The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has severely reduced its estimate of how many Omicron cases were diagnosed in the U.S. during Christmas week, down to 58.6 % from 73% of all cases.
The CDC also drastically lowered its estimate for the week before Christmas, saying that the Omicron variant accounted for just 22.5% of all cases. The agency had again estimated the number was 73%.
The new estimates mean the Delta variant may still be going strong in the U.S.
“Setting aside the question of how the initial estimate was so inaccurate, if CDC’s new estimate of #Omicron prevalence is precise then it suggests that a good portion of the current hospitalizations we’re seeing from Covid may still be driven by Delta infections,” former FDA chief Scott Gottlieb wrote on Twitter.
But Jasmine Reed, a spokesman for the CDC, said the revision was partly due to the “speed at which Omicron was increasing.”
“CDC’s models have a range, and… we’re still seeing steady increase in the proportion of Omicron,” Reed told Fox News Digital. “In some regions in the country, Omicron accounts for ~ 90% or more of cases.”
The revisions come as the U.S. recorded its highest single-day total of new COVID-19 cases — 441,278 infections, according to Politico.
But Reed said those numbers may be revised, too, noting the daily case total is likely an “overestimate” due to lagging state reporting.
Meanwhile, a new report says rapid COVID-19 tests may be less effective at detecting the Omicron variant than earlier strains of the virus, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said Tuesday.
“The finding was gleaned from preliminary studies conducted by the FDA in collaboration with the National Institutes of Health’s RADx program on the performance of the at-home tests on the heavily mutated Omicron variant, the New York Post reported.
“Early data suggests that antigen tests do detect the omicron variant but may have reduced sensitivity” at detecting positive cases, the FDA said in a Tuesday statement. “The FDA and RADx are continuing to further evaluate the performance of antigen tests using patient samples with live virus.”
But the FDA didn’t urge people should avoid using antigen tests.
“The FDA continues to authorize the use of these tests as directed in the authorized labeling and individuals should continue to use them in accordance with the instructions included with the tests,” the agency said. “Antigen tests are generally less sensitive and less likely to pick up very early infections compared to molecular tests.”
The FDA did urge follow-up testing for those who test negative with a rapid antigen test but are experiencing symptoms. “If a person tests positive with an antigen test, they should self-isolate and seek follow-up care with a health care provider to determine the next steps,” the FDA said.
Joseph Curl has covered politics for 35 years, including 12 years as White House correspondent, and ran the Drudge Report from 2010 to 2015. Send tips to [email protected]