Has the Omicron Wave Already Peaked?

A stuffed dummy with a head depicting the Omicron COVID-19 variant along other dummies outside a store as part of the traditional “Burn of the old year” in which the dummies are hung and burn to welcome the new year, in Managua, Nicaragua, December 31, 2021. (Maynor Valenzuela/Reuters)

The U.K., which was a couple of weeks ahead of us on the Omicron outbreak, is seeing a sharp decrease in cases, which peaked at 219,000 on January 4 and have already fallen to 130,000.

Closer to home, Massachusetts and New York (two of the hardest-hit states) have seen slight declines in their 14-day moving average this week. Last Monday was a record-high day in the U.S. for infections with 1.43 million, but Mondays are outliers because data from the weekend tend to get lumped together and delivered on Monday. (And next Monday is a holiday, so we may get a big bump on Tuesday.) The January 12 daily report came in at 852,000, so at least infections are no longer rocketing upwards.

From what we’ve seen in South Africa, where Omicron first broke out, infections could start to plummet soon. South Africa’s peak was December 15 and infections are down two-thirds since then. Infections are about where they were in early September in South Africa, so the emergency period appears to be over, at least for this wave.

Of course, hospitalizations and deaths lag infections, so in the U.S. we can expect to see very high rates of these for the next two or three weeks, at least. We’ll probably hit 1 million Covid deaths before Memorial Day.

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