As health professionals and international leaders worry, Omicron, the ‘variant of concern,’ is on its approach to becoming the dominant coronavirus strain worldwide. Omicron cases have been detected in 77 countries since its discovery three weeks ago in South Africa.

The number of people infected with the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has been steadily rising in the United States, which was the country hardest hit by the pandemic.

Also read: India reports 6,984 new COVID cases, 247 deaths in last 24 hours

After an individual travelled from South Africa to San Francisco in late November, the first case of Omicron was discovered in the United States on December 1. The traveller had been immunised.

Since then, the number of Omicron cases in the United States has gradually increased.

The highly transmissible variety has been reported in 38 states, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It now accounts for 3% of all cases recorded across the United States. 

Omicron is found in significant concentrations in some states, such as New York and New Jersey, accounting for up to 13% of total samples.

The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) positivity rate in New York has doubled in three days, according to experts, owing to the Omicron variety. “It is clear that the Omicron variant is here in New York City in full force,” stated Mayor Bill de Blasio.

Delta, on the other hand, remains the most common version in circulation in the United States.

Also read: US President Joe Biden predicts illness, deaths in winter are due to omicron

According to the CDC 200 million Americans have had full vaccinations, but only 56 million have received a booster dose.

Amid the unabated spread of the Omicron variety, US President Joe Biden warned on Thursday that unvaccinated Americans could face a winter of “severe illness and death.”

After meeting with members of his COVID-19 response team, Biden said, “…I want to send a direct message to the American people: Due to the steps we’ve taken, Omicron has not yet spread as fast as it would’ve otherwise done and as is happening in Europe. But it’s here now, and it’s spreading, and it’s going to increase.”

Biden empathised with the necessity for booster shots to protect against the virus when a new variety spreads.

More than 98 million people in the Americas have contracted COVID-19 since the epidemic began, and more than 2.3 million have died as a result of the disease.

The region has seen more than a third of all cases reported worldwide, as well as one out of every four deaths.

On Tuesday, the death toll from COVID-19 in the United States surpassed 800,000 in the United States.