Omicron is not as pervasive among new COVID-19 cases as originally estimated, officials say.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its breakdown of COVID-19 variants on Tuesday, significantly diminishing the number of omicron infections in the United States. Omicron cases account for 58.6% of all COVID-19 diagnoses as of Saturday, a significant decrease from the previously reported 73.2% Dec. 18 estimate, according to new data.
“The interval projected last week reflected the speed at which omicron is increasing and this speed introduces variability into the model,” CDC spokeswoman Jasmine Reed told the Washington Examiner. “It is clear that omicron is quickly becoming the dominant variant, and in some regions in the country, omicron accounts for approximately 90% or more of cases.”
The discrepancy, which lies outside of the agency’s range of prediction interval, is due to the high infection rate of the omicron variant, the health agency said. The CDC shifted its new model’s confidence range for omicron’s prevalence from 41.5% to 74%, Politico reported.
This shift in the estimate has led some analysts to believe that the delta variant, considered the more dangerous COVID-19 variant, may still be a problem.
“Setting aside the question of how the initial estimate was so inaccurate, if CDC’s new estimate of #Omicron prevalence is precise, then it suggests that a good portion of the current hospitalizations we’re seeing from Covid may still be driven by Delta infections,” tweeted former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb.
Still, the diminished figures do not mean omicron cases aren’t rising, and the best way to fight the new strain is to get vaccinated and boosted, according to health officials.
“Given what we currently know about COVID-19 and the rapid transmission rate of the omicron variant, we know that getting vaccinated and boosted, and taking precautions such as masking will help reduce the impact of COVID-19 in our communities,” Reed told the Washington Examiner.
The World Health Organization claimed on Tuesday that COVID-19 cases increased by 11% from the prior week, with the increased spread at least partially connected to the omicron variant.
The U.S is recording more than 200,000 daily COVID-19 infections, a number that has continued to grow day-over-day amid holiday travel.