How Fast Is Omicron Spreading?

Omicron spreads in South Africa

South Africa was the first country in the world to discover the Omicron variant. At that time, it was not named as Omicron, but B.1.1.529 as firstly published in the Nature Journal on November 26, 2021 (Yiu, 2021a).

Figure 1 South Africa’s daily newly confirmed cases (smoothed) and its daily growth rate from November 1, 2021 to January 5, 2022. Source: Our World in Data (2022)

Omicron spreads in the UK

The Omicron variant was spread from South Africa to the UK. The daily number of newly confirmed cases has now risen above 180,000. Figure 2 shows the UK situation since November 1, 2021.

Figure 2 The daily number of newly confirmed cases (smoothed) in the UK from November 1, 2021 to January 5, 2022 and its daily growth rate. Source: Our World in Data (2022)

Omicron spreads in the US

The outbreak of the Omicron variant in the United States has resulted in more than one million confirmed cases in a single day, which is a global record so far. The situation is more severe than that in the United Kingdom. The daily number of newly confirmed cases (smoothed) has risen to almost 600,000. Figure 3 shows the daily number of new confirmed cases (smoothed) and their daily growth rate in the United States from November 1, 2021 to January 5, 2022.

Figure 3 The daily number of new confirmed cases (smoothed) in the United States from November 1, 2021 to January 5, 2022 and its daily growth rate. Source: Our World in Data (2022)

Daily Growth Rate

With reference to the period from the Omicron outbreak to the peak in South Africa, from November 17 to December 17, it took about one month to increase from 264 cases to 23,437 cases, an increase of 86.7 times. It is equivalent to a continuous constant daily growth rate of 15.3% (Yiu, 2021b).

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