Close to two years from the beginning of the initial COVID-19 shutdown back in March 2020, Omicron was declared another major variant of this disease, striking more fear and contagion as the virus began to spread once again.
Omicron, deemed as the more contagious variant than the previous Delta variant, is being centered mainly on the eastern coast of the U.S. The most targeted audience currently are college students on the eastern coast of the U.S.. Data shows this could possibly be from the constant social interactions and also travel implications as students fly back home from the east.
Additionally, to add onto more arising fears, the current winter season of 2021 has been flooded with COVID-19, the common cold, and the yearly flu. For patients and doctors, people are struggling to quickly identifying which of the three one is diagnosed with. The misinformation and the lack of resources for such information has been adding to the panic and sickness in the United States.
“The symptoms are now like a Venn diagram where all the circles are overlapping,” said Emily Landon, the chief infectious-disease epidemiologist at University of Chicago Medicine.
“The problem with grids like that is that people look at them and kind of see what they want to see. It’s like looking at your horoscope and saying ‘that does apply to me,’” said Landon. “Symptom grids and graphics can easily lead people to erroneous conclusions, like believing their symptoms only fit the category of a regular cold, not the coronavirus. It’s confirmation bias.”
In the face of rising numbers of cases, pediatric clinics have been particularly full with children with COVID infections, partially due to lower vaccination rates. Recent data shows that the most dominant strain, Omicron, has been adding nearly 800 cases everyday just for children. There were 1,987 covid-19 patients hospitalized in the U.S. which is a 31 percent increase. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, nearly 7.4 million children and adolescents have been infected with COVID-19, with 170,000 in this week itself.
With new research being conducted on this new strain, researchers and experts are warning people to wear their masks, claiming tit to be more important than ever especially in a winter season. Additionally, the U.S. is quickly distributing the extra booster shots for people of ages 16 and up, post 6-month vaccination.