalizations are rising in the country, MailOnline.com reports that only eight percent of people admitted require ICU treatment – around a third of the usual rate of ICU admittance.

The figure is further evidence that the new Covid variant may be more mild than previous strains of the virus. 

Travel to the U.S. from South Africa, along with seven other nations in its region, is still restricted despite the variant already being detected in much of America.

Omicron has now been sequenced in HALF of U.S. states, while expert issues grave warning

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