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US tops 50m COVID instances, Delta dominates

The United States has crossed 50 million coronavirus cases as the Delta variant continues to threaten Americans and the newly discovered Omicron variant spreads.

After about two months of declining infections, the United States has reported daily increases for the past two weeks, driven by the easily transmitted Delta variant.

States in colder parts of the country are seeing the biggest surge in new infections on a per capita basis, including Vermont, New Hampshire and Michigan, according to a Reuters tally.

The number of hospitalised COVID patients is rising as well, up 20 per cent since the Thanksgiving holiday at the end of November.

Over the past month, deaths have increased by 4.6 per cent, with the country’s death toll surpassing 800,000.

Nearly half of US states have detected cases of the Omicron variant, but the Delta strain still accounts for 99 per cent of current COVID cases, CDC Director Dr Rochelle Walensky has said.

“If we suddenly start to see 10 per cent of new infections being Omicron, and then it goes up the next week to 20 per cent, that would tell us that we’re in a replacement wave such as we saw when Delta replaced Alpha,” said John Moore, a professor of microbiology and immunology at Weill Cornell Medical College.

Analysis shows it took almost a year to reach the first 25 million COVID cases and 323 days, less than a year, to go from 25 million to 50 million cases.

Around 14 per cent of people in the United States have now received a booster shot of a coronavirus vaccine.

Close to 10 million of those people have received the extra shot since the Thanksgiving holiday, with concerns raging about the Omicron variant.

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