If Omicron COVID cases continue to rise and many states across the country are reporting record cases, when could the variant peak?
Chicago’s top medical doctor offered her predictions based on data from around the world on Tuesday but said briefly, “We don’t know when Omicron will peak.” However, there are some signs that experts look out for.
“I’ve talked to the model builders and the epidemiologists,” said Dr. Allison Arwady, commissioner for the Chicago Department of Health, at a news conference Tuesday. “In South Africa, the first place where this huge surge of Omicron was really recognized and observed, it took about four weeks for the Omicron to peak and then a few more weeks for it to really go back down.”
However, South Africa is different from many countries currently experiencing the increase “in many ways, including high infection rates, different vaccination rates, a much younger population with an average age below 30.”
“Just a different population overall,” said Arwady. “So in the best case scenario, we would probably expect a peak in the first half of January, we say.”
Arwady said Tuesday she was 85-90% confident that Chicago would see a peak in Omicron cases in January, but only 50% confident that the peak would peak in the first half of the month.
She said the best indicator of what could happen here is by observing flight paths in Europe, the UK and even New York City.
“We are watching very closely what is happening in Europe and the UK because after seeing this surge in southern Africa the next place we actually saw an omicron surge was in the UK, in Europe, signs of a decrease these settings. It’s always a bit tricky around the holidays because the tests just pause in different ways. We’ve definitely seen signs of slowing growth that we’ve seen here in Chicago, but I will rest my mind when I start to see some of those numbers go down again. “
Arwady said if the numbers start to decline in Europe or New York in the next two weeks, she expects Chicago to follow “about a week later”.
“We’ll know in a week or so much more, I think, mostly with a view to Europe, but in the meantime you know that now is the time to really get really vaccinated and, most importantly, to protect the hospitals “, she said.
Their predictions follow similar predictions made by Dr. Anthony Fauci, the White House’s leading medical advisor, on Wednesday predicted that the recent wave in the US could peak by the end of January.
“Given the size of our country and the variety of vaccinations and non-vaccinations, I would imagine it will probably be more than a couple of weeks, probably by the end of January,” Fauci said on CNBC’s “Closing” bell. “
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot also said this week that she expects the Omicron variant “certainly to peak by mid-January, if not a little later”.
Currently, Chicago reports the highest case rate in the entire pandemic, averaging 4,591 cases per day.
While she found the increase was partly due to an increase in tests over the holidays, many of which were done at home or for children in schools, the city’s positivity rate is 23.6%, “the highest since the first wave “. the pandemic. ”
Intensive care hospital admissions have also increased, nearing levels reported in December 2020, but remain below the peak of the pandemic.
On Tuesday, the city recorded an average of 110 COVID hospital admissions per day.
“When we look at hospital stays, of course, that’s what makes me pause, that’s what I watch most closely,” said Arwady. “The fact that we are seeing these high hospital admissions numbers is what holds me the most.”
Arwady added that more than 90% of people hospitalized or in intensive care with COVID are unvaccinated.
It’s a trend across the state that broke a pandemic record for hospital stays on Monday.
Governor JB Pritzker has already asked hospitals to suspend elective and non-emergency procedures in anticipation of more COVID-19 patients and the staffing of vaccination centers.
Also starting Monday, the city of Chicago and surrounding Cook County will require proof of COVID-19 vaccines in indoor areas such as restaurants, gyms and museums.