Omicron isn’t overtaking Delta as quickly as the CDC thought—and that’s bad news

COVID-19 case rates in the US are swelling, and the highly infectious Omicron variant is raising alarms around the world. But the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) now says that the number of infections caused by Omicron in the US were highly overestimated.

The CDC previously reported that the Omicron variant was responsible for about 73 percent of new COVID-19 infections between December 12 and 18.. However new data released by the CDC on Tuesday show a revised estimate for that week of just 23 percent, a 50 point drop. In the most recent week of data, December 19 through 25, the CDC estimates that Omicron made up about 59 percent of infections—almost all other cases were caused by Delta.

While Omicron is clearly a variant of concern, these data show that its rate of infection was not as high as health officials initially believed. The Delta variant, which tends to cause more severe illness compared to earlier strains, is clearly still a large driving force in the continuation of the coronavirus pandemic.

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