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‘3bn Omicron cases likely in next 2 months, 35mn cases/day’

Comparing the Omicron variant with the Delta variant, IHME research says that the Omicron is more transmissible and with 40-60 per cent more immune escape properties.

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New Delhi: A global health research body has forecast three billion cases of the Omicron within the next two months worldwide even as the India tally of the new Covid variant inched closer to 300 in India on Thursday.

Citing its latest research, the University of Washington-based Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) forecast on Thursday a global spread of 3 billion Covid-19 infections dominated by Omicron variant.
“The research forecasts around 3 billion infections to occur in the next 2 months. That’s as many infections as was seen in the first 2 years of the pandemic. Peak transmission should be in mid-January with over 35 million global infections a day, nearly three times the Delta wave peak in April,” the institute said in a statement.

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Given the immune escape and transmissibility, eventually, Omicron will reach all countries soon, according to the IHME research report.
“Even countries with strict border controls like New Zeeland based on the Delta experience are likely to eventually see Omicron surges in all country including China we expect in the future. Detected infections at the global level will reach three times previous peaks. In the US, the peak will be over 400,000 a day,” it noted.

Comparing the Omicron variant with the Delta variant, IHME research says that the Omicron is more transmissible and with 40-60 per cent more immune escape properties.

However, it also shared that based on the best available data, the infection-hospitalization rate is dramatically lower than Delta.
“The infection-hospitalization is likely to be 90-96 per cent lower than for Delta. The infection-fatality rate is also likely to be 97-99 per cent lower than for Delta,” the report suggested.

The analysis by IHME also stated that booster doses of Covid-19 vaccines will reduce hospitalization and deaths among the patients.
“More rapid and extensive delivery of third doses of vaccine will also reduce the burden of hospitalization and death. The unvaccinated and never infected are at the greatest risk. Vaccination for the unvaccinated is a powerful way to reduce personal risk,” it said.

Noting a high fraction of asymptomatic cases led by Omicron IHME Director Christopher Murray stated employers and schools will need to re-evaluate their approach to testing and quarantine.

“Given the rapid spread of Omicron and the high fraction asymptomatic combined with much lower infection-hospitalization and infection-fatality rates, employers and schools will need to re-evaluate their approach to testing and quarantine. Going forward, tracking hospitalizations rather than reported cases will be a more relevant measure for local action than case counts,” he said.

“Omicron which has a critical impact on the forecasts of hospitalization and death. More data in the next 3-4 weeks may change the scenario,” Murray added.

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