Virus expert warns that 32,000 Americans who think they’ll see Christmas and New Year will die of Covid before then

‘Everybody’s comforting themselves with the idea that omicron is less severe’

Harriet Sinclair
Saturday 11 December 2021 18:25
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<p>Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree</p>

Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree

A virus expert has warned that 32,000 people expecting to celebrate Christmas and New year will have died of coronavirus before then.

Dr Gregory Poland’s comments come as sequencing shows the new omicron variant of Covid-19 is already in half of all US states.

The epidemiologist for Mayo Clinics, who is among the top immunologists in the county, suggested that according to his calculations, more than 30,000 people in the US would die of coronavirus before the end of the year.

“32,000 Americans who think they’re going to be alive to celebrate Christmas and New Years are, no pun intended, dead wrong,” Mr Poland told MailOnline. “Not one of them believes [it].”

“Everybody’s comforting themselves with the idea that omicron is less severe. It may well be but that is very, very, preliminary information that comes from one specific area of the world where Delta has not been as deadly as it has here.

“It fascinates me that a tiny little preliminary report like that makes its way around the world. Everybody fixes on that belief. And yet, look at the last year of work trying to get people immunised and they ignore it,” he added.

Omicron was first detected in Botswana on 11 November, and identified in South Africa on 14 November. The first US case was recorded on 1 December in the US. There have now been confirmed cases in 25 states.

Around a third of positive cases of omicron were in people who had been abroad, three quarters of these had been vaccinated. The delta variant makes up more than 99 per cent of coronavirus cases in the US.

Scientists have suggested it may take months for a full understanding of the threat posed by omicron, but the chief of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said that at the moment, omicron cases analysed in the US have been mild.

Common symptoms include fatigue, coughing and congestion. One person so far has been hospitalised after testing positive for the omicron variant.

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