The new variant has quickly supplanted Delta as the dominant form of COVID-19 in the country.
The Omicron Variant of COVID-19 has overtaken Delta to be the dominant strain of the disease in the U.S.
According to a report from Bloomberg, the portion of cases attributed to Omicron exploded from 3 percent last week to a staggering 73 percent this week. The increase was expected and is similar to that seen in other countries struggling with the new variant.
In some areas of the country, the variant makes up an even larger portion of COVID-19 cases. Omicron is tied to 92 percent of cases in New York and New Jersey and 96 percent of cases in the state of Washington, the report says.
The designation was made based on evidence presented to the WHO's Technical Advisory Group on Virus Evolution that Omicron has several mutations that may affect how the variant behaves, ie, the severity of disease it causes, its degree of transmissibility, and the variant's immune escape potential--that is, whether it can bypass protection offered by current COVID-19 vaccines.
Omicron was first identified in South Africa and reported to the WHO on November 24; it has now been detected in Australia, Belgium, Botswana, Britain, Denmark, Germany, Hong Kong, Israel, Italy, the Netherlands, France, Canada, and South Africa. At least 44 countries have imposed travel restrictions from several African countries, reports CNN. Japan and Israel have banned all foreign nationals from entering their countries. Health officials in Canada confirmed the country's first 2 cases in Ottawa on Sunday, November 28.
There have been 50 mutations identified in the B.1.1.529 lineage, the most concerning being more than 30 in the spike protein region, the area that facilitates a virus' entry into the host cell, enhancing its transmissibility as well as the potential for immunoescape.