The Omicron variant is showing more signs that it is starting to burn out this week with the rate of case growth slowing in 44 states over the past two days.
National case growth is slowing as well, with the daily case average stagnating around 786,000 after rocketing in recent weeks.
While cases are still on an upward trajectory, the massive slowing in cases adds to the growing body of evidence that the new strain is starting to run out of people to infect – a phenomena predicted by many U.S. health experts in recent weeks.
An analysis of data from Johns Hopkins University finds that the U.S. is averaging 786,406 new cases per day, a 121 percent jump over the past two weeks, and a 30 percent increase over the past seven days. For comparison, last Thursday, January 6, the U.S. was averaging 607,064 cases per day, a 70 percent increase over the previous week then. That means week over week case growth has more than slashed in half over the first half of January.
The largest drops in case growth in recent days have been experienced in Northeast, with states that were once seeing meteoritic case growth now seeing case rates starting to taper off. In New York and New Jersey, states that experienced a more than seven-fold increase in cases early in the Omicron surge are now seeing increases of around 40 percent over the past two weeks.
New York is averaging 350 new Covid cases per every 100,000 residents every day, a 45 percent increase over two weeks. While the Empire state is still among the national leaders in infection rate, it could slowly slide down the leaderboards.
Neighboring New Jersey is also among the U.S. leaders in infection rate, with 314 of every 100,000 residents testing positive daily. Like New York, cases in the Garden state are up 40 percent over the past two weeks, a sharp slow down from the tripling of cases the state experienced the start the new year.
Other states that were recording surges in recent weeks like Maryland, Georgia and Illinois have all seen case growth taper off in mid-January, signaling the peak is near in many U.S. states.
Once the peak is reached, cases could quickly start to decline. In the UK, which usually trends ahead of the U.S., cases are doing by nearly 40 percent over the past week, a miraculous decline for a nation that many people felt was going to be totally overwhelmed by the virus only weeks ago. The nation’s capital, London, emerged as an early global hotspot for the variant, and has already seen cases fall off as well.
South Africa, the place of Omicron’s discovery and the first place to feel the effects of the highly infectious variant, has seen a massive drop in daily cases in recent weeks as well, with current daily case figures hovering around 6,500 – down 70 percent from the late December peak on 23,000 cases per day.
In the U.S., case changes are usually calculated on a two week basis. Due to the large, decentralized nature of America when compared to other countries, reporting day to day can be inconsistent. Some states log cases on all five weekdays and even weekends, while others may only report cases once a week.
To normalize for the inconsistencies, daily case counts are averaged on a weekly basis and compared to each other over two week spans to determine case change rate.
A decreasing case change rate in 44 of America’s 50 states on Thursday when compared to Wednesday – along with a decreasing national case change rate, shows that the recent changes are not just outliers, but a real nationwide pandemic trend.
Many experts have also predicted a peak being reached in the U.S. in the near future. Dr Ali Mokdad, of the University of Washington in Seattle, told the Associated Press this week that he also believes the same will occur, and that cases could even start rapidly declining soon.
‘It’s going to come down as fast as it went up,’ Mokdad, who teaches health metrics at the school, said.
Dr Pavitra Roychoudhury, a bioinformatics expert also at the University of Washington, told DailyMail.com that more tests than ever are coming back positive at the moment, and while it is overwhelming, the recent surge should peak soon.
‘My understanding is that eventually there’ll be enough people will infected that there’ll be some sort of some sort of immunity that will be established,’ she said.
‘That will result in those case numbers plateauing, and then starting to turn down again… It can’t come soon enough.’
Dr Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Disease and the country’s top infectious disease expert, said Tuesday the variant will eventually infect almost everyone in America.
‘Omicron, with its extraordinary, unprecedented degree of efficiency of transmissibility, will ultimately find just about everybody,’ Fauci said
‘Those who have been vaccinated … and boosted would get exposed. Some, maybe a lot of them, will get infected but will very likely, with some exceptions, do reasonably well in the sense of not having hospitalization and death.’
New York and New Jersey were not the only states to see case growth slow in recent weeks. Maryland is now posting the lowest rate of new cases in America, with new daily cases up by 33 percent over the past two weeks. The state was among the leaders in case growth recently, though issues with data reporting earlier in the winter made some of its December figures unreliable.
Illinois was once an outlier in the Midwest due to high case growth compared to its peers. While many of its neighbors and states out west in the Great Plains were seeing cases decline in mid-December, the state still suffered case increases – mainly fueled by an outbreak in Chicago.
The variant is burning out their as well, though, with cases only up 71 percent over the past two weeks, and the infection rate stalling out.
Georgia was far ahead of its neighbors in case growth in the U.S. south last week as well, with an Atlanta Covid surge causing statewide numbers to surge last week. While cases are still up – the Peach state has recorded an 81 percent increase in cases over the past two weeks – it is now the only state in the region where cases have not doubled over the past 14 days.
The states seeing case growth start to shrink are at their peaks – of course – but that also means their current infection rates are the highest. In New York, 350 of every 100,000 residents are testing positive for Covid every day, the second highest rate in the nation.
New Jersey is also among the five U.S. states with an infection rate of 300 for every 100,000 residents, at 314.
Rhode Island remains the national leader in Covid infections.
As of now, 1,718 Americans are dying of Covid every day, a 35 percent increase over the past two weeks. While case growth has slowed, deaths have still slowly risen this week. According to Dr Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), these recent increases are more attributable to the Delta variant rather than Omicron.
The CDC reports that 98 percent of active U.S. cases are of Omicron, with Delta making up less than two percent. The agency found that Omicron is around 91 percent less deadly than its predecessor, though, and believes the lingering circulation of Delta is still causing the most harm.
Americans hospitalized with Covid are at record levels as well, with 148,782 people receiving treatment daily. Not all of these people are receiving treatment for Covid, though, as some people arriving at facilities to treat another condition are testing positive while there and being added to the ledger.
Data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) finds that 80 percent of U.S. hospital beds are currently occupied, with 20 percent being used by Covid-positive patients.
‘Omicron wave has peaked’ in UK, top epidemiologist suggests
The UK’s largest symptom-tracking study also found that Britain’s Omicron outbreak was falling last week in all age groups and regions except the North East. King’s College London experts estimated the number of people falling ill with the virus each day plunged 12 percent, with 183,000 symptomatic infections now occurring every day.
Professor Tim Spector, the epidemiologist who leads the study, argued the data ‘suggests the Omicron wave has peaked’, chiming with official statistics and a raft of other studies. He also said it was ‘reassuring’ that cases had flatlined in the elderly, who were most at risk from the highly-transmissible variant.
And Professor Spector claimed Omicron would likely ‘continue to circulate at manageable levels in the population until late spring’ and that symptoms of the virus were now ‘indistinguishable’ from common colds or flu.
Covid cases in the UK have decreased for eight consecutive days, and are down 40 percent over the past week
The U.S. often follows just behind the UK, and there are early signs nationwide that the Omicron variant-fueled Covid surge is starting to peak in America as well
If the UK is any indicator for the U.S., which it often is, the recent increase in both hospitalizations and deaths could soon fall – alongside cases – in the near future.
The nation recorded 109,133 new cases Friday – far below the the record of over 220,000 cases that was set last week. It is the eighth consecutive day of case decreases and week to week cases are down 39 percent over the past seven days.
Deaths are creeping up in the nation, with 335 people succumbing to the virus Friday. While the figure has increased over the past week, there were unusually low numbers recorded last week due to the holidays, and deaths often lag behind cases anyways. Hospitalizations have slightly increased in recent days as well, though they never raised at anywhere near the rate that cases did.
National Health Service (NHS) leaders have publicly voiced optimism that Omicron-fueled pressure on hospitals has already peaked and that eight new Nightingale surge hubs will not be needed.
It came as the country’s largest symptom-tracking study also found that Britain’s Omicron outbreak was falling last week in all age groups and almost all regions of the country.
King’s College London experts estimated the number of people falling ill with the virus each day has plunged 12 percent, with 183,000 symptomatic infections now occurring every day.
Meanwhile, the UK Health Security Agency’s weekly report today revealed that Covid cases fell in 87 per cent of England’s areas last week, or 129 out of 149 local authorities.
For comparison, it was only dropping in 18 council areas in the previous seven-day spell.
Its figures — based on national testing data — also revealed cases dropped in all age groups except the under-20s, and across all regions except the North East.
London, once a global hotspot of the Omicron variant is now seeing cases recede as well. Like New York in the U.S., England’s capital was the first city to experience a massive surge of cases in the UK. Cases quickly spiked with more than 20,000 people testing positive for the virus every day in the city in late December and early January. The city has experienced a sharp fall off in recent days, though, and fell back beneath the 20,000 case per day mark this week.
South Africa was the first country to get slammed by the Omicron variant. Officials discovered the highly infectious, highly mutated and vaccine evasive strain of the virus in late November. They initially found dozens of cases of the variant in many people who were fully vaccinated.
The nation is averaging 6,000 new cases per day, a 70 percent drop from the record 23,195 cases per day in late December. Once that peak was reached, cases started the rapidly decline – just as what occurred in the UK.
Denmark, which also emerged as an early hub for the Omicron variant, is starting to peak as well. New daily cases have steadied at around 20,000 per day since the start of the new year after a rapid five-fold increase in infections in December.
While the sharp decline the UK and South Africa have seen has not yet been witnessed by the Nordic nation, local officials are starting to relax restrictions imposed to control the spread of Omicron last month in hopes that the variant is burning out for them as well.
Danish health officials are also starting to offer fourth doses of the Covid vaccines to the nation’s most highly vulnerable, following a move made by Israel last month.