Omicron Helps Fuel Rise In US Cases

Although the situation has varied across the country, the overall situation is worsening day by day.

Many states are still grappling with the Delta variant, which ravaged the country over the summer and fall. While reports of new cases have recently declined in some midwestern and western states that had been hit hard by Delta, those areas could be vulnerable to an influx of Omicron cases. Much of the northeast, where Omicron is rapidly spreading, had already been in the grip of a Delta-fueled surge this fall.

In welcome good news, Moderna announced on Monday that a booster of its coronavirus vaccine significantly increases the level of antibodies that can thwart the Omicron variant. Pharmaceutical companies Pfizer and BioNTech announced this month that a booster of their vaccine also increased the level of antibodies against Omicron.

But only about a third of fully immunized U.S. adults have received a booster. The risk that presents itself as Omicron approaches is exposed by the severity of the recent spike in cases in New England, the most vaccinated region in the country.

Nearly 11,000 people in New England’s six states now test positive for the coronavirus every day. Almost all of these states have also seen an increase in hospitalizations and deaths in the past two weeks.

For New Englanders, and probably many across the country in the days and weeks to come, this recent trend has been darkly familiar – and extremely frustrating.

“We were going in the right direction with vaccines,” said Ezra Small, 40, who lives in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. He had started seeing friends, reluctantly, and had even celebrated Hanukkah with family members.

Now, with the arrival of Omicron, he has stated that he has once again completely quit socializing. After all the talk about getting back to normal, he said, “this sucks.”

The report was provided by Roni Caryn Rabin, Sheryl Gay Stolberg, Carl Zimmer, Eoin Higgins, Will Davis and Emma Fitzsimmons.

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