Grim new figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have predicted that US COVID-19 deaths will soar by 73 per cent to 15,600 a week by January 8, and that cases will rocket to 1.3 million a week by Christmas Day.
The agency revealed projections on Wednesday afternoon that show America will suffer up to 15,600 new Covid deaths a week as of January 8 – or 2,228 deaths per day – a 58 per cent increase from 8,900 deaths currently being recorded each week, equivalent to 1,285 deaths a day.
Another CDC prediction estimates that between 620,000 and 1.3 million Americans will have been diagnosed with Covid by the week that ends on December 25 – Christmas Day.
That represents a 55 per cent leap on the 840,000 cases that have been recorded over the last week.
Omicron will likely become the dominant Covid strain in the coming weeks, and cause a massive surge of cases shortly after Christmas, one expert has warned, likely fueling the surge the CDC predicts.
Dr Gregory Poland, a top epidemiologist at the Mayo Clinic toldthat an Omicron-fueled surge in cases could be right around the corner.
‘As best any of us can model, we will have an explosion of cases after the holidays in the in the early-to-mid-January timeframe,’ he said.
‘This variant is hyper transmissible, it spreads exponentially in an environment of cold weather, massive holiday get togethers, no masking and insufficient immunization.’
He believes it will become the dominant strain in the UK – which recorded a record 78,610 cases on Wednesday – in the coming days, and that the U.S. will follow around two weeks later.
Cornell University in upstate New York is suspected to be home to the first US Omicron cluster, after 930 students were diagnosed with the virus in recent days. The college says every one of the positive tests it has sequenced so far has been the Omicron variant.
A Cornell spokesman hasn’t said exactly how many Omicron cases have been identified, but added that they expect most, if not all, the 930 cases to be caused by the new variant.
Poland points to Cornell as an example of how quickly the variant can spread and how even the fully vaccinated are at risk from the newly discovered strain, as the campus with a vaccination rate of over 97 percent quickly racked up over 900 cases in a matter of days.
‘This is hyper transmissible.,’ Dr Poland said.
‘People have been satisfying themselves, [saying] “that I was previously infected, or I had two doses of the vaccine [so I should be safe]”, they’re in for a big surprise.