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DHHS: Omicron variant confirmed in 52% of Nebraska’s recent COVID-19 cases

WOWT 6 News Live at 10
Published: Jan. 4, 2022 at 8:16 PM CST
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LINCOLN, Neb. (WOWT) - The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services on Tuesday issued a report on its Health Alert Network stating that the omicron variant now accounts for 52% of COVID-19 tests sequenced in the state in the past two weeks.

According to data collected from the Nebraska Hospital Capacity & Respiratory Illness Dashboard, 192,484 COVID-19 tests have been administered in the state since Dec. 21, though health officials have said previously that not every test is sequenced to determine whether any specific variant is present; instead, a certain percentage of positive tests is sampled and sent to the state lab for sequencing.

“Jurisdictional variation exists but given its rapid growth, it is likely omicron will soon become predominant even in regions with lower proportions of omicron identifications currently,” the DHHS report states.

The report goes on to say that the Regeneron antibody treatment has been rendered ineffective against the omicron variant, but that Sotrovimab — which is in short supply nationally and statewide, as is Paxlovid — still works.

“Prioritization of therapeutics will be required as we await improvement in the supply chain,” the update states.

The National Institutes of Health advised of such supply chain issues in an update on Dec. 23, stating: “With the increase in cases of COVID-19 and the emergence of the Omicron (B.1.1.529) variant of concern, there may be logistical or supply constraints that make it impossible to offer the available therapy to all eligible patients, making patient triage necessary.”

In that report, NIH outlined recommendations for such triage. DHHS in turn is recommending the following treatment prioritizations, which mirror the initial COVID-19 vaccine rollout population priorities:

  • Tier 1: Immunocompromised individuals, regardless of vaccine status; or unvaccinated individuals at the highest risk of severe disease (anyone ages 75 and older or anyone ages 65 and older who have additional risk factors).
  • Tier 2: Unvaccinated individuals at risk of severe disease not included in Tier 1 (anyone ages 65 years or older or anyone younger who has clinical risk factors).
  • Tier 3: Vaccinated individuals at high risk of severe disease (anyone ages 75 and older or anyone ages 65 and older who have additional risk factors), including vaccinated individuals who have not received a COVID-19 vaccine booster.
  • Tier 4: Vaccinated individuals at risk of severe disease (anyone ages 65 years or older or anyone younger who has clinical risk factors), including vaccinated individuals who have not received a COVID-19 vaccine booster.

The document also outlines treatment suggestions and priorities for those high-risk outpatients with mild to moderate omicron COVID-19.

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