AN UNVACCINATED Texas man is the first recorded person in the US to have died from the omicron variant of the coronavirus.
The Harris County Public Health department in Houston released a statement on Monday saying the man who died was in his 50s and had previously been infected with Covid-19.
"The individual was at higher risk of severe complications from Covid-19 due to his unvaccinated status and had underlying health conditions," read the statement.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the patient’s family, and we extend our deepest sympathies,” said Harris County Public Health Executive DirectorBarbie Robinson.
“This is a reminder of the severity of Covid-19 and its variants. We urge all residents who qualify to get vaccinated and get their booster shot if they have not already.”
This was the first death locally as a result of the omicron strain, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo said.
The death is believed to be the first known omicron-related fatality in the nation, ABC News reports.
The Centers for Disease Control and Protection announced on Monday that the omicron variant now makes up the majority of Covid-19 cases in the nation.
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More than73.2 percent of coronavirus cases are linked back to the highly mutated strain.
The variant was first identified in South Africa last month but has since spread globally.
Read our Joe Biden Covid speech live blog for the very latest news and updates…
The omicron strain is highly transmissible, with experts saying those who are fully vaccinated and have received a booster shot are well protected against the disease.
President Joe Biden will be address the nation regarding the viral strain, going live from the White House at 2:30pm ET this afternoon.
In the speech include plans to announce 500 million free rapid Covid tests for Americans, increased support for hospitals under strain, and a redoubling of vaccination and boosting efforts.
The federal government will also establish new testing sites, and is prepared to send an additional 1,000 troops with medical skills to hospitals.
The measures come after nine out of 10 patients in the ICUs in London are unvaccinated.
WHAT ELSE TO LOOK OUT FOR?
The virus can affect people in a dozen ways, the pandemic has shown.
Diarrhea, confusion, loss of appetite, muscle and joint aches, a rash and irritated eyes are just some of the other reported symptoms from studies and the World Health Organization.
Some experts say if you feel unwell, regardless of the symptoms, it is worth getting tested.
If you have a cough, fever or loss of smell and/or taste, you should immediately get a test, the CDC says.
If I'm vaccinated, can I still get Omicron?
Yes. Two shots offer much less protection against the new variant.
Even if you get the booster you can still catch it – no vaccine offers complete protection against any disease.
But your chances will be far, far, reduced if you have the booster shot.
How long does it take for my booster to kick in?
It won't be straight away, but it will be quicker than the first two shots.
It should take between seven to 14 days to kick in, so to be on the safe side think of day 10 as when you'll be fully protected.
From that point antibody levels should stay high for up to six weeks before they start to gradually decline.
Why is Omicron so infectious?
Omicron has over 50 mutations that make it better able to break through the body's defenses and infect us.
It can also evade immunity from vaccines and prior natural infection – although boosters provide better protection.
But this means it can infect people where other variants couldn't, and spread further.
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