No deaths have been linked to Omicron yet, raising cautious optimism
At this point, some doctors are optimistic about omicron's effects.
No deaths have been recorded as of Wednesday in connection with the COVID-19 variant omicron, buoying health officials’ hopes it may be less severe than earlier strains.
Early studies show that omicron symptoms may be milder than other COVID strains, but it is far more transmissible than the dominant delta strain.
The San Francisco Chronicle reported Wednesday that "So far, only one person in the U.S. has been hospitalized with omicron infection and there have been no deaths linked to the mutation."
Hospitalizations and deaths lag behind infection rates by days or weeks.
The variant was first discovered in November in South Africa. Last week, the World Health Organization stated that although the new variant has been found in dozens of different countries, no deaths had been reported.
The New York Times reports that while hospitalizations and deaths are rising in the United States, it is "almost all due to the Delta variant."
Dr. Warner Greene, director of HIV research at the Gladstone Institute, told USA Today, "It would be a great thing if, in fact, omicron crowded out delta. If omicron was a less pathogenic virus, that would be very good news for the human race."
He told reporters that there has not been an increase in deaths or people in the hospital needing oxygen at this point.
Early data out of South Africa is encouraging, Green said. "This looks to be a highly infectious virus, but it may not be as virulent or as pathogenic as the delta variant."
During a White House Task Force meeting on Tuesday, Biden's Chief Medical Advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci said, "Hopefully in the next few weeks, we’ll get a much clearer picture… But it appears that with the cases that are seen, we are not seeing a very severe profile of disease. In fact, it might be — and I underscore might be — less severe as shown by the ratio of hospitalizations per number of new cases," the Washington Post reports.
In response to omicron, the Biden administration has instituted travel restrictions from several African nations, as well as more rigorous testing requirements for all international travelers to the United States.