ATLANTA (AP) – In the United States, more than 40 people have been infected with the omicron variant so far, and more than three-quarters of them had been vaccinated, the CDC chief said on Wednesday. But she said almost all of them were only mildly ill.
In an interview with The Associated Press, Dr Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said the data is very limited and the agency is working on a more detailed analysis of what the new mutant form might contain. of the coronavirus. for the USA
“What we generally know is that the more mutations a variant has, the higher your immunity level should be.… We want to make sure that we are building everyone’s immunity. And that’s really what it is. which motivated the decision to expand our advice, “said Walensky. said, referring to the recent approval of boosters for all adults.
She said that “the disease is mild” in almost all of the cases seen so far, with the symptoms reported mainly being cough, congestion and fatigue. One person has been hospitalized, but no deaths have been reported, CDC officials said.
Some cases can become more severe over days and weeks, and Walensky noted that the data is a very early first glimpse of omicron infections in the United States. The earliest onset of symptoms in any of the first 40 or so cases was on November 15, according to the CDC.
The omicron variant was first identified in South Africa last month and has since been reported in 57 countries, according to the World Health Organization.
The first American case was reported on December 1. As of Wednesday afternoon, the CDC had recorded 43 cases in 19 states. Most were young adults. About a third of these patients had traveled abroad.
More than three-quarters of those patients had been vaccinated and one-third had received boosters, Walensky said. The boosters take about two weeks to reach their full effect, and some of the patients received their most recent injection during that time, CDC officials said.
Less than 1% of U.S. genetically sequenced COVID-19 cases last week were the omicron variant; the delta variant accounted for more than 99%.
The CDC has yet to make projections on how the variant might affect the course of the pandemic in the United States. Walensky said officials were collecting data, but there are many factors that could influence the course of the pandemic.
“When I look at what the future holds, a lot of it is certainly about science, but it’s also about coming together as a community to do things that prevent disease in and of each other. And I think a lot about what our future holds depends on how we come together to do it, ”she said.
The CDC is also trying to establish whether the omicron variant causes milder – or more severe – disease than other types of coronavirus. The conclusion that nearly all of the cases so far have been mild may reflect the fact that this first review of omicron cases in the United States mainly captured vaccinated people, who are expected to have milder illnesses, officials said. of the CDC.
Another key question is whether it’s better to escape the vaccines or the immunity people build from a fight with COVID-19.
This week, scientists in South Africa reported a small lab study that found antibodies created by vaccines were not as good at preventing omicron infections as they were at stopping others. versions of the coronavirus.
Vaccine maker Pfizer said on Wednesday that although two doses may not be protective enough to prevent infection, lab tests showed a boost increased levels of anti-virus antibodies by 25.
Blood samples taken a month after a booster showed people had levels of omicron neutralizing antibodies that were similar to amounts proven to protect against previous variants after two doses, the company said.