Due to the presence of the Delta and Omicron COVID-19 variants, this winter has seen a higher spike in COVID cases than the winter prior. In fact, according to trackers conducted by Newsnodes and BNO News, the number of hospitalized Americans has exceeded 100,000-the highest amount since 2020. Moreover, nearly 20,000 Americans are in intensive care units-the third occurrence since 2020.
As such, the amount of COVID-19 deaths have also surged with nearly 2000 deaths reported last Monday alone, according to Newsnodes. The number of deaths as a whole has reached over 1 million over the past few months, though many speculate the cause being holiday gatherings. Even the number of children infected with the virus is increasing, initially remaining relatively low.
“The data is very clear by now that an individual case of Omicron is milder on average than an individual case of Delta”, says HealthCare worker and reporter Ed Cara. This mildness is partly due to the immunity that many people carry to the coronavirus—immunity that may not prevent infection but still can blunt its harm to the body. Furthermore, Omicron is inherently less likely to cause severe illness because it doesn’t infect lung cells as readily as previous strains of the virus”
According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, the average time for hospitalization is about a week after being infected with the virus with another week for recovery. What this means is that Americans hospitalized with the Omicron variant may have been infected by the Delta variant as well, weeks before Omicron was heard of. Also, it can take up to one month for a virus to physically attack the immune system, meaning this statement can also apply to COVID cases in general.
On a positive note, the number of deaths by the Omicron variant was significantly lower than those from the original and Delta variant. While many believe this is simply because of the high number of vaccinations, it may be pertinent to note that South Africa, the first county affected by Omicron, also had a lower death rate despite their lack of proper HealthCare and lack of access to vaccines. The fact that the symptoms are milder is important because more money can be budgeted towards vaccines and cures to end the “COVID era” once and for all.
“Omicron’s behavior can be quite unpredictable”, says Cara, “and as a result, the degree to which the population can be immune to this variant is unknown”. However, this does not prevent the HealthCare system from suffering a rougher winter than 2021, especially as Omicron is responsible for the most amount of current COVID cases, according to the Centers of Disease and Prevention Control. Thus, the devastation of the virus throughout 2022 remains unclear.