73 Percent of Americans Estimated to be Immune to the Omicron Variant, Model Shows
© AP Photo / Czarek SokolowskiMedics care for COVID-19 patients connected to ventilators at the hospital of the Ministry of Interior and Administration in Warsaw, Poland, on Wednesday, Jan. 19, 2022
© AP Photo / Czarek Sokolowski
According to a model calculated by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), 73% of Americans are currently immune to the omicron variant of COVID-19, which first hit the States in November. The IHME also predicts that the immunity rate could reach 80% by mid-March.
“We have been exposed to this virus and we know how to deal with it," said Dr. Ali Mokdad, who is a professor at the IHME. “I am optimistic even if we have a surge in summer, cases will go up, but hospitalizations and deaths will not,” he added.
At least 80 million Americans have been infected by COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic, with 913,000 Americans having died from the highly infectious disease. The U.S. is still averaging around 113,000 new cases a day, according to The New York Times’ data.
The news of potential immunity may come as a relief to many hospital workers, who have been overwhelmed in intensive care units (ICU) across hospitals nationwide. By February 4, at least 14 states had more than one-third of their ICU beds filled with COVID-19 patients.
But compared to where hospitals were four weeks ago: things have been getting better. A majority of states are considered to have ‘moderate’ stress levels for their hospitals, which according to the IHME, means between 10% and 30% of ICU beds are used for COVID-19 patients.
Only two states are considered to be in the ‘low stress’ category, and those are New Jersey (8% of beds) and Connecticut (6% of beds). Three states are considered to be in the ‘high stress’ category: Idaho has 37% of ICU beds occupied by COVID-19 patients, while Arkansas has 31% of beds occupied, and West Virginia has 30%.
COVID patients in the ICU are typically people who haven’t received their vaccination for the disease.
Dr. Andrew Schlachter from Saint Luke’s in Kansas City said, “It is utterly tragic that we’re seeing families broken. We’re seeing wives widowed. We’re seeing babies who are losing their mothers at the exact time of their birth. We’re having families wrought with distress who aren’t nearby and not able to come to the bedside. We’re hearing pleas, we’re hearing begs… asking for any therapy that’s possible,” he told The Star in January 2022.
“And in truth, we do everything we can, we try our absolute hardest. But the best thing that we can offer is going back in time and wishing those patients had been vaccinated,” he added.
Patients who are suffering severely from COVID infections and require life support equipment have to stay longer in the ICU than others, and end up staying for weeks and maybe months, says Dr. Schlachter.