Share this

The COVID-19 ‘stealth’ variant is now the dominant strain in the United States, making up 55 percent of cases, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports. Despite the highly infectious nature of the variant, which is a lineage of the Omicron variant, case and death total in America remain near pandemic lows.

The agency revealed data Tuesday as part of its weekly Nowcast surveillance. The Omicron variant as a whole still remains the dominant strain in the U.S., but BA.2 has overtaken the BA.1 lineage that caused massive worldwide virus surges around the new year.

The ‘stealth’ variant, which earned the moniker from its ability to avoid detection through some sequencing methods, is believed to be the most infectious version of Covid yet – but is just as mild as BA.1.

BA.2’s share of Covid infections in America is growing with the variant only accounting for 35 percent of cases in last week’s report. In the prior weeks it made up less than one out of every four cases. 

The U.S. also reached another grim pandemic milestone on Tuesday, as Johns Hopkins reports that America has suffered 80 million total Covid cases since the pandemic began just over two years ago.

FDA approves fourth shot of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines for over 50s

The FDA has authorized fourth doses of the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines for all Americans 50 and older, the companies announced

Immunocompromised Americans 12 and older will be eligible for the fourth shot as well, under the new authorization

The FDA chose not to let an outside panel of experts discuss the shot’s approval this time, and not all experts agree that a fourth dose is needed

Immunocompromised adults over the age of 12 can also now receive an additional Pfizer dose, and those 18 and older are eligible for Moderna’s fourth shot. The second booster is to be distributed four months after the first.

Americans 12 and older with particularly weak immune systems because of a serious condition are now eligible for a fifth shot, four months after the previous, the agency also decided.




The variant’s rise has not caused the jump in Covid cases in the U.S. that occurred in many European countries, though.

Case numbers in the U.S. have stabilized after sharply increasing, then decreasing, to start 2022. America is currently averaging 31,222 cases per day, staying flat from last week. Current case figures are at one of the lowest points since the pandemic first began in March 2020.

Deaths are plummeting, down nearly 30 percent over the past week to 776 per day. Tuesday marks the first day daily deaths have dropped below 800 per day since the Omicron variant landed in America in early-December. This is also the lowest daily death figures have reached since August.

Amid falling figures, the U.S. is making two major moves this weekend that further signal the country’s attempt to move of from the pandemic.

On Tuesday, the final military deployments to hospitals around the country to assist with surges of Covid patients will come to an end, as declining cases, a high vaccination rate and the more mild nature of the Omicron variant leaves little risk of health care facilities suffering another overwhelming sure of patients.

In total, around 5,000 troops have been deployed to 49 states since the pandemic started, and barring a major shift, there will not be any more sent out.

Reimbursement for uninsured COVID-19 patients that receive hospital treatment is set to come to an end as well, as the White House has failed to secure funding for the initiative as many Republican federal lawmakers push past the pandemic.

While some are worried about the latter, and that it could hurt America’s ability to test for and treat Covid patients, both moves signal a large push at the federal level to return to ‘normal’.

[embedded content]
Throughout the pandemic, around 5,000 troops have been deployed to assist struggling hospitals. That initiative will end on Tuesday - barring another surge of the virus - when the last of the deployments come to an end. Pictured: A soldier assists a Covid testing site in Brooklyn, New York

Throughout the pandemic, around 5,000 troops have been deployed to assist struggling hospitals. That initiative will end on Tuesday - barring another surge of the virus - when the last of the deployments come to an end. Pictured: A soldier assists a Covid testing site in Brooklyn, New York

Throughout the pandemic, around 5,000 troops have been deployed to assist struggling hospitals. That initiative will end on Tuesday – barring another surge of the virus – when the last of the deployments come to an end. Pictured: A soldier assists a Covid testing site in Brooklyn, New York

The last remaining federal regulations related to the pandemic could be on the way out as well. Despite falling case figures, the CDC still requires Americans to wear masks on public forms of transportation like planes and trains.

Dr Scott Gottlieb, former director of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and current board member at Pfizer, told CNBC’s Squawk Box on Monday that he expects the agency to let the mask mandates lapse next month.

‘If we’re not in thick of another wave of BA.2 infection in the middle of April, I think they will go ahead and lift that,’ Gottlieb said.

‘I think the uncertainty around that is we are starting to see infections start to creep up. If it kind of levels off in the next couple of weeks, which it may, I think the administration will go ahead and lift that.’

Fears of the new variant, which caused case increases across Europe earlier this month before quickly receding again, has spurred health officials to approve another jab of the COVID-19 vaccine.

On Tuesday, Pfizer and BioNTech announced that the fourth dose of its COVID-19 vaccine had been authorized by regulators for all Americans 50 and older, and for the immunocompromised aged 12 and up. Moderna’s shot also received authorization.

Not all experts believe the shot is necessary.

Dr Anna Durbin is an international public health expert at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, and has been a critic of Pfizer, Moderna and the White House’s insistence to roll out COVID-19 booster shots before they are needed. Last week, she told ABC that she does not believe many Americans will benefit from additional shots.

‘There are very few, if any, people who, in my opinion require a fourth dose,’ she said.

In August, when the White House was laying out plans to roll out the first batch COVID-19 booster shots, Durbin was also a critic, telling that there was little science backing up the decision. 

Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel said last week that he expects the U.S. to suffer a BA.2-fueled surge sometime soon, though, and that his company’s vaccine will be needed to control it.

‘Already several countries around the world have some of the 4th dose testing in people at high risk,’ Bancel told CNBC’s Squawk Box

‘There’s a big wave of BA.2 variant in Europe right now, as many public health experts have said this should start in the U.S. very soon.’ 

A growing list of experts are saying the exact opposite, though.

‘I would not be surprised at all, if we do see somewhat of an uptick,’ Dr Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert and someone who has frequently been among the more cautious voices during the pandemic, said at a Washington Post event this week.

‘I don’t really see, unless something changes dramatically, that there would be a major surge.’

While the stealth variant has failed to make a major impact yet on case numbers, data from overseas – referenced by Bancel – is cause for some concern.

Some countries that had experienced declining cases for months, like the UK, France and Denmark, suddenly saw infection rates start to surge last week. Cases seem to have stabilized in these nations and the growth has stopped for now, though.

Internationally, the World Health Organization reports that there were over 12 million Covid cases globally last week, a seven percent jump from the previous week. An updated report from the agency is expected on Tuesday afternoon.

Source: DailyMail

Share this
You May Also Like

5 Resistance Band Exercises To Get Stronger as You Get Older

Taking the necessary steps to stay strong and in solid shape as…

The No-Gym Workout for Six-Pack Abs

Baby, it’s cold outside, which means you really don’t want to face…

The Green Mediterranean Diet Can Help Reduce Even More Visceral Fat, Study Says

You may find yourself intrigued by the fact that the Mediterranean diet…

The Baguette Was Just Declared an Important Cultural Legacy by UNESCO

If there’s one food that’s emblematic of France, it’s the baguette. Made…

I Tried the Viral Tinned Fish Board From TikTok—Here's Why It Got My Friends Talking

The product recommendations in this post are recommendations by the writer and/or…

NHS shut down more services during Covid than almost most of Europe

The NHS shut down more services during the first year of the…

CDC director urges vaccination amid record high reports of flu, RSV

Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC),…

Shingles is Linked to 30% Higher Risk of Heart Disease. Here are the Symptoms.

A new study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association…

7 Brain-Boosting Breakfast Foods To Eat for a Focused Day

There are so many foods that contain nutrients known to benefit the…

Patients could feel pinch as health plans seek to offload pricey prescription costs

Anna Sutton was shocked when she received a letter from her husband’s…

NHS could shutdown on December 20: Unions plot to co-ordinate devastating pre-Christmas strikes

Striking unions are plotting to bring the struggling NHS to a standstill…

Ashton Kutcher describes his struggles with vasculitis: “Suddenly, you can’t see”

Ashton Kutcher may be known as a lovable goofball in series like…