Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Is Omicron peaking?

The number of new Covid-19 cases in New York City increased more than twenty-fold in December. It has declined in the last few days.

The number of new cases declined slightly this week in both New Jersey and Maryland. In many big cities too, this number is showing signs of decreasing.

In Boston, the amount of COVID virus found in wastewater, which has been a leading indicator of case trends in the past, has fallen by nearly 40 percent since its peak on Jan.

“We really try not to make any predictions about this virus, because it always throws us for a loop,” Dr. Shira Doran, an epidemiologist at Tufts Medical Center, told GBH News. “But at least that’s suggesting a steep decline in wastewater, and so we hope that means that there will also be a rapid decline in cases, and then hospitalizations and deaths.”

As Doron suggested, it is too early to believe that the Omicron wave has peaked even in areas with encouraging data – which are the places where Omicron first arrived in the US but with good reason to consider the most likely scenario. Is. “It looks like we’re climbing that peak,” New York Governor Kathy Hochul said this week.

(See your county’s cases here.)

The surge in cases lasting about a month, followed by a sharp drop, would be in line with the experience of some places where Omicron arrived earlier than the US. In South Africa, new daily cases have dropped by about 70 percent since the mid-December peak. The chart showing South Africa’s recent trend looks like a thin, inverted letter V.

In the UK, where epidemic trends have often been weeks ahead of those in the US, cases peaked just after the new year and have fallen somewhat since:

As with the previous versions of Covid, the up and down cycles were longer, as in the delta version. Once an outbreak began, cases often peaked for about two months before falling.

Scientists do not fully understand the cycle of Covid, but the explanation probably involves some combination of the biological properties of the virus and the size of a typical human social network. After about two months, outbreaks of the earlier types started burning like wildfire.

Omicron is so contagious that it spreads more quickly. This rapid spread can also mean that it more quickly reaches people who are more vulnerable to getting infected. Omicron’s brief boom-and-bust cycle is now “a familiar pattern,” says Joseph Allen of the Harvard School of Public Health.

Ali Moqdad, a professor of health metrics science at the University of Washington in Seattle, told The Associated Press that he believes the true number of US cases – including those not included in any official tally – is already peaking. Maybe last week. “The faster it went up, the faster it’s going to come down,” he predicted.

It is clear that the current emergency is not on the verge of ending. Cases seem to have peaked only in places where Omicron arrived early, mostly in the Northeast. Cases are still increasing in most parts of the country.

Already, some hospitals have been flooded, and hospitalization trends often outstrip caseload trends by about a week. The trend of deaths subsides for a few more weeks. “It’s going to be a tough two or three weeks,” Mokdad said. America is certainly one of those unconvinced for a frightening amount of serious illness in the coming weeks.

(Related: Scott Kirby, CEO of United Airlines, said 3,000 employees had recently tested positive for the virus, with zero immunization employees hospitalized. That’s a big change. A vaccine mandate by the company Prior to implementation, on average, more than one United employee was dying from Covid each week.)

Still, the beginning of the end of the Omicron wave – if it turns out to be real – would be great news.

This would mean that a milder variant had become the predominant form of COVID, but there was no longer a rise in cases and heavy hospitalizations. This would mean that millions of Americans had built up additional immunity as a result of the Omicron infection. This would mean that the country would have taken a major step towards a future in which Covid is an endemic disease like flu, not a pandemic that dominates life.

Lauren Ansel Meyers, who runs a COVID analysis project at the University of Texas, said people may soon see Omicron as a turning point. “At some point, we’ll be able to draw a line — and Omicron may be that point — where we transition from a looming global threat to something that’s a more manageable disease,” she told the AP.

Of course, as we all should have come to know by now, COVID may also surprise again. Another possibility, Meyers said, is that a dangerous new variant could emerge this spring. That result is both improbable and plausible, which is always a difficult combination to comprehend.

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The idea dates back to at least 2019, when an English knitwear brand introduced a tag on its sweaters to help customers see where its merino wool came from, Dana Thomas writes in The Times. Recently, a sustainable brand in Nashville added something that looks similar to a nutrition label, showing how the manufacturing of its shoes affects the workers involved and the environment.

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Nation World News Desk
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