With Covid-19 hospitalisations rising as the holiday season gets into full swing, experts are urging people to take precautionary measures against a new variant that may quickly sweep the nation.
While the Delta variant is still a worrying presence, there could be millions of more Americans infected within weeks due to the high transmissibility of the Omicron variant, said Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota.
“I think we’re really just about to experience a viral blizzard,” Osterholm told CNN’s Erin Burnett on Thursday. “I think in the next three to eight weeks, we’re going to see millions of Americans are going to be infected with this virus, and that will be overlaid on top of Delta, and we’re not yet sure exactly how that’s going to work out.”
With so many possible cases from Omicron — which scientists believe to be more contagious though most cases so far appear to be mild — there will be a serious strain on the health care system as more workers will likely get sick, Osterholm said.
“What you have here right now is a potential perfect storm,” Osterholm said. “I’ve been very concerned about the fact that we could easily see a quarter or a third of our health care workers quickly becoming cases themselves.”
Andy Slavitt, a former senior pandemic adviser to President Joe Biden, said that while tools such as vaccines are now available rather than during last winter’s surge, “a very rough January” lies ahead due to Omicron.(CNN)