Unvaccinated Texas man first in US to die of Omicron variant

Omicron is now the dominant variant in the US, CDC officials say

Maroosha Muzaffar
Tuesday 21 December 2021 16:32 GMT
First Omicron Death in U.S. Was an Unvaccinated Man Previously Infected with COVID
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An unvaccinated man from Texas died after contracting Omicron, becoming the first person to die from the Covid-19 variant in the US.

The Harris County health department in Texas said that the man, believed to be in his 50s, was not vaccinated and had an underlying health condition.

Harris County judge Lina Hidalgo announced on Monday: “My phone was ringing, I’m sure you guys noticed, and it was our public health director telling me we just had our first Omicron-related death.”

The unidentified man lived in Precinct 2 of Harris County, the officials said.

Ms Hidalgo said: “I know, for folks in Harris County, this feels like whiplash. It follows a downward trend in hospitalisations and cases, only to see things trend back up, and it is so frustrating.”

Health authorities said on Monday that Omicron is now the dominant variant in the United States even as the World Health Organisation (WHO) called for greater efforts to ensure the pandemic ends soon.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki, however, said that President Joe Biden does not intend to lock the country down.

Dr Jim Versalovic from the Texas Children’s Hospital was quoted as saying by KHOU11 that there is an “upward trajectory that is steeper than anything we’ve seen previously during this pandemic.”

“Omicron is spreading incredibly quickly.  First, we know that an increasing number of cases in Harris County are related to Omicron. It’s more transmissible. The amount of time it takes for the number of Omicron cases to double has been very worrisome,” Ms Hidalgo said.

She said that the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data had revealed that the Omicron variant doubles in two to three days. “Just to give a point of comparison, the Delta variant doubles every eleven days,” she added.

CDC said that the Omicron variant accounted for 73.2 per cent of new Covid-19 cases in the country over the past week.

Ms Hidalgo maintained that those vaccinated and boosted are much less likely to end up in the hospital.

The Harris County had, earlier in the day, raised the Covid-19 alert back to orange, advising locals to “minimise all contacts unless vaccinated.”

Earlier this month, the UK also recorded its first death due to the Omicron variant of Covid-19. London has also cancelled its New Year’s Eve event scheduled to be held at the Trafalgar Square over Covid-19 concerns, Mayor of London Sadiq Khan tweeted on Monday.

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