CHICAGO (NewsNation Now) — This week, the United States reported nearly 1 million new coronavirus infections on Monday, a single-day record for any country in the world, as the spread of the omicron variant continues.
Experts say omicron appears to be far more easily transmitted than previous strains of the virus. The new variant was estimated to account for 95.4% of cases identified in the United States as of Jan. 1, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday.
“Omicron is much more contagious than the delta variant was before. It is asymptomatic in many people, and while that’s true for the majority of the population, there are still plenty of people who are going to get the severe disease,” Dr. Kristin Englund with the Cleveland Clinic said on “Morning in America.”
On Tuesday, President Joe Biden said the latest variant “is a cause for concern, not a cause for panic.” He also doubled the government’s order for Pfizer Inc’s COVID-19 antiviral pill. The White House expects at least four million treatment pills will be available by the end of January and 10 million by June, the administration said.
“If you’re having mild symptoms, that is unlikely something that you’re going to want to be using these medications for,” Englund said. “There are very few doses in the country right now and it takes time to produce these medications so you are not likely to go to your retail store right now and be able to find this.”
She says doses of the medication should be allocated first to people who are “most likely to be hospitalized and are at highest risk of dying from the disease right now.”
Recently, the CDC shorted isolation time from 10 days to five, a move that has been highly criticized. Englund called the latest guidance “reasonable.”
CDC officials said the changes were in keeping with evidence that people with the coronavirus are most infectious in the two days before and three days after symptoms develop.