The United States has identified several dozen cases of the omicron variant of the coronavirus, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention expects the number to grow.
So far, the variant does not appear to be causing an increase in hospitalizations in the country. Omicron, which scientists first identified last month in South Africa, has up to 30 mutations in its spike protein, possibly affecting transmissibility and vaccine effectiveness.
On Sunday, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government’s top infectious disease specialist, said the strain so far does not appear to cause illness as severe as the widespread delta variant.
What about delta? Delta remains the dominant variant in the United States. It makes up more than 99 percent of recorded cases, and it’s driving a surge of hospitalizations in the North.
On Monday New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a sweeping vaccine mandate for the city, citing the potential spread of the omicron variant. Courts have blocked a federal vaccine mandate and a local one passed by the Gainesville City Commission.
Last week President Joe Biden announced a plan to combat COVID-19 this winter. It includes requiring insurance companies to cover at-home coronavirus testing and a push to vaccinate more children.
—With reporting from J.C. Derrick
This story originally appeared in WORLD. © 2021, reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.