Omicron death rate higher than during Delta Surge

February 9, 2022

With the Omicron variant accounting for nearly 100% of COVID-19 cases in the United States, the seven-day average of daily COVID-related deaths recently reached 2,600, the highest rate in about a year, The Washington Post reported.

That’s more than the roughly 2,000 daily deaths last fall during the Delta wave, but less than the 3,000 daily deaths last January, when COVID vaccines were not widely available, according to The Post’s data analysis.

The Omicron variant generally causes less severe disease than other strains of COVID, but because it is so transmissible, Omicron infects greater numbers of people than previous strains.

“Even if fewer people get serious illness and die on a case-by-case basis, you’ll get a significant number if you apply a small percentage to a very large number,” said Jennifer Nuzzo, an epidemiologist at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. , told The Post.

The unvaccinated, the over-75s and those with underlying medical conditions are the groups most at risk from Omicron, according to The Post. About half of the deaths in January 2022 were among the over-75s, compared with about a third in September during the Delta wave.

The age trend is seen in Florida, said Jason Salemi, an epidemiologist at the University of South Florida College of Public Health. He told The Post that seniors were responsible for about 85% of deaths last winter, about 60% during the Delta wave and about 80% now during the Omicron wave.

The rise in senior deaths may have occurred because seniors vaccinated in early 2021 were not given a boost before the Omicron peak, he said.

“Omicron may be less severe for younger people, but it will still find vulnerable seniors in our community,” Salemi said. “That vaccination in February isn’t as effective now if you don’t get a boost.”

CDC data shows that 95% of people in the United States over 65 have received at least one dose of vaccine, 88.5% have been fully vaccinated, but only 62.5% have received a booster dose.

The COVID death rate is highest in the Midwest. In the past two months, Chicago reported more than 1,000 COVID deaths, nearly the same as the December 2020 peak, according to The Post. Minorities are hit hard. About a third of the city’s population is black, but about half of its COVID victims are black, The Post said.

“It was challenging because it goes against the national narrative that ommicron is nothing dangerous,” said Allison Arwady, commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health.

In a news conference Wednesday at the White House, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, MD, gave slightly different statistics on COVID-related deaths. She said the seven-day average of daily deaths was about 2,400, a 3% increase from the previous week.

The seven-day daily average of cases is about 247,300 cases per day, a 44% drop from the previous week, she said. Hospital admissions are about 13,000 per day, down 25% from the previous week.

Walensky said the Omicron variant is now responsible for nearly 100% of the COVID viruses circulating in the United States.

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