Has Omicron Peaked?

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The Omicron variant has been all the news for the last two months since it was discovered, but luckily, it seems to be less of a threat than previous COVID-19 variants. Omicron frightened many at first, but has it peaked now? Read on below to find out.

The short answer

The short answer is that, yes, most sources seem to currently indicate that the omicron variant has peaked and is on its way out (at least for now). At omicron’s peak, the U.S. was reporting over a million daily confirmed cases, but for the last week or so, that number has usually been below half a million and seems to be on a downward slope.

Future variants

The World Health Organization and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are currently monitoring several COVID-19 variants that could prove to be more threatening than omicron. According to Leonardo Martinex, an infectious disease researcher at Boston University, “The faster omicron spreads, the more opportunities there are for mutation, potentially leading to more variants.”

There are currently ten COVID-19 variants that the CDC classifies as “Variant Being Monitored,” or “VBM.” These variants are being monitored and studied in case any new data indicates that they may be problematic. As of now, however, the only variants that the CDC classifies as “Variant of Concern” are delta and omicron.

Lower death numbers

While Omicron is certainly more infectious than previous variants, the numbers are showing that it could be far less deadly. Despite the daily infection rate being significantly higher than with previous variants, the number of average daily deaths in the U.S. is less than half of what it was at the peak of the pandemic.

This change may be due to the rising number of vaccinated individuals, or the omicron variant might simply be weaker. Either way, lower death numbers are a great sign for the future.

How are hospitals doing?

While the death rate for omicron has been lower than that of previous variants, the main concern is that if hospitals are stretched to capacity, there won’t be room for everyone to be treated. A recent study found that 78% of the nation’s ICU beds are currently being used, and 30% of the nation’s hospitals have been experiencing a critical staff shortage.

This problem has been especially evident in southern states, including Texas and New Mexico, which currently have over 90% of their ICU beds occupied. This problem is one of the most significant threats posed by COVID-19 in general and particularly the omicron variant. Though death numbers have been low so far, if hospitals reach capacity, the death numbers will most likely begin to rise.

It’s not over yet

While falling case rates are good news, they don’t mean the omicron variant is in the past. The average daily case numbers are still significantly higher than they were with previous variants, and as countries continue to open up and get rid of restrictions, we can expect to see case numbers stay up for a while.

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