CDC slashes Omicron estimates: See recent California cases

LOS ANGELES, CA – The highly contagious Omicron variant of coronavirus has officially overtaken the Delta variant in California, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In California, Omicron cases surpass Delta, representing 54.5 percent of cases compared to Delta, which represents 45.2 percent of cases, according to the CDC.

The latest results come when the Food and Drug Administration signaled plans to allow booster shots for people as young as 12-year-olds on Thursday. The administration also moved to revise the recommendation to get the booster syringe to five months after being fully vaccinated instead of six months. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is expected to address the issue next week. The booster shots are seen as the key to protecting the nation during the Omicron wave.

However, federal health officials went back to week-old estimates claiming that the highly contagious omicron variant is responsible for nearly 3 out of 4 new coronavirus cases in parts of the United States.

On December 18, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that 73 percent of new cases were related to omicron. This week, however, the agency revised those figures, reducing the previous estimate to 23 percent – a drop of almost 50 percentage points.

The drastic change suggests that although omicron cases are increasing, the variant does not infect humans at the rate that the CDC had expected.

The Omicron variant is represented by the purple part of the pie, while the Delta variant is represented in orange. (Center for Disease Control and Prevention).

“There’s no way around it, it’s a huge turn that makes it seem like something went really wrong,” said Dr. Shruti Gohil, associate medical director at UC Irvines School of Medicine, for National Public Radio. “But there’s always a delay in the test information that comes in, and that’s what the public should take away.”

The new data comes a month after omicron was discovered half a world away, and days after Americans were gathered for the holidays.

Despite this week’s revision, omicron cases are rising nationwide. The variant accounted for nearly 59 percent of all new cases in the week ending December 25th. The Delta variant – the variant that is more likely to cause serious illness – still accounts for nearly 41 percent of new cases.

In some regions of the country, the increase in omicron cases is significantly higher than the national average. The variant accounts for more than 88 percent of new infections in the Northeast and nearly 87 percent in the Texas region.

The Delta variant had been dominant since June, representing as late as the end of November 99.5 percent of new cases.

Only about 33 percent of Americans have had their COVID-19 booster shot, which health authorities say is the best defense against the omicron variant. About 62 percent of Americans are fully vaccinated but have not been boosted, and health authorities are concerned about the country’s ability to withstand a fifth wave of COVID-19.

For more information, go to the CDC data tracker.

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