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Omicron multiplies 70 times faster in humans than delta, scientists report

The omicron variant multiplies about 70 times faster in the human respiratory tract than the delta variant and reaches higher levels in the tissue compared to delta after infection, according to a Wednesday report by University of Hong Kong scientists.

The data gives a hint as to why the new variant has been spreading as fast as it has. In the U.S. the percentage of cases caused by omicron jumped from 0.4% to 2.9% in just a week. In the New York region, about 13% of all COVID cases are omicron.

In addition, the risk of spreading the variant to another household member is three times higher than with the delta variant, according to U.K. health officials.

Despite the rapid growth and explosive infection, existing vaccines and precautions are still effective at preventing serious illness from infection, global health leaders say.

Latest COVID-19 data

South Carolina health officials reported 1,104 total cases of COVID-19 Dec. 16, with 651 confirmed. A total of 14 new deaths, with 12 confirmed, were also reported.

With 12,627 tests reported today, 8.0% were confirmed positive.

Percentage of S.C. residents age 12+ with at least one vaccine: 64.1%
Percentage of of S.C. residents age 12+ who have completed vaccination: 55.6%
Percentage of S.C. residents age 5-11 with at least one vaccine: 9.8%
Percentage of S.C. residents age 5-11 who have completed vaccination: 5.0%