The Biden administration got here beneath fireplace for its pandemic response and communications because the omicron variant continues to drive U.S. Covid-19 instances.
Conflicting steering on points corresponding to boosters and testing have left the general public confused about how greatest to guard themselves, Republican Senator Richard Burr, the rating member of the Senate Committee on Well being, Schooling, Labor and Pensions, mentioned in a listening to Tuesday.
The administration’s booster rollout and the latest replace to the quarantine and isolation steering have been a “mess” and a “catastrophe,” Burr mentioned within the listening to. “I’m not questioning the science,” he mentioned, “however I’m questioning your communication methods. It’s no marvel the American individuals are confused.”
The U.S. and nations worldwide have been hit by surges for the reason that emergence of omicron in South Africa late final yr. The rapidly spreading mutant was categorized by the World Well being Group as a variant of concern in November and has swept by way of the U.S. because it was detected in California on Dec. 1.
Learn extra: What We Know About Omicron Signs So Far
Omicron accounted for 98% of all sequenced Covid instances within the U.S. within the week ending Jan. 8, up from 95% within the earlier week, Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky mentioned Tuesday in remarks ready for the listening to. The surge dangers placing extra pressure on health-care techniques as flu season intensifies, she advised Senate lawmakers.
Though knowledge counsel that omicron infections are much less extreme than these from different variants corresponding to delta, the transmissibility and excessive variety of infections with the brand new variant nonetheless threaten hospitals, clinics and docs’ workplaces with added pressure, Walensky mentioned. Different seasonal infections alongside omicron might create an much more dire scenario, she mentioned.
“These stresses seemingly can be along with the continued delta variant infections and a rising burden of sickness attributable to different respiratory pathogens, corresponding to influenza, which have begun circulating at higher frequencies,” she mentioned in her remarks.
Well being officers have been working to observe the unfold of the variant, which is ready to partially evade the impact of Covid pictures. Booster pictures restore the safety given by preliminary vaccination regimens, research present.
Anthony Fauci, President Joe Biden’s medical adviser and head of the Nationwide Institute of Allergy and Infectious Ailments, Meals and Drug Administration Performing Commissioner Janet Woodcock and Well being and Human Companies Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response Daybreak O’Connell are additionally giving testimony.