“We know that increased vaccination and infection boost our defenses against Covid,” Thomas Frieden, former head of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, wrote on Twitter on Monday. “I am more optimistic about our ability to tame the pandemic than at any time since its inception.”
“Unless, of course, a worse variant emerges, with the infectiousness of Omicron and as deadly as Delta,” he added.
In the United States, Omicron cases appear to have occurred in the Northeast, parts of the Upper Midwest and other areas where it first arrived, while nationally, new cases and hospitalizations have leveled off in recent days.
Still, hospitals in other parts of the country remain overstretched and scramble to treat patients after multiple spikes and staff shortages, including in Mississippi, where nearly all of the state’s acute-care hospitals have been pushed beyond capacity. And the number of new deaths remains high.
In the United States, 37 percent of people are not fully vaccinated, compared to 25 percent in Western Europe. Three quarters of the US population has not had a booster vaccination, compared to half of Western Europeans.
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Devi Sridhar, the head of the global public health program at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, said the number and concentration of unvaccinated people in parts of the United States puts the country in a more dangerous position than well-vaccinated parts of Europe. where the return to normalcy was underway.
“In these countries, we’re getting to what I consider to be the beginning of the end, and we have the tools to manage it,” she said. “We need to move to the next chapter of this pandemic, and from an emergency crisis to one that is more sustainable.”