One year ago on Saturday, the FDA gave the first emergency use authorization for a Covid-19 vaccine to Pfizer. Now a year later, cases are once again on the rise and the Omicron variant is being investigated here in the US as scientists look to learn more. According to the CDC, the Omicron variant actually arrived in the US as early as November 15. This is more than two weeks earlier than it was initially thought as cases were found in California. CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said on Friday that “CDC has been actively addressing and evaluating the Omicron variant, and working with state and local jurisdictions to understand its spread.”
At the same time, however, Delta continues to be the dominant variant across the United States. The latest numbers show a 37.3% increase in cases from the previous week, and cases are up in 44 states.
While that surge is continuing on, health officials are identifying more cases of the Omicron variant. Numbers show that there have been at least 75 cases of the new variant across 25 different states. In 43 cases analyzed by the CDC, nearly 80% of them were fully vaccinated individuals. Over the past three weeks, insurer Discovery has been collecting real-world data about the effectiveness of the Pfizer vaccine against Omicron. Their data shows that getting two doses of the vaccine is 70% effective at preventing hospitalization. This data collection is awaiting peer review.
Cases are up in the northeast as well, with the latest numbers showing a 12% increase. Beyond that, hospitalizations are also on the rise. This has led New York Governor Kathy Hochul to reinstate a mask mandate throughout the state. That mandate started yesterday and will continue until January 15. The mandate is for all indoor spaces, unless the business has a vaccine mandate in place.
Connecticut is seeing a major increase in hospitalizations. The latest numbers show that there has been an 81.5% increase in new hospitalizations over the past two weeks. Healthcare professionals are also saying that on average, the hospitalization cases they are seeing involve younger patients as compared to a year ago.