According to a U.S. nationwide blood survey released on Tuesday, 58 percent of the U.S. population overall and more than 75 percent of younger children have been infected with the coronavirus since the start of the pandemic, following the record surge in Covid-19 cases during the Omicron-driven wave.
The report, published by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is the first to show that more than half of the US population has been infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus at least once, and it provides a detailed picture of the Omicron surge’s impact in the US.
According to the new statistics, Omicron increased infection rates in all age groups, but children and adolescents, many of whom are still unvaccinated, had the highest rates of infection, while people 65 and older, who are fully vaccinated, had the lowest.
During the Omicron outbreak in the United States in December and February, 75.2 percent of children aged 11 and younger had infection-related antibodies in their blood, up from 44.2 percent in the previous three months. Antibodies were found in 74.2 percent of individuals aged 12 to 17, up from 45.6 percent in September and December.
The researchers were looking for particular antibodies produced in response to the SARS-CoV-2 virus that are only present after infection and are not produced by COVID-19 vaccinations. These antibodies can stay in the blood for up to two years in trace concentrations.
“Having infection-induced antibodies does not indicate you are immune to future infections,” stated Kristie Clarke, co-author of the study, during a press conference. “We didn’t investigate to see if patients had enough antibodies to protect them against reinfection or severe disease.”
CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky told reporters at the conference that 19 infections are on the rise, increasing 22.7 percent in the last week to 44,000 per day. Hospitalizations increased for the second week in a succession, rising 6.6 percent, mostly due to Omicron subvariants.
Despite a 13.2 percent drop in deaths week over week, the US is rapidly reaching the dismal milestone of 1 million overall Covid-related deaths.
According to Walensky, the BA.1 type that generated the Omicron wave today accounts for only 3% of all transmission in the United States. She claims that a subvariant of Omicron termed BA.2.121, which was initially detected in upstate New York, now accounts for roughly 30% of U.S. cases and looks to be 25% more transmissible than the highly contagious BA.2 subvariant.
The CDC now advises people to wear a mask in public indoor settings in specific counties with high Covid-19 community spread. Hospitalizations have been increasing in upstate New York and the Northeast region, according to the report.
The CDC, according to Walensky, continues to recommend masks in all indoor public transit situations, and vaccination remains the safest option for reducing Covid-19 consequences.
According to federal data, more than 66 percent of the US population is completely vaccinated against Covid-19, with nearly 46 percent receiving a booster.