CategoryVariant

Omicron waves appear to slow in New York City, other major metropolitan areas

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The explosion of omicron cases along the Interstate 95 corridor from the Mid-Atlantic to New England is showing signs of slowing down, according to health officials and epidemiologists, offering reason for cautious optimism that the turning point could be near and that the coronavirus variant’s U.S. trajectory is similar to that of other countries.

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) said Tuesday the rates of tests returning positive and case increases seem to be slowing — particularly in New York City, which emerged as an early epicenter of the highly contagious variant.

“They’re still high, but we are not at the end, but I want to say that this is, to me, a glimmer of hope, a glimmer of hope in a time when we desperately need that,” Hochul said at a news conference.

“Omicron is more like a flash flood than a wave. It goes to enormously high levels very quickly and then, based on other parts of the world, may come down very quickly,” said Tom Frieden, a former Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director and New York City health commissioner. “We know that the more people who are up to date with their vaccines, the fewer deaths there will be, the fewer hospitalizations there will be and the less economic disruption there will be.”

David Rubin, who tracks national coronavirus trends for PolicyLab at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, says federal data shows a sharp decline in emergency room visits for coronavirus in the Northeast and the rest of the nation is on track to follow a similar path.

“You got a picture of an East Coast that’s rapidly improving, a Southeast that’s not far behind, a Midwest that’s maybe a week behind the East Coast while the West Coast has not yet peaked,” Rubin said. “Our assessment is we have likely peaked as a country.”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2022/01/12/covid-omicron-plateau-new-york


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‘Unambiguously good news’: Sharp decline in COVID wastewater levels in Boston area

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New data suggest omicron cases may have peaked in the Boston area. In December, the level of COVID found in the metro area’s sewage rose extremely rapidly. Now, those numbers show a sharp decline.

“When I refreshed the website and saw it, I literally punched the air and let out a hoot because it was something I’ve been hoping for,” said Bill Hanage, a professor of epidemiology and co-director of the Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics at Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health. “It’s unambiguously good news.”

The size of the decline, as well as the fact that it was consistent across both the northern and southern catchment areas, makes Hanage confident that the spike is over.

The Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA) collaborates with Biobot Analytics to measure the level of COVID found at its Deer Island Wastewater Treatment Plant. With testing shortages and large numbers of asymptomatic cases, experts have worried the state’s official case count is a severe undercount, and many have turned to wastewater measurements.

“It is an unbiased indicator of the number of people infected today,” said Scott Olesen, an epidemiologist at Biobot Analytics.

Hanage said the steep decline likely means major disruptions from illness and quarantines will subside.

https://www.wbur.org/news/2022/01/12/wastewater-covid-level-decline-new-data

Omicron leads to much shorter hospital stays, Californian study finds

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Omicron patients spend much less time in hospital compared to those infected with delta, according to a major new Californian study.

The preprint, which has not yet been peer-reviewed, analysed nearly 70,000 Covid patients across southern California infected in December – including roughly 52,000 infected with the highly mutated omicron variant.

Researchers found the risk of hospitalisation was cut in half, with 0.5 per cent of patients with omicron admitted compared to 1.3 per cent of those with delta (235 and 222 people respectively). This chimes with previous findings from the UK, South Africa and Denmark.

In the California study, the median duration of a hospital stay for those with omicron was also 3.4 days shorter than those admitted with delta – reflecting almost a 70 per cent reduction in the length of stay.

Dr Joseph Lewnard, an epidemiologist at the University of California, Berkeley and co-author of the study, described the reduction as “striking” in a Twitter thread.

“We identified substantially reduced risk of severe clinical outcomes among patients with presumed omicron variant infections,” the authors added in the preprint, published on medRxiv.

“Omicron variant infections were associated with 52 per cent, 53 per cent, 74 per cent, and 91 per cent reductions in risk of any subsequent hospitalisation, symptomatic hospitalisation, ICU admission, and mortality, relative to delta variant infections,” they said.

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/global-health/science-and-disease/omicron-leads-much-shorter-hospital-stays-californian-study


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England sees a drop of 29.5% in positive covid cases when comparing this tuesday against last

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Spain Calls for Debate to Consider Covid as Endemic, Like Flu

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Spain is calling on Europe to debate the possibility that Covid-19 can now be treated as an endemic illness, setting a model to monitor its evolution akin to the one used for flu.

“It’s a necessary debate; Science has given us the answer to protect ourselves,” Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said in interview yesterday with radio station Cadena Ser, adding that the virus’s lethality has been dropping since the beginning of the pandemic. “We have to evaluate the evolution of covid from pandemic to an endemic illness,” he said.

Sanchez’s comments come as omicron, the latest variant dominating large swathes of Europe, has seen lower rates of hospitalizations and deaths than previous strains even as infections have soared.

Sanchez said there may be reasons now, “with precaution,” to assess the disease with different parameters than those used so far.

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2022-01-11/spain-calls-for-debate-to-consider-covid-as-endemic-like-flu

New York Sees Signs of Omicron Peak

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New York’s Covid-19 infections may have reached a peak, about a month after the city’s first case of the omicron variant was identified.

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The seven-day average of people visiting New York emergency departments with Covid-like illness has dipped significantly in all five boroughs since the end of December, according to data from the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. The Bronx saw the biggest drop, with the 7-day average retreating 35% in the week through Friday.

Citywide, the rate of positive tests also appears to be declining, with the 7-day average down to 31% on Thursday, from a peak of 34% on Jan. 2.

New York Governor Kathy Hochul on Friday said it was too early to call a Covid peak but the data over the last few days made her “hopeful” that “hospitalizations should start seeing the beginnings of a plateau.” State Health Commissioner Mary Bassett told New Yorkers to expect a difficult January and that “things should be much better by February.”

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2022-01-10/new-york-sees-signs-of-omicron-peak-as-icus-remain-pressured

UK – It’s Good News Monday!

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