The Omicron surge in America, which has accelerated at an incredible rate, appears to be peaking, according to analysis by J.P. Morgan.
In a report published on Tuesday, the investment banking company notes that the U.S. peak has not come any later than in the U.K., despite the lower vaccination rate.
The Omicron wave in the U.S. also looks to be peaking, despite a significantly worse vaccination profile. The overall level of fully vaccinated individuals in the US, at 62% of the total population, is lower than in the U.K., where 70% of the total population have been fully vaccinated, but the difference is not huge. More striking is the difference in the share of the population who have received a booster shot, 24% of the total population in the U.S. compared with 54% in the U.K. Given the importance of boosters in lifting protection, after the protection from the primary doses fades over time, it might have been expected that the Omicron infection upswing would last longer in the U.S. than in the U.K.. But this does not seem to be the case. It looks like the effective reproduction number in the U.S. returned to 1.0 on January 16th, only 31 days after the Omicron variant first pushed it above 1.0 in mid-December
Reported infections vary considerably by state, with some on their way down while others have yet to peak (note in the below that while all the charts show reported infections per 100,000, the scale for each state is different).
One of the more surprising aspects of the U.S. surge is that, unlike in the U.K., hospitalisations have hit record levels, despite the vaccine programme and the relative mildness of Omicron, with highly vaccinated north eastern states particularly badly affected.
To what extent this is an artefact of incidental hospital admissions is unclear as this data is not routinely published.
Even deaths are headed up in some states – and again, this includes some of the most vaccinated states in the North East (note some of the rise is pre-Omicron).
Why this is and what it means for the effectiveness of the vaccines will need to be analysed in more detail once the data is in and the dust has settled.