Director of the CDC, Rochelle Walensky, said Friday that the United States is likely to follow the curve of South Africa’s surge of omicron, but she cautioned that it may roll through various parts of the US at different times, like previous waves have.
“I do think in places that we are seeing this really steep incline, that we may well see also a precipitous decline, but we’re also a much bigger country than South Africa,” Walensky said during a press conference. “And so it may very well be that we see this ice-pick shape, but that is it travels across the country,” she said.
Concerning the quick spread of coronavirus cases as a contributing factor to the reduction, Walensky said that there was insufficient evidence to declare for certain that persons who recovered from omicron. According to Walensky, the CDC is doing research to learn more.
Previous delta infections may not entirely protect against omicron infections, but lab investigations have demonstrated that omicron may protect against possible future delta infections, she added.
“But we don’t yet have data that has demonstrated, at least clinically, that omicron protects against omicron,” Walensky said. “We are setting up studies to evaluate that, but we don’t have that information quite yet.”
Israel has issued fourth doses to select vulnerable members of the population, including health care personnel and the elderly. Before contemplating another round, Walensky said that the United States would need to boost millions more Americans. According to the CDC’s statistics, just 35 percent of the US population, or 73 million US individuals, have been boosted – while around 60 percent of those over 65 have.
“Right now, I think our strategy has to be to maximize the protection of the tens of millions of people who continue to be eligible for a third shot before we start thinking about what a fourth shot would look like,” Walensky said.
Paediatric hospitalizations are at an all-time high, according to Walensky. He attributes this to a combination of factors, including a spike in the number of children being admitted for various reasons, as well as poor vaccination rates in the face of the virus’s most contagious variation ever.
Walensky said that the rate of hospitalization for children under the age of 4 was 4.3 / 100,000 for the week ending January 1, but that the rate for those over the age of 65 was 14.7 per 100,000.
“So, rates are higher in the pediatric populations than we’ve seen previously, but they’re also higher among our other populations and many populations that are also vaccinated,” Walensky said, talking about the virus’s spread.
Nonetheless, she said that there is no evidence that it is more severe in children than in other age groups.
“We are following the science carefully on that,” she said. “We have not yet seen that signal.”