The United States has recorded its first death related to the Omicron variant of the Covid-19, with the victim being a Texas man in his 50s who was unvaccinated, according to reports. The man died on Monday and had underlying health conditions, according to an ABCreport. The name of the victim hasn't been revealed yet.
The news was announced by Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo on Monday night, around the same time the Centers for Disease Control confirmed that the Omicron now accounts for 73 percent of the US coronavirus infections. The news took a toll on US markets, with the Dow Jones tumbling over 400 points. All the three major indexes ended in the red.
The unnamed Texas man is believed to be the first case of death form the Covid-19 Omicron variant in the United States. The victim, aged between 50-60 years old, was at higher risk of severe complications from Covid-19 as he was unvaccinated, the health department said in a statement.
Hidalgo said that the man was treated with Regeneron antibody therapy but the efforts to save his life were unsuccessful. "My phone was ringing, and it was the public health director telling me we just had our first Omicron-related death," she said.
"A man in his 50s, resides in Harris County Precinct 2. I know for folks in Harris County this feels like whiplash... It is so frustrating. I feel it too. I understand the impulse to just tune out the latest news and be sick and tired of all of this, but as we've been expecting, the Omicron variant of Covid-19 has arrived in full force," Hidalgo added.
Hidalgo also said that the Omicron variant was spreading a lot faster in the United States and was doubling in two to three days as against Delta, which doubled every 11 days. She also said that there is a lot still to be known about the Omicron variant and the vaccine definitely will help people.
"Omicron is producing breakthrough infections. This does not mean the vaccine doesn't work - on the contrary, it is keeping people out of hospitals," she said.
"Every day we learn something new about this virus."
No doubt, Omicron has gripped the entire United States, with cases multiplying every day. The government has been encouraging people to take the vaccine and the booster shot but there still seems to be a lot of resistance from many.
Hidalgo said that the vaccine and booster shot is priority at this time as "evidence shows that for those vaccinated and with the booster, it is much, much less likely that they are going to end up in the hospital."
"We do know the vaccine and booster will keep the number of hospitalizations very low."
On Monday, Hidalgo also raised the Covid-19 threat level from yellow to orange, which means unvaccinated people are now required to avoid large gatherings.
She advised vaccinated people to remain vigilant and wear masks. "The time to get your booster shot is now," she said. "As we approach Christmas and New Year - give yourself, and give your family, the gift of health."
US Stocks Bleed
Growing fears of the Omicron has been take a toll on global markets over the past few weeks. On Monday, following the announcement of the first case of death form the Omicron variant, major US indexes started feeling the heat, with the Dow Jones tumbling as much as 433.28 points to close at 34,932.16.
The blue chip index was dragged down by losses in Boeing, Goldman Sachs and American Express, all major stocks that are likely to benefit form the economic reopening.
The S&P 500 also posted its third straight day of losses. The index has now slipped 3.01 percent in the past three days, marking its worst three-day decline since September. The tech-heavy Nasdaq has also fallen 3.76 percent over the past three days, marking its worst three-day stretch since May.