Omicron is suddenly responsible for 73% of new COVID cases in the US

Omicron is now the dominant variant in the US, surpassing delta, according to CDC data.

Jessica Rendall Wellness Writer
Jessica is a writer on the Wellness team with a focus on health news. Before CNET, she worked in local journalism covering public health issues, business and music.
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Jessica Rendall
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The omicron variant became the dominant coronavirus variant in the US for the week that ended Saturday, surpassing delta and accounting for 73.2% of new COVID-19 cases, according to data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

The CDC data was predicted using the agency's "nowcast" feature, which estimates more recent numbers of the circulating variants. According to the data, the delta variant made up 26.6% of COVID-19 cases the week ending Dec. 18. 

Health officials have said it was only a matter of time before omicron became the dominant variant, as it is the "most transmissible virus of COVID" we've had, according to the president's chief medical advisor, Dr. Anthony Fauci. And while research available now suggests that omicron isn't causing more severe disease than the delta variant, scientists are begging for people to understand that omicron is still on track to make a tremendous amount of people sick at once, which will overwhelm health care systems already strained with rising numbers of hospitalizations

In response to the new variant's ability to evade people's immunity from past COVID-19 infections and the immunity given through the COVID-19 vaccines, health officials have turned up the volume on their call for all fully vaccinated people age 16 and up to get a COVID-19 booster shot of either Pfizer or Moderna. Because omicron is more likely to cause breakthrough infections, booster doses will rebuild protection, they say. 

Unvaccinated people remain particularly vulnerable to severe disease and death from COVID-19. In October, unvaccinated people were 14 times more likely to die from COVID-19 than fully vaccinated people, according to the CDC. 

The news comes as many stores sell out of at-home COVID-19 tests, as many people travel and start gathering for the holidays. Public health officials have been encouraging people to test before meeting with people outside of your household as another measure to help curb the spike of COVID-19 cases. 

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.