U.S. CDC chief Walensky says omicron mostly mild so far

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More than 40 people in the U.S. have been found to be infected with the omicron variant so far, and more than three-quarters of them had been vaccinated, the chief of the CDC said Wednesday. But she said nearly all of them were only mildly ill.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said the data is very limited and the agency is working on a more detailed analysis of what the new mutant form of the coronavirus might hold for the U.S.

“What we generally know is the more mutations a variant has, the higher level you need your immunity to be. … We want to make sure we bolster everybody’s immunity. And that’s really what motivated the decision to expand our guidance,” Walensky said, referencing the recent approval of boosters for all adults.

She said “the disease is mild” in almost all of the cases seen so far, with reported symptoms mainly cough, congestion and fatigue. One person was hospitalized, but no deaths have been reported, CDC officials said.

Some cases can become increasingly severe as days and weeks pass, and Walensky noted that the data is a very early, first glimpse of U.S. omicron infections. The earliest onset of symptoms of any of the first 40 or so cases was Nov. 15, according to the CDC.

The omicron variant was first identified in South Africa last month and has since been reported in 57 countries, according to the World Health Organization.

The first U.S. case was reported on Dec. 1. As of Wednesday afternoon, the CDC had recorded 43 cases in 19 states. Most were young adults. About a third of those patients had traveled internationally.

Read more via AP

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