Americans Headed for Second Straight Pandemic-Affected Christmas

December 24, 2021 Topic: Omicron Region: Americas Blog Brand: Coronavirus Tags: OmicronCoronavirusPandemicChristmasAirlines

Americans Headed for Second Straight Pandemic-Affected Christmas

The latest CDC data indicates that more than sixty-two million Americans have received a booster shot.


Once again, Christmas and New Year’s will be celebrated by Americans amid quickly rising coronavirus cases. But this time, they are largely fueled by the new and highly mutated Omicron coronavirus variant

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the variant, which was first detected in South Africa only about a month ago, now accounts for 90 percent of all coronavirus cases in some parts of the United States. Overall, it represents more than 73 percent of all cases in the country.  

It was just last week when U.S. health officials said Omicron accounted for only 2.9 percent of all cases.  

“This rapid increase in the proportion of Omicron circulating around the country is similar to what we’ve seen across the world,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said Wednesday during a press briefing on the virus at the White House. 

Jeff Zients, the White House COVID response coordinator, had previously acknowledged that the unvaccinated are eight times more likely to end up hospitalized and fourteen times more likely to die when compared to those who have been vaccinated.  

“Early data on the vaccine is promising against the omicron variant,” Walensky noted. “Especially when people are boosted.” 

The latest CDC data are indicating that more than sixty-two million Americans have received a booster shot—representing about 19 percent of all Americans and 30 percent of all individuals who are vaccinated.  

WHO Against Blanket Booster Programs 

The World Health Organization (WHO), however, criticized blanket vaccine booster programs as poorer nations still struggle to get their hands on initial doses.  

“Blanket booster programs are likely to prolong the pandemic, rather than ending it, by diverting supply to countries that already have high levels of vaccination coverage, giving the virus more opportunity to spread and mutate,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said during a news briefing on Wednesday.  

“No country can boost its way out of the pandemic,” he added. 

The WHO has estimated that only about half of its member states will have vaccinated at least 40 percent of their respective populations by the end of this year.  

Vaccinated Can Safely Celebrate 

Despite the fact that Omicron has quickly raced past other variants to become the dominant version of the coronavirus in the United States, President Joe Biden contended that Americans who are fully vaccinated can still safely celebrate the holidays.  

“I know some Americans are wondering if you can safely celebrate the holidays with your family and friends,” he said Tuesday in a White House speech. “The answer is, yes you can if you and those you celebrate with are vaccinated, particularly if you’ve gotten your booster shot.”  

Walensky shared similar sentiments. “We want people to be able to gather” over the holidays, she told CNN on Wednesday.  

“And safe gathering includes, of course, being vaccinated, ideally being boosted and making sure that all the people who you gather with are also vaccinated and boosted,” she added.  

Ethen Kim Lieser is a Washington state-based Science and Tech Editor who has held posts at Google, The Korea Herald, Lincoln Journal Star, AsianWeek, and Arirang TV. Follow or contact him on LinkedIn.  

Image: Reuters