The Omicron wave in New York looks worse than in England

Fewer boosters and lower levels of immunity may explain the difference

1/11/2022 4:00:00 PM

The Omicron variant is estimated to be about twice as transmissible as Delta; a huge wave of cases threatens to engulf health-care systems around the world

Fewer boosters and lower levels of immunity may explain the difference

ince itwas discovered in southern Africa in late November, the Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2 has been detected in 114 countries. It is now dominant inat least 41, including America and Britain. The new variant is estimated to be about twice as infectious as Delta; a huge wave of cases threatens to engulf health-care systems around the world. America recorded 4.9m new covid-19 infections in the week to January 9th, nearly three times the previous record set in January 2021.

The Economist todayHandpicked stories, in your inboxA daily newsletter with the best of our journalismSign upThrough sheer dint of evolutionary fortune Omicron causes a less severe form of disease than Delta. That is because it tends to remain in its host’s nose rather than entering their lungs. A study by Britain’s health-security agency published on December 23rd found that people with Omicron were 55-69% less likely to need hospital care than those infected with Delta. These results need to be interpreted with caution. The study did not account for past infections that went undiagnosed, meaning some of the reduced severity is likely to be because many of those contracting it had unknowingly caught covid before.

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I thought Omicron was mild

WHO: More than 50% of Europeans face being infected with Omicron CovidWHO regional director Hans Kluge warned on Tuesday that the Omicron Covid variant represented a 'new west-to-east tidal wave sweeping across' the European region. More good news - I can't keep up. I’ve stayed home. I’m not liking this virus even Pfizer isn’t fool proof but it’s done better than Ox-AZ. Shame we didn’t just make Pfizer’s drug increase capacity here and just make one vaccine. That’s why it failed. Wow. This REALLY means that it’s working.

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New Zealand not prepared for Omicron outbreak expected in ‘matter of weeks’, experts warnDr Nick Wilson and Dr Michael Baker say country’s ‘traffic light’ Covid protection framework is ‘not fit for purpose’ Taking care of my debts and giving my family the best financially is what I have long waited for, TarellaCampbel thank you for helping me gain financial success. Neat to see The Guardian carrying water for Klaus Schwab. MassFormation

PCR tests scrapped for people without symptoms who test positive on lateral flowNew rules around Covid testing come into force today 🧪 Now, those who test positive on a lateral flow but don’t have Covid symptoms no longer need to take a follow-up PCR.

India begins booster shots and bans election rallies as Covid cases surgeThe country recorded 179,723 fresh infections, including 4,033 Omicron cases, on Monday

Don't panic about 'Deltacron': it might be mixed samples, scientistsExperts have poured cold water on claims from Cyprus that a new 'Deltacron' Covid variant combining Omicron and Delta has emerged instead saying it is likely a case of laboratory contamination. I know we all probably might have heard about Bitcoin but don't know how it works, I tried it in a week ago by a man who recommended me to Derrick_Jones39 on Twitter he guides me through and i made a return of $10500 after a week of trading, connect with him For all those who are new to this working from home Bitcoin trading options Here's a little tip: Get a trusted Bitcoin expert and stick to her Derrick_Jones39 Invest and play at similar times each day. Because : In times of chaos, your investment is your anchor to success⚖️

S ince it was discovered in southern Africa in late November, the Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2 has been detected in 114 countries. It is now dominant in at least 41 , including America and Britain. The new variant is estimated to be about twice as infectious as Delta; a huge wave of cases threatens to engulf health-care systems around the world. America recorded 4.9m new covid-19 infections in the week to January 9th, nearly three times the previous record set in January 2021. The Economist today Handpicked stories, in your inbox A daily newsletter with the best of our journalism Sign up Through sheer dint of evolutionary fortune Omicron causes a less severe form of disease than Delta. That is because it tends to remain in its host’s nose rather than entering their lungs. A study by Britain’s health-security agency published on December 23rd found that people with Omicron were 55-69% less likely to need hospital care than those infected with Delta. These results need to be interpreted with caution. The study did not account for past infections that went undiagnosed, meaning some of the reduced severity is likely to be because many of those contracting it had unknowingly caught covid before. But a variant that causes severe disease at half the rate of Delta and twice as many infections in total will cause about the same number of severe cases. Hospitals in many countries are feeling the strain. In America, the number of covid patients is nearing the record set in January 2021. Anthony Fauci, the White House’s chief covid adviser, expects cases to continue rising for weeks to come. In England, the defence ministry announced on January 7th that it had begun deploying 200 army personnel to London hospitals to help manage the caseload, which is currently about half of last January’s peak. The country’s health service has been hit by worker shortages: about 4% of staff were absent because of covid in the week to January 2nd. But London, one of the first big Western cities to be hit with Omicron, is showing positive vital signs. Infections in the capital—which reached an eye-watering one-in-ten of the population on Christmas Day, according to a representative sample—have peaked. Although the sheer volume of cases has led to a 170% rise in hospital admissions over the past month, the number of patients requiring intensive care has increased by only 20%. Deaths are currently at just 13% of last year’s peak. Data from New York state suggest America may not fare so well. Both London and New York have relatively young populations with high levels of immunity from infection and vaccination (about 80% of adults in both places have had at least two shots or a one-shot regimen). But in contrast to England, in New York the number of covid patients requiring intensive care has moved hand-in-hand with cases, and deaths are rising too (see chart). England’s leaders eased restrictions amid a wave of infections in July 2021, hoping that the country would benefit from higher immunity come winter. That immunity, along with a quick booster campaign , may have made the difference. In New York some 13m people have completed the initial regimen but only a third of adults, some 5m, have had booster shots. Many vaccine sceptics point to the milder disease caused by Omicron and the fact that vaccines do not completely prevent either transmission or reinfection as evidence of the jabs’ redundancy. Yet a study of around half a million Omicron cases in England found that the risk of hospitalisation was 81% lower for those who had had three vaccine doses, compared with those who had had none. The virus may have mellowed, but it is still deadly for many of those who think they can fight it alone. ■