The United States government announced that several dozen new cases of the Omicron coronavirus variant have been identified in the region, a number that the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Dr. Rochelle Walensky said is "likely to rise."

Roughly a third of all states in the country have reported cases of the new Omicron variant, including individuals who have no known history of recent travel abroad. Many experts said that the situation suggests community spread of the variant is already underway in the United States.

Omicron Variant in the US

To determine which variant of the coronavirus is present in an infected patient, medical professionals need to conduct genetic sequencing. While the United States has recently expanded efforts for genetic sequencing, the process still takes quite a bit of time.

For instance, the CDC usually takes about 10 days to produce results from genetic sequencing and Walensky said that about 14% of all positive PCR tests in the region are being sequenced. Experts are raising concerns over the need to identify the variant due to it having various mutations that suggest it could be highly transmissible and resistant to vaccines, the New York Times reported.

Read Also: United Kingdom's Omicron Cases Reach 246; Travel Restrictions, Red List Countries Updated

However, the nation's top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, said that while the Omicron variant has forced international panic, the Delta variant is still the bigger threat. On Sunday, Fauci said that the Delta coronavirus variant still causes the most number of infections across the region.

Citing the Omicron variant, Fauci said that "thus far it does not look like there's a great degree of severity to it." The medical professional added that it was still too early to draw conclusions regarding the threat of the new variant and noted the need for further study.

Most Dominant Variant

Fauci, who is also United States President Joe Biden's chief medical adviser, expressed his hopes that the U.S. would soon lift its travel ban on travelers from South African countries. The South African government said it felt like it was being punished for detecting the new variant and immediately informing international health officials, Reuters reported.

For the first time in two months, the United States is averaging over 100,000 new coronavirus infections daily. The situation is primarily attributed to the highly transmissible Delta variant that remains dominant despite the rise of the new variant.

The seven-day average that was recorded on Sunday showed more than 118,000 new cases per day. Oct. 6 was the last time that the United States topped a daily new case record of 100,000, where the average recorded was more than 101,000 new infections per day.

In recent weeks, the demand for coronavirus vaccines has also skyrocketed as more Americans become eligible to get inoculated for booster shots. The demand is also a result of growing concerns over the severity of the new Omicron variant that came from South Africa.

Despite the rising panic over the new variant, the Delta variant still remains the most infectious and deadly of mutations in the United States, the Washington Post reported.


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