According to public health experts in Denmark and Norway, the Omicron coronavirus variety would sweep over both nations within days, resulting in widespread illness and even death in the affected areas. In spite of the fact that scientists do not yet know how often the variation causes serious sickness, they believe that its quick pace of transmission will result in an explosion of cases and might possibly raise strain on hospitals, even if the variant turns out to be harmless.
The studies come on the heels of equally alarming findings from England, which were disclosed over the weekend. However, experts warn that the pattern may shift when the variation becomes more clearly visible over time. No one knows how often Omicron infections will send individuals to the hospital, or how many patients who are sent to the hospital will succumb to their illness. Furthermore, although Omicron has the ability to partially elude immune systems, researchers have not yet determined how effectively immunizations and past infections would protect patients against severe sickness.
Booster efforts and limiting possibilities for Omicron to spread, according to the authors of both recent papers, might help to mitigate the effect of the variation if implemented quickly.
In the United States, however, no models of Omicron’s rise have been released by American scholars. In terms of vaccination rates and some Covid risk indicators, such as the average population age, experts point out that the country is comparable to Norway and Denmark, which are both Scandinavian countries.
Early in the pandemic, the government established a comprehensive monitoring system that included wide-scale coronavirus testing as well as genetic sequencing of a huge number of samples. As a result of this technique, Denmark has been able to identify newly emerging variations even when they are at low levels and change public health policy in order to prepare for potential outbreaks.
Three days later, on December 3, the first Omicron sample from Denmark was sequenced. The specimen was taken on Nov. 23, which was about the same time that experts in South Africa announced to the globe that there had been an increase in cases in that country.
In order to reduce the time it takes to sequence genetic material from coronavirus samples, Danish researchers devised a rapid genetic test that detects a few crucial changes seen exclusively in the Omicron virus strain. Every positive test result in Denmark is now being checked for the new version, giving in an unprecedentedly complete picture of Omicron’s spread throughout the country.
A study issued on Monday by the Statens Serum Institute in Copenhagen projected that Omicron cases in Denmark were doubling every two days, according to the researchers who wrote the paper. According to the research, Omicron is spreading far more quickly than Delta, which suggests that the new variation will overtake Delta by the middle of next week.
Three-quarters of the Omicron instances occur among persons who have had two vaccination doses, which is almost the same proportion of the population that is completely vaccinated throughout the country as is now the case. That high proportion implies that vaccinations provide minimal protection against infection, despite the fact that most experts think that the doses will still be effective in preventing serious illness and death.
It is consistent with a lesser report of Omicron infections in the United States that the Danish findings are reliable. Out of 43 confirmed instances, 34 (or around 79 percent) were patients who had received their whole recommended vaccination schedule.
“This thing has the potential to spread, and it has the potential to spread whether or not you were vaccinated,” Christina Ramirez, a biostatistician at the University of California, Los Angeles, said.
In recent days, researchers in Norway have also seen a fast increase in the number of Omicrons in the atmosphere. On Monday, the Norwegian Institute of Public Health issued a statement saying that the Omicron type is getting more entrenched and would soon dominate.
Additionally, the Norwegian government increased the speed of its booster deployment and announced additional new measures on Monday, but it refrained from implementing a complete lockdown. Indoor mask requirements, a prohibition on providing alcoholic beverages, limits on social gatherings, and social distance rules at scheduled events are among the new measures.
Doctor Christopher Murray, director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, predicted that Omicron would spread quickly through the population in the United States as well. The University of Washington is planning to release its Omicron models later this week, according to Murray.
According to Joshua Salomon, an infectious disease specialist and modeller at Stanford University, a spike in Delta cases is already putting a strain on certain hospitals, and Omicron’s arrival coincides with the beginning of flu season.