COVID-19 infections hit a new all-time high on Monday as more than 1.44 million cases were reported globally. A Bloomberg report said that the single-day record high was also accompanied by an all-time high for the seven-day average, confirming that the record was not an aberration but the trend of infections following the spread of the Omicron variant.
Since its first report just over a month ago, the Omicron variant has been spreading fast and is expected to become the dominant strain around the globe. Last week, it had already replaced the Delta variant in the U.S. as the highly mutated variant is capable of evading immunity provided by vaccines as well as previous infections, Bloomberg reported.
The U.S. continues to report the highest number of cases in a single day with over 512,000 infections reported just yesterday. Luckily, the average number of deaths caused by COVID hasn't risen, suggesting that illness caused by the new variant might not be as severe, especially for those who have been vaccinated and have received a booster dose, Bloomberg reported. Nevertheless, governments around the globe are sounding notes of caution given the highly infectious variant could still overwhelm healthcare infrastructure.
Speaking to ABC, Dr. Anthony Fauci warned against complacency due to the lesser severity of the disease. "If you have many, many, many more people with a less level of severity, that might kind of neutralize the positive effect of having less severity," Fauci said while warning that the rapid spread might harm those who remain unvaccinated. Just over 61 percent of Americans are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, and not even the Omicron variant appeared to have changed the opinions of the unvaccinated in the U.S., with a majority choosing to stay that way.
Former President Donald Trump, who had previously spoken against vaccines, recently revealed that he had received the booster shot and said that "results of vaccines are very good," ABC reported. Fauci added that together with masks and recently approved drugs to counter COVID-19, the U.S. government now has a comprehensive response to the outbreak.
Fauci did rue the fact that the U.S. government could have done better with regards to making rapid point-of-care tests available to Americans over the holiday season. Last week, President Biden announced that the government would distribute 500 million rapid tests in the country to whosoever asked for them, free of cost. However, these tests are likely to be available only by January and don't help the situation now, where there is a higher demand for testing among concerns about the Omicron variant, Fauci said.
Reluctance to impose restrictions on the movement of people as seen in the Netherlands is likely to aid the spread of the Omicron variant as people come together for the holiday season. Fauci expects the number to go much higher in the coming days.