Omicron drives US deaths higher than Delta wave

28 January 2022, 20:44

Coronavirus – Fri Jun 5, 2020
Coronavirus – Fri Jun 5, 2020. Picture: PA

With more than 878,000 deaths, the United States has the largest Covid-19 toll of any nation.

The Omicron coronavirus variant is driving the daily American death toll higher than during last autumn’s Delta wave, with deaths likely to keep rising for days or even weeks.

The seven-day rolling average for daily new Covid-19 deaths in the US has been climbing since mid-November, reaching 2,267 on Thursday and surpassing a September peak of 2,100 when Delta was the dominant variant.

Now Omicron is estimated to account for nearly all the virus circulating in the nation. And even though it causes less severe disease for most people, the fact that it is more transmissible means more people are falling ill and dying.

“Omicron will push us over a million deaths,” said Andrew Noymer, a public health professor at the University of California, Irvine.

“That will cause a lot of soul searching. There will be a lot of discussion about what we could have done differently, how many of the deaths were preventable.”

Omicron symptoms are often milder, and some infected people show no symptoms, researchers agree. But like the flu, it can be deadly, especially for people who are older, have other health problems or who are unvaccinated.

“Importantly, ‘milder’ does not mean ‘mild’,” Centres for Disease Control and Prevention director Dr Rochelle Walensky said this week during a White House briefing.

At one hospital in Kansas, 50 Covid-19 patients have died this month and more than 200 are being treated. University of Kansas Hospital in Kansas City, Kansas, posted a video from its morgue showing bagged bodies in a refrigeration unit and a worker marking one white body bag with the word “Covid”.

“This is real,” said Ciara Wright, the hospital’s decedent affairs coordinator. “Our concerns are, ‘Are the funeral homes going to come fast enough?’ We do have access to a refrigerated truck. We don’t want to use it if we don’t have to.”

Dr Katie Dennis, a pathologist who does autopsies for the health system, said the morgue has been at or above capacity almost every day in January, “which is definitely unusual”.

With more than 878,000 deaths, the United States has the largest Covid-19 toll of any nation.

During the coming week, almost every US state will see a faster increase in deaths, although deaths have peaked in a few states, including New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Iowa, Maryland, Alaska and Georgia, according to the Covid-19 Forecast Hub.

New hospital admissions have started to fall for all age groups, according to CDC data, and a drop in deaths is expected to follow.

“In a pre-pandemic world, during some flu seasons, we see 10,000 or 15,000 deaths. We see that in the course of a week sometimes with Covid,” said Nicholas Reich, who aggregates coronavirus projections for the hub in collaboration with the CDC.

By Press Association

Latest World News

See more Latest World News

In this photo taken from video released by the Russian defence ministry, Ukrainian servicemen line up to be checked as they leave the besieged Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol

Russia’s claim of Mariupol’s capture fuels concern for prisoners of war

Kourtney Kardashian, left, and Travis Barker

The Kardashians take to Portofino for Kourtney-Travis wedding

Miranda Atnip sits in her car in a car park

Tennessee homeless seek refuge as public camping becomes a felony crime

Enrique Owens, a cousin of Roberta Drury, wears a T-shirt with her photograph on it before her funeral service on Saturday May 21 2022 (Lauren Petracca/AP)

Youngest of 10 Buffalo shooting victims is laid to rest

Rescue workers run for cover as earth movers dig through rubble of a collapsed tunnel in Ramban district, south of Srinagar, Indian controlled Kashmir, on Friday May 20 2022

Nine more bodies found in Kashmir tunnel collapse – taking toll to 10

Anthony Albanese

Scott Morrison’s conservative government toppled in Australia

Tornado Michigan

Second death reported after rare tornado strikes Michigan

Anthony Albanese

Australian election: Albanese set to take power as Morrison concedes defeat

Gazprom headquarters

Russia hits back at Finland by halting all gas exports

Citizens cast their votes at a polling booth in Sydney, Australia

PM Scott Morrison concedes defeat in Australian election

Anthony Albanese will be Australia’s new prime minister after Scott Morrison, inset, conceded defeat

Australia 'votes for change' as republican Anthony Albanese leads Labor to election win

President Joe Biden waves as he boards Air Force One

Biden signs £32bn Ukraine assistance Bill during Asia trip

Ukrainian ambassador to Poland Andrii Deshchytsia speaks during an interview with the Associated Press in Warsaw, Poland

Poles need EU funds as they help Ukrainians, ambassador says

Two trucks overturned after a storm in Paderborn, Germany

German storm generated three tornadoes, says weather service

US President Joe Biden listens to South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol speak during a news conference at the People’s House inside the Ministry of National Defence in Seoul

US and South Korea to consider expanded military drills amid North Korea concern

Jim Finn holds his eight-month-old daughter Allegra as he casts his vote at a polling booth in Sydney, Australia

Australians vote to determine conservative government future