In a weekly epidemiological report released by the WHO, CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus cases increased by 39 percent in the Americas, with more than 1.4 million new cases between Dec. 20 and Dec. 26.
“The Region of the Americas reported the largest increase in new cases in the last week (39 percent), followed by the African Region, which reported an increase of 7 percent,” the WHO said.
The U.N. health agency said the spike in cases is being driven by the Omicron variant, which was named last month amid some controversy.
“The overall risk related to the new variant of concern Omicron remains very high,” WHO’s report said. “Consistent evidence shows that the Omicron variant has a growth advantage over the Delta variant with a doubling time of 2-3 days and rapid increases in the incidence of cases is seen in a number of countries, including those where the variant has become the dominant SARS-CoV-2 variant,” which is another name for the CCP virus.
In the United States, about 441,000 new cases were reported on Dec. 27, a record high, according to the most recent data provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Over the past seven days, an average of 240,000 cases have been reported—also a record high.
However, the U.S. hospitalization rate is far lower than previous COVID-19 surges, including when the Delta strain was the dominant variant over the summer, and during a spike in cases in January 2021.
According to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University, about 69,000 were hospitalized on Dec. 26. During the Delta surge, about 98,000 people were hospitalized on Sept. 1, the peak day, and on Jan. 14, 2021, about 133,000 people were hospitalized during the peak days of the January 2021 surge.
The Omicron variant is estimated to make up 58.6 percent of the COVID-19 variants circulating in the United States as of Dec. 25, the most recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) showed, published Tuesday.
With the apparently lower hospitalization rate, some public health authorities have called for governments and policymakers to place less emphasis on counting cases. Instead, they should focus on hospitalizations and deaths.
“For two years, infections always preceded hospitalizations which preceded deaths, so you could look at infections and know what was coming,” Ashish K. Jha, dean of Brown University and a former Harvard professor, told ABC’s “This Week” several days ago. “Omicron changes that. This is the shift we’ve been waiting for in many ways.”