US facing simultaneous waves of "tridemic": media

2021-December-24 17:59 By:

The Washington National Cathedral tolled its bell 800 times last week in memory of the at least 800,000 U.S. lives lost from the virus. While the heartbreaking bells serve as stark reminders of where Americans have been, the current view of where the people are going is "unclear and potentially alarming", said an opinion piece by The Mercury News, a U.S. media outlet.

Simultaneous waves of Delta, Omicron and influenza might make this winter more bitter for American people to navigate. The "tridemic" could "easily exceed the capacity of our healthcare system and cause untold misery and deaths", the op-ed said.

More Transmissible Variant Dominating America

"Omicron is spreading at a rate we have not seen with any previous variant," said Dr. Tedros, director-general of the World Health Organization.

The latest COVID-19 variant, first identified in South Africa this November, has been detected in 89 countries, as the WHO announced last Saturday. In the United States, almost every state has reported illness from the highly contagious Omicron.

According to U.S. federal health officials, Omicron had become the dominant version of the coronavirus in the United States by last week, accounting for 73% of new infections.

In some parts of the country, Omicron cases take more share than the nationwide figure of 73%. The CDC estimates more than 90% of the cases in portions of the Northwest, South, Southeast and Northeast might be caused by Omicron.

New Omicron Surge Superimposed on Old Delta Wave

University of Texas modelers were cited as showing that the Omicron surge will peak in early February with almost twice as many hospitalizations as a year ago, which demonstrates the unexpected severity of the new variant.

What's worse, the U.S. is expecting a double surge of COVID cases due to the simultaneous spreading of Omicron and Delta mutation.

"Omicron and delta are sufficiently different that they may not compete," said a computational virologist in Seattle quoted by The Mercury News.

According to the article, while the pattern has been that new variants replace old ones, that may not be the case with the increasing omicron cases and ongoing delta infections.

"Tridemic" or "Quaddemic" as Flu Season Comes

Recent major outbreaks of influenza on college campuses are nothing to ignore, especially at a time when the nation is struggling with lingering COVID pandemic, said the article.

"Flu has a more severe impact on mortality in children compared to COVID," it said.

"I'm going to talk about a tridemic or a quaddemic," said Dr. Gregory Poland, a vaccinologist at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, "We already have cases of influenza in Minnesota. We've already seen evidence of an RSV epidemic. The pandemic, at least right now, isn't going anywhere."

Concerns were raised in the article that the alarming combination could overwhelm the U.S. healthcare capacity with limited devices and fatigued staff. Exhaustion also causes high levels of burnout and resignation among U.S. healthcare workers, leaving the American healthcare system more vulnerable to new COVID waves.

The United States has about 4% of the world's population with 15% of the world's deaths, said the article. "It's tragic that we have not performed better," it said, "with a new year right around the corner, it's a perfect time to do what is necessary to tamp down this impending 'tridemic'."

Editor: WXL
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