The United States is currently averaging 1,716 deaths per day from Covid, and Dr Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), blames the Delta variant – not Omicron – for causing them.
Walensky said at a news conference Wednesday that the slight increase in deaths over the past two weeks – up 10 percent – are attributable to the little circulation left of the Delta variant, not Omicron.
According to most recent data released by the CDC, the Omicron variant makes up around 98 percent of sequenced cases, with Delta making up just under two percent.
As a result of the highly infectious variant taking over, cases in the U.S. have rocketed in recent weeks. In two weeks, new daily cases have increased from around 235,269 per day to 750,515 per day – a 184 percent jump.
Deaths have not followed though, mainly due to the mild nature of the Omicron variant when compared to other strains. The small growth in deaths that has occurred could be entirely separate from the recent surge being experienced nationwide.
The agency released data on Wednesday showing the variant is 50 percent less likely to cause hospitalization in people it infects, and a whopping 91 percent less likely to cause death.
Dr Rochelle Walensky (pictured), director of the CDC, says that recent upticks in Covid deaths being suffered in the U.S. are attributable to the Delta variant, not Omicron. Over 1,700 Americans are dying from Covid every day, a 10% increase from two weeks ago
According to CDC data, the Omicron variant (purple) accounts for 98% of cases in the U.S., and is largely responsible for cases nearly tripling over the past two weeks. The Delta variant (orange), which dominated much of the latter half of 2021, only makes up around 2% of cases
‘We may see deaths from Omicron but I suspect that the deaths that we’re seeing now are still from Delta,’ Walensky said.
She noted that investigations into the number of Covid deaths being caused by Delta versus the Omicron variant may take some time.
The Delta variant was the dominant strain in the U.S. for much of the latter half of 2021.
Originally discovered in India last spring, the variant arrived in the U.S. over summer, and caused massive case surges nationwide starting in mid to late summer.
It became the dominant strain in July, and remained so until the Omicron variant took the nation by storm in December.
The summer Delta surge peaked at around 200,000 cases per day in September, less than a third of the current daily case rate in America.
Nearly twice as many Americans were dying from Covid over summer every day than are during the current winter surge, showing just how much more deadly Delta is when compared to Omicron.
Hospitalizations in the U.S. are rising as well, with a record 140,641 Americans in the hospital with Covid on an average day this week.
Walensky did not comment on whether this surge could also be attributed to the lingering Delta variant.
Some believe that number is heavily inflated, as many people who are going to the hospital for treatment of other conditions are being tested while there and generating positive cases.