People take COVID-19 tests at pop-up testing site in New York City on December 7, 2021.

Omicron cases could be peaking roughly a month after they started rising in the US, models suggest.
Disease experts predict that cases could fall back down as quickly as they rose.
By the end of the wave, Omicron may have infected “a substantial fraction,” if not a majority, of the US.

Omicron appears to take a swifter, sharper course than its predecessors: Cases of the variant tend to rise within a population for about a month, then fall back down just as quickly, early observations suggest.

South Africa’s daily COVID-19 cases began to drop off in late December, roughly one month after scientists first spotted Omicron there. The United Kingdom seems to have followed suit: Daily COVID-19 cases started rising there in early December, but in the last week they’ve fallen 14%, on average, from around 181,000 to 156,000 cases per day. 

New models predict the US could be headed for a similar trajectory.

“It’s certainly possible that we could see a rapid fall just as much as we’ve seen a rapid rise,” David Dowdy, an epidemiologist at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, told Insider.

According to projections from the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), daily coronavirus infections may have already peaked at more than 6.2 million on January 6. A recent report from the University of Texas suggests that daily COVID-19 cases could peak around Thursday. The model assumes, based on the current science, that Omicron is more transmissible and better at evading the immune system than Delta, but results in less severe disease.

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Those same models, however, predict that Omicron will continue to drive up COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths in the US through the end of January. The IHME model estimates that COVID-19 deaths will peak at around 2,100 per day on January 28.

Omicron’s rise and fall could be even more dramatic on the local level, Dowdy said — though many cities and states haven’t seen the worst of their outbreaks yet.

“What we’re seeing on a national level is a smoothing over of all of these local effects,” Dowdy said, adding: “The West Coast is just taking off. The South is just taking off. You’re going to see these cases continue to rise because there are more places where it’s taking off than where it’s peaking.”

Winter weather and indoor gatherings may have fueled Omicron’s rapid rise 
A student arrives for classes at A. N. Pritzker elementary school on January 12, 2022 in Chicago, Illinois.

A highly transmissible virus tends to tear quickly through a population until it runs out of people to infect, and Omicron may be close to reaching that point. The US already reported its highest-ever number of daily cases — more than 1.4 million — on Monday, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. That’s nearly five times the number of daily cases reported during the last peak in January …read more

Source:: Business Insider


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