World

Omicron wave accounts for many more US deaths than Delta surge

Omicron 1

NEW YORK, FEBRUARY 20: The Omicron wave is breaking, but deaths, which lag cases by as much as several weeks, have surpassed the numbers from the Delta wave and are still increasing in much of the country.
In 14 States, the average daily death toll is higher now than it was 2 weeks ago. They are Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, California, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Kentucky, Maine, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, and West Virginia.
Since November 24, when South Africa first reported the omicron variant to the World Health Organization, the United States has confirmed more than 30,163,600 new infections and more than 154,750 new deaths. (While the US did not initially identify any Omicron cases within its borders until December 1, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has since confirmed that the variant was in the country at least a week earlier.)
By comparison, from August 1 to October 31, a similar duration covering the worst of the Delta surge in the United States, the country confirmed 10,917,590 new infections and 132,616 new deaths.
That makes the official case count about 176% higher during the Omicron wave than in the equivalent-length Delta period. (The true case count is higher still, because, more so than during the Delta wave, many people have been using at-home tests whose results are not included in Government statistics.) The death toll during the Omicron wave is about 17% higher so far than the death toll in the Delta wave.
The gap between the increase in cases and the increase in deaths reflects Omicron’s lower virulence compared with previous variants. In addition, Omicron is far more likely to cause breakthrough infections in vaccinated people, who are far less likely to die from it than unvaccinated people. Deaths also remain lower than in last winter’s surge, before vaccines were widely available: 233,102 deaths were reported from November 24, 2020, to February 18, 2021, compared with 154,757 from November 24, 2021, to February 18, 2022.
Nationally, deaths have begun to decline and are down 13% from 2 weeks ago. But an average of about 2,300 people ~ more than the death toll of Hurricane Katrina ~ are still dying every day.
(Courtesy: New York Times)

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