CDC Sharply Drops Estimate of Omicron Prevalence in U.S. on December 18 From 73% to 22%
The U.S. CDC significantly revised its model of the breakdown of SARS-CoV-2 variants on Tuesday (Dec. 28), estimating Omicron accounted for 58.6% of COVID-19 cases as of Christmas.
The public health agency’s previous estimate that the Omicron variant accounted for 73.2% of cases nationwide on December 18 is now revised down to 22.5%— a stunning drop.
“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,” former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said.
The CDC’s revised model estimates the Delta variant still represents 41.1% of U.S. COVID-19 cases.
The White House didn’t immediately respond to request for comment.
Oklahoma Governor Says He Doesn’t Plan to Get a COVID-19 Vaccine Booster Shot
Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt has said he doesn’t plan on getting a COVID-19 booster shot despite state health officials urging all eligible people to receive the additional vaccine dose.
“I’m perfectly healthy, and my doctor hasn’t told me I need to get it,” Stitt said on Monday (Dec. 27) of the booster shot.
The governor’s decision comes as the Omicron variant has driven an uptick in infections across the country.
Texas is Unable to Offer Monoclonal Antibody Treatment for Omicron Until “Federal Authorities Ship Additional Courses”
Texas has run out of its supply of monoclonal antibodies, and infusion centers in the state will be unable to offer the treatment for Omicron until January.
Infusion centers in Austin, El Paso, Fort Worth, San Antonio and The Woodlands have all gone through their supply of sotrovimab, the only antibody treatment believed to be effective against the omicron variant, the Texas Health and Human Services Commission said.
The agency said infusion centers in Texas will be unable to offer the treatment until “federal authorities ship additional courses of sotrovimab to Texas in January.”
“Other monoclonal antibodies have not shown to be effective against the Omicron variant, which now accounts for more than 90% of new cases. The infusion centers will continue to offer those antibodies as prescribed by health care providers for people diagnosed with a non-Omicron case of COVID-19,” the Texas commission said.
However, the CDC announced on Tuesday (Dec 28) that only 58.6% of COVID-19 cases are Omicron.
Too Many Booster Shots May Harm Body’s Ability to Fight COVID-19, Israeli Scientists Warn
Israel is expected to begin offering a fourth COVID-19 vaccine dose to contain the Omicron variant, despite debate among scientists and a lack of evidence either for or against another booster.
A Health Ministry expert panel last week recommended that Israel become the first country to offer a fourth vaccine dose to those aged over 60, those suffering from compromised immune systems, and medical workers. Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has made it clear he supports a fourth shot.
However, some scientists advising the Israeli government on the pandemic warned that the plan could backfire, because too many shots might cause a sort of immune system fatigue, compromising the body’s ability to fight COVID-19. Multiple members of the government’s advisory panel raised that concern with respect to the elderly, according to a written summary of the discussion obtained by The New York Times.
An Israeli hospital launched the first major study on Monday (Dec. 28) into whether a second round of boosters will help contend with the fast-spreading Omicron variant.
Omicron Infection Enhances Neutralizing Immunity Against the Delta Variant and Could Displace It, Study Finds
Additionally, the study found that Omicron could displace Delta.
The findings could have significant implications for nations such as the United States where Omicron infections are rapidly increasing but the Delta variant, which has caused an increase in hospitalizations, is still widespread.
“These results are consistent with Omicron displacing the Delta variant, since it can elicit immunity which neutralizes Delta making re-infection with Delta less likely,” the team of scientists, led by Khadija Khan at the Africa Health Research Institute, wrote in their findings.
If Omicron displaces Delta and proves more mild than past variants, “the incidence of COVID-19 severe disease would be reduced and the infection may shift to become less disruptive to individuals and society,” according to the scientists’ findings.
However, the study has not yet been peer-reviewed.