Following a record increase in cases of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) during omicron-driven waves, more than 58% of the U.S. population and more than 75% of young children have been infected with the coronavirus since the onset of the epidemic, according to a U.S. Nationwide Blood Survey released Tuesday.
The study, released by the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention, marks the first time that more than half of the US population has been infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus at least once and offers a detailed view. Impact of Omicron Growth in the United States.
Before Omicron arrived in December 2021, more than a third of the U.S. population had evidence of SARS-CoV-2 infection.
According to new data, Omicron has increased the number of infections among all ages, but children and adolescents, many of whom remain unvaccinated, had the highest rates of infection, while people aged 65 and over – a heavily vaccinated population – had the lowest.
Between December and February – when Omicron cases increased in the United States – 75.2% of children 11 years of age and younger had infection-related antibodies in their blood, up from 44.2% in the previous three-month period. Of these 12-17 people, 74.2% carry antibodies, up from 45.6% from September to December.
The scientists looked for specific antibodies produced in response to the SARS-CoV-2 virus that are present only after infection and are not produced by the COVID-19 vaccine. Trace amounts of these antibodies can remain in the blood for up to two years.
“Having infection-induced antibodies does not mean that you will be protected from future infections,” said Christie Clark, CDC’s co-author of the study, during a media briefing. “We have not seen whether there are levels of human antibodies that provide protection against re-infection or serious disease.”
US Kovid-19 infections are on the rise, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky told reporters during a briefing that last week’s rise was 22.7% to 44,000 per day. Hospital admissions rose for the second week in a row, up 6.6%, driven primarily by Omicron’s subvariant.
Despite a 13.2% drop in weekly deaths, the United States quickly reached the alarming milestone of 1 million total COVID-related deaths.
Ms Walensky said the BA.1 variant, which was the cause of the Omicron wave, is now responsible for only 3% of US transmissions. Increasingly, he said, a submarine first discovered in New York called BA.2.121 makes up about 30% of US cases and appears to be 25% more contagious than Omicron’s highly contagious BA.2 subvariant.
In certain counties, including the high COVID-19 community spread, the CDC now recommends that people wear a mask in public indoor settings. It cites the upper part of New York and the Northeast as areas where hospital admissions are on the rise.
Ms. Walensky said the CDC continues to recommend masking in all indoor public transportation settings, and stressed that vaccination is the safest strategy to prevent complications from COVID-19.
More than 66% of the U.S. population has been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, and about 46% had a booster, according to federal data. – Reuters