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A ‘tsunami’ of omicron variant COVID-19 cases are coming, WHO warns

The omicron variant continues to spread across the United States

Travelers walk through at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago, Illinois.
Travelers walk through Terminal 3 at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago, Ill., Tuesday, Dec. 28, 2021. The World Health Organization warned Wednesday that the world will soon see a “tsunami of cases” of COVID-19 throughout the winter.
Nam Y. Huh, Associated Press

The World Health Organization warned Wednesday that the world will soon see a “tsunami of cases” of COVID-19 which will stretch throughout the winter.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO’s director-general, said the highly transmissible omicron variant and the fast-spreading delta variant will lead to the surge of cases, per The Financial Times.

  • “This is and will continue to put immense pressure on exhausted health workers and health systems on the brink of collapse and again disrupting lives and livelihoods,” Tedros said.

The WHO director-general warned that the omicron variant can be really dangerous because of hospitalizations. Early research has found the omicron variant has led to less severe COVID-19 symptoms and hospitalizations among the fully vaccinated, as I wrote for the Deseret News. But that doesn’t mean hospitalizations and deaths will stop overall.

  • “There is this narrative going on which is ‘it’s milder or less severe,’” Tedros said. “But we’re undermining the other side, at the same time it could be dangerous, because the high transmissibility could increase hospitalizations and deaths.”

Per The Economist, the omicron variant has such high transmissibility that it could lead to more hospitalizations and deaths, which could destroy the hospital system.

  • “Once someone is so sick as to require hospital treatment, doctors may have fewer options available for omicron than for its antecedents,” according to The Economist. “Previous strains could often be treated with drugs called monoclonal antibodies. Omicron seems oblivious to most of these, and supplies of those that do affect it, newly developed versions ... are limited.”