UF researchers believe next COVID case spike could be 3x higher than delta spike

Published: December 22, 2021 4:07 PM EST
Updated: December 22, 2021 4:14 PM EST

University of Florida researchers have alarming new predictions about a possible COVID-19 case spike after the emergence of the highly contagious omicron variant.

The omicron variant now accounts for 73% of cases in the U.S. UF researchers believe COVID-19 cases in Florida could be three times higher than the delta spike we experienced in late August.

The combination of a higher number of mutations with increased spread caught the attention of the NCH COVID Task Force, David Lindner. “That obviously affects our immunity,” said Lindner. “Which is one of the reasons we see people who are having breakthrough infections, infections after having COVID-19, and infections after having the vaccine.”

The UF study noted that prior infection doesn’t provide as much of an advantage for the omicron variant. However, the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are showing the most benefit.

“But we’re still seeing a lot of people who’ve been vaccinated now, are getting COVID with Omicron. What we are going to rapidly learn is how severe those cases are,” said Lindner.

Currently, delta is much more deadly and severe than omicron. Dr. Lindner told WINK News that people should still take precautions.

COVID-19 symptoms include cough, fatigue congestion, and/or runny nose. “Because many people are going, ‘Oh, this is not going to be that bad because it’s not as severe,'” said Lindner. “It’s still worthwhile attempting to prevent it. And we do have means of doing that.”

Projections from the UF study predict that there will be a peak of about 150,000 cases per day by February, with about 30,000 being asymptomatic.

Right now, health officials are assuming all new cases of COVID-19 are the omicron variant. The following two weeks will provide more clarity on the severity of this variant.