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White House: Winter of Severe Disease and Death for those who aren’t vaccinated

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Top infectious disease officials anticipate an increase in COVID-19-related cases following the holidays. They also they predict that Omicron will soon take over as the most prevalent strain in the United States.

The best way to stay protected is by getting vaccinations and boosters, they say.

“For the unvaccinated you’re looking at a winter that is full of severe illness, death -for you, your families, and the hospitals that may soon overflow,” Jeff Zients, White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator, said Friday at a news conference. “We require the American citizens to take action.”

According to Rochelle Walensky MD, CDC Director, the Omicron variant was detected in at most 39 states and 75 countries.

The strain is more transmittable than the already extremely infectious Delta variant. She said that although there was evidence early of milder illness, it is likely that the majority of infected people were vaccinated or booster.

Walensky said that Delta is still widely available in the United States. However, Omicron is growing rapidly and we believe it will become the dominant strain in America over the next weeks.

The U.S. is averaging close to 1,300 deaths due to COVID-19 every day. The number of new cases hospitalizations, deaths and new cases of COVID-19 is greater than in the previous winter when vaccines were more widely available. The New York Times reported Friday that the number of new infections in Connecticut and Maine have increased by 150% in the last two weeks, and Ohio and Indiana are seeing hospitalization rates nearing the top of last winter’s surge.

Dueling reports that were released this week caused relief and concerns about Omicron.

Tuesday’s news release from South Africa shows that Omicron waves have resulted in fewer hospitalizations than other waves. This is the good news.

The news is alarming from the United Kingdom , where Imperial College London reported Friday that the risk of re-infection from COVID-19 from Omicron was five times greater and that Omicron-based COVID-19 cases are increasing at a rate of 2 cases per day.

The study also did not find evidence that Omicron has a lower severity than Delta. This is based on the proportion of Omicron positives who report symptoms or the percentage of Omicron patients admitted to hospitals. Researchers said that hospitalization data is not yet available.

“We don’t have any evidence that the virus is less severe,” Eric Topol (MD) executive vice president of Scripps Research, and editor-in chief of Medscape WebMD’s sister website for health professionals, told PBS NewsHour. “Until the information is available, we can assume that those who have no protection are at risk of becoming very ill.”

The White House COVID-19 team continues to remind parents and guardians to have their children vaccinations, particularly in anticipation of a post-holiday spike. Walensky said that the CDC’s advisory panel met on Thursday to continue safety discussions about COVID-19 vaccines for children.

So so far, 20 million children under 17 and 5 million children under 11 have received their shots.

“Looking specifically at vaccine safety data from more than 50,000 children 5-11 years old We found no evidence of any serious safety concerns,” Walensky said.

Top infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci, MD, has stressed the importance of being vaccinations and boosters in order to avoid serious diseases like Delta and Omicron.

“We’re in a situation in which we’re currently facing a very important Delta surge and are looking over our shoulder at an incoming Omicron surge,” he said. “The best protection is vaccinated plus a boost.”


News briefing, White House COVID-19 Response Team December. 17, 2021.

Imperial College London: “Modelling suggests a rapid spread of Omicrons in England but with the same level of severity as Delta.”

The New York Times:“Doctors and Nurses Are “Living in a Constant Crisis’ as Covid Overflows Hospitals and Omicron Looms.”

Twitter: @EricTopol, Dec. 17, 2021.

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