Global Omicron cases surge as many give up on testing

Almost twice as many people were diagnosed with Covid-19 in the past seven days as the pandemic’s previous weekly record thanks to a tsunami of Omicron that has swamped every aspect of daily life in many parts of the globe.

The highly mutated and infectious variant drove cases to a record 10 million in the seven days through Sunday, almost double the previous record of 5.7 million seen during a week in late April.

The surging number of infections, at a time when many people have given up on testing or are using at-home kits with results that aren’t reported to local authorities, has led to canceled flights, closed offices, and strangled production facilities and supply chains.

Soaring infections – with a record number of cases reported from Australia and the US to Italy and France – disrupted the holiday season a year after vaccines first started rolling out and two years after the emergence of the virus that many initially hoped would be fleeting.

The silver lining is that weekly Covid deaths are still on a downward trajectory, falling to their lowest level in more than a year.

The outlook for 2022 depends on whether the death toll follows cases and picks up in the weeks to come, or if early evidence suggesting the Omicron wave will be less severe holds up as more real-world data emerges.

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