An average of over 500,000 new COVID-19 cases in the U.S. are reported every day, The New York Times reported on Jan. 5. The surge is primarily fueled by the omicron variant of the COVID-19 virus. How many vaccinated people have died from the omicron variant?
To date, there haven't been any reports of vaccinated Americans who have died from the omicron variant.
The first U.S. omicron death was an unvaccinated man.
The first omicron death in the U.S. was reported in December. The Texas man who died from omicron wasn't vaccinated against COVID-19 and had previously been infected with the virus. He was between the age of 50 and 60 and had underlying health conditions, said Harris County (TX) Public Health in a statement.
“This is a reminder of the severity of COVID-19 and its variants. We urge all residents who qualify to get vaccinated and get their booster shot if they have not already,” HCPH Executive Director Barbie Robinson said in the statement.
In the United Kingdom, seven people have died from the omicron variant, reports the UK Health Security Agency. There isn't any information about whether or not the people who died were vaccinated.
Omicron is now the dominant strain of COVID-19 in the U.S.
First identified in South Africa in November 2021, the omicron variant has quickly become the most dominant strain of the COVID-19 virus in the U.S., accounting for 73 percent of all new cases. The variant is reportedly more contagious, yet less severe, than other variants.
Early studies suggest that the omicron variant is less likely to cause severe illness, especially in vaccinated people, The New York Times reports. When tested on mice and hamsters, those infected with the omicron variant had less lung damage and were less likely to die, a study by American and Japanese scientists found.
Vaccinated people can still get the omicron variant.
Getting a COVID-19 vaccine won’t completely block you from getting omicron or a different variant of the virus. In early December, when omicron cases started to spread in the U.S., most of the cases were in people who were fully vaccinated, some of which had even received a third booster shot, Reuters reports.
“There is now consistent evidence that Omicron is spreading significantly faster than the Delta variant. And it is more likely people vaccinated or recovered from COVID-19 could be infected or re-infected,” said World Health Organization (WHO) director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, according to Reuters.
Vaccines help protect against severe illness, hospitalizations, and deaths in breakthrough infections of COVID-19, according to the CDC.
Will the omicron variant lead to natural herd immunity?
Many people are questioning whether the spread of the omicron variant might lead to a natural immunity from the COVID-19 virus. However, scientists warn against the notion that omicron offers immunity from COVID.
“Compared to vaccination, natural infection cannot protect the population against any variant,” Giridhara R Babu, professor and the Head of Lifecourse Epidemiology at the Public Health Foundation of India, told India’s Deccan Herald. “Proponents of herd immunity are saying it again that Omicron would provide herd immunity. Evidence matters, not opinions.”