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  • Ryan Wittler

The Omicron Variant May Cause Record Daily Infections, But Fewer Hospitalizations and Deaths

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A new analysis from the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) is projecting the omicron surge will peak in a massive wave of new infections by mid-February.

Some highlights:

The analysis projects new infections will reach over 400,000 per day in the U.S. when the peak crests around February 13, well above the 250,000 at the peak of last winter’s surge. Globally, it projects 3 billion new cases over the next three months.

Still, based on currently available data, the researchers believe omicron infections will be more mild, resulting in daily hospitalizations peaking around 53,000 and daily deaths peaking around 2,000, both figures are lower than what we saw at the peak of the delta variant.

A note:

While modeling such as IHME’s is undoubtedly helpful, it’s important to remember what models are: projections based on the absence or presence of certain actions.

So, while IHME’s model shows omicron cases may spiral to a level reaching nearly 40% of the world’s population, with appropriate measures (e.g., masking, vaccine mandates, boosters, etc.), these projections should fall.

Some experts also believe it’s simply too early to make projections of this kind, as data from South Africa is now showing new cases are slowing, a sign that cases have already reached their peak there.

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