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Officials stand by vaccines as best chance against omicron variant

The Biden administration is holding fas behind vaccines and booster shops as a key defense against a new, potentially dangerous coronavirus variant dubbed omicron.

Identified in South Africa over the holiday weekend, the omicron variant’s impact on global infection still remains unclear, according to a White House press release. A group of health officials had a call with South African scientists Sunday to review the latest and help inform next steps.

The World Health Organization (WHO) said it is too early to determine whether omicron is more or less infectious than delta, but some health experts believe it may be vulnerable to current vaccines, making vaccination rates all the more important for impacted areas.

No cases of the omicron variant have been identified in the United States, but cases have emerged in Ontario, Canada.

Latest COVID-19 data

South Carolina health officials reported 440 total cases of COVID-19 Nov. 29, with 267 confirmed. A total of 4 new deaths, all confirmed, were also reported.

Over the holiday weekend, DHEC confirmed 1,807 new cases, with 463 confirmed Thursday, 620 confirmed Friday, 485 confirmed Saturday and 239 confirmed Sunday. A total of 44 new deaths were also confirmed over the long weekend, with 27 deaths confirmed Thursday, 7 confirmed Friday, none confirmed Saturday and 10 confirmed Sunday.

With 7,226 tests reported Monday, 4.9% were confirmed positive.

Percentage of S.C. residents age 12+ with at least one vaccine: 62.6%
Percentage of of S.C. residents age 12+ who have completed vaccination: 54.7%
Percentage of S.C. residents age 5-11 with at least one vaccine: 6.0%
Percentage of S.C. residents age 5-11 who have completed vaccination: 0%