As the United States and the rest of the world have been pummeled for nearly two years by the COVID-19 pandemic, America presently stands at almost 51.5 million officially registered coronavirus infections, and more than 811,000 fatalities.
However, as the new and seemingly more contagious omicron variant already reached and settled in the US, a particularly shocking new forecast predicts America’s COVID-19 infections are set to come close to 200 million by March 2022.
The forecast made by researchers from the Health Metrics and Evaluation Institute (IHME) of the University of Washington, states omicron’s higher transmissibility will cause an additional 140 million Americans to become infected with the respective COVID-19 variant within three months.
Its projection predicts some 60% of the entire US population will be infected by then, and daily COVID deaths are going to spike, reaching a record daily peak of 2,800 sometime in mid-February.
As of Thursday, the number of officially recognized cases of the omicron variant in the US surpassed 2,000.
At the same time, however, the researchers noted the vast majority of the predicted 140 million COVID-19 infections would be “asymptomatic”, and most of the infected wouldn’t even realize they were infected.
The Director of IHME, Dr. Chris Murray, told USA Today his team indeed expects the “surge” in COVID-19 infections to be “enormous,” due to the “spread of omicron.”
He mentioned the institute’s estimates are about 40% – or about 130 million – of all Americans have been infected with the coronavirus already, a tally far surpassing the officially registered 50+ million cases, since it also claims to include asymptomatic cases.
Far More Contagious, but Far Milder Than Delta
At the same time, IHME researchers believe there will be a giant spike in COVID-19 infections; however, they also made it clear they think omicron will actually cause fewer hospitalizations and fewer deaths than the more severe delta variant.
According to the new projection, even at the peak of 2,800 COVID-19 deaths per day, the number of fatalities from omicron would still be lower than the over 3,000 daily deaths America saw in January 2021.
Presently, about 1,500 Americans per day perish from coronavirus. The forecast of the University of Washington scholars also says, because of the vast majority of asymptomatic cases with omicron, only some 400,000 new cases will be reported per day on average, instead of more than one million.
Murray defended the largely pessimistic projection of his team by saying it is based on the available information, including the fact omicron already causes 73% of all new COVID-19 infections in America.
He described omicron as even less severe than the flu, since COVID-19 has been considered to be about ten times more severe than the regular flu.
The new omicron variant is roughly ten times less severe than the COVID delta variant, but a lot more contagious.
SAGE cried wolf. Routine healthcare and operations were cancelled. Care homes shut their doors. Kids missed end of term fun. The run up to Christmas was ruined. Big Pharma sold more jabs.
Yet omicron is mild, as South Africa always said.
This should be a watershed moment.
— Isabel Oakeshott (@IsabelOakeshott) December 23, 2021
BREAKING New #Omicron study in Scotland and it looks like good news. ‘Early national data suggests that Omicron is associated with a two-thirds reduction in the risk of COVID-19 hospitalisation when compared to Delta.’ Experts from Edinburgh & Strathclyde Uni.
— Nichola Kane (@NicholaKane_) December 22, 2021
There's been a lot of new data for Omicron in the last day, much still preliminary, but here's my summary of the good and bad pic.twitter.com/pL8uiD7hfV
— Eric Topol (@EricTopol) December 10, 2021