Dr. Anthony Fauci warned that the next few weeks will see severe stress on hospital systems as the omicron variant is “raging around the world.”
Fauci, the president’s chief medical adviser, said there is no doubt on omicron’s “extraordinary capability” for transmission on Sunday’s “Meet the Press.” Although the latest coronavirus mutation appears to have less severe symptoms in vaccinated people, Fauci warned that its transmissibility counteracts the mildness of the cases.
“Because our hospitals, if things look like they’re looking now, in the next week or two are going to be very stressed with people because again, we have so many people in this country who are eligible to be vaccinated who have not yet been vaccinated,” Fauci said.
It’s already clear that the new variant is “raging through the world,” he said. Cases have risen significantly in some areas in the U.S., hitting major metro-areas such as New York City particularly hard in the past week.
Case surges have recently forced major sports leagues to postpone games and cancellations to Broadway shows. The NBA announced Sunday that it would be delaying five games due to players and staff members entering health and safety protocols.
Schools, such as Cornell University and Harvard University, also made decisions in the last week to revert back to online learning as campuses see increased community spread.
Omicron was first detected last month by researchers in South Africa.
The hospitalization to case ratio appears to be smaller than with the prior coronavirus variant of concern, delta, according to Fauci, who cited early data out of South Africa. But he was also cautious about that information, saying the region has much more experience with prior infections.
By Doha Madani, NBC News