Data shows CDC overestimated spread of omicron

Data published this week shows that omicron was three times less prevalent than previously reported.

Published: December 28, 2021 5:00pm

Updated: December 28, 2021 5:12pm

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) significantly overestimated the prevalence of the COVID-19 variant omicron according to revised data released Tuesday.

Omicron accounted for less than 59% of new COVID infections the week of Dec. 25, per new CDC data.

Data published this week shows that omicron was three times less prevalent last week than reported. The CDC stated previously that that about 73% of new COVID infections were caused by omicron for the week of Dec. 18. That number was revised Tuesday to 22.5% of cases. 

Scientists report that omicron is far more contagious than delta, the formerly prevailing variant which still accounted for about 41% of all COVID infections last week.

The CDC states that more data are required to determine the severity of omicron compared to other variants, but the organization still recommends preventing infection by getting vaccinated and wearing masks.

Studies from South Africa and the United Kingdom are more optimistic. In those countries, while COVID case numbers have risen, the number of deaths have not increased as expected so far.

In response to new data and the rise of the omicron variant, the CDC cut recommended quarantine time in half. People who test positive for COVID and are asymptomatic may now leave isolation after five days.

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