Frances Collins, the outgoing director of the National Institutes of Health, warned that the United States could record one million cases of the mutation Omicron Daily if Americans don’t take precautions against coronavirus.
The retired NIH director, whose last day was Sunday, warned in NPR’s “weekend edition” that the highly transmissible omicron mutant could continue to cause millions of cases in the United States, even if it ends up being A milder case of the outbreak.
“Even if the risk was somewhat lower, we could have a million cases a day if we weren’t really interested in all these mitigation strategies and you know that a small portion of a large number is still a really big number,” he said.
He added, “I don’t know we will get that, but there are certainly predictions that it could happen with a virus that appears to be doubling in most places where it was present every two to four days.”
While at least 43 states have detected the Omicron strain, scientists say the current increases in cases, hospitalizations and deaths can be attributed to the delta variable, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates make up nearly 97 percent of the US total.
The increased prevalence of the Omicron strain with 57 different mutations could further strain testing capacity and US hospitals, experts said.
Collins said he worries “a lot” about the overstretched health care system and the possibility of losing health care workers catching the virus, saying: “I know people are sick of this. I’m sick of that too, believe me. But the virus never tires of us.”
The CDC considers the majority of counties in the United States to have high and significant transmission before the weekend.
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