UK Reports First Omicron Death as Variant Continues to Spread Rapidly

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A coronavirus death was announced Monday by UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, as Britain expanded its booster program for those aged 30 and up. “At least one patient has died with Omicron,” Johnson told reporters. The confirmation comes amid reports of the new strain causing minor sickness compared to the dominant Delta strain.

The WHO said Omicron is more transmissible than Delta and reduces vaccine efficacy but causes less severe symptoms. As of December 9, the Omicron variety was found in at least 63 nations, according to the UN.

“I think we need to put the assumption that this is a gentler virus to one side and just acknowledge the sheer rapidity at which it spreads across the population,” Johnson said.

The UK’s National Health Service expanded its vaccine booster campaign on Monday after discovering that an extra dose of Covid protects against Omicron-caused mild illness. The booking system is having difficulty due to the increased demand for booster shots.

“Due to strong demand, the COVID vaccine booking service has implemented a queuing system. Booking for those aged 18-29 begins on December 15th. “We recommend trying again later today or tomorrow,” UK NHS posted on Twitter.

New modeling research predicts up to 74,800 fatalities from the Omicron strain in the UK by April 2022. The study predicts that if no extra control measures are implemented beyond the current ‘Plan B’ policy in England, Omicron might create a wave of transmission leading to more illnesses and hospitalizations than January 2021.

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