Cleveland Clinic Says Omicron Variant Is 'More Transmissible' as Cases Double in a Week

The Cleveland Clinic released data Friday stating that the COVID-19 Omicron variant is "more transmissible" compared to previous strains of the virus, after nearly a third of 3,000 COVID-19 daily tests conducted by the clinic yielded positive for Omicron. This represents a major spike in Omicron-positive cases seen throughout the Ohio-based health system, as just the week prior, the clinic reported that it was only seeing half the number of Omicron cases.

"We are learning this variant is more transmissible, and we are seeing evidence of this by the increased spread in our community," The Cleveland Clinic said in a statement.

Cleveland Clinic
New research from The Cleveland Clinic shows that the COVID-19 Omicron variant is "more transmissible" than previously seen strains of the virus, and is likely more deadly for the unvaccinated. Here, the entrance sign to the clinic can be seen. J.D. Pooley/Getty

The massive increase in Omicron cases comes just a day after the health system put out a press release advocating the effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccines while urging everyone to get vaccinated.

"Science has proved [vaccines] work, but only if we take them. There may be breakthrough infections — infections in those who are fully vaccinated — but those are typically milder and don't require hospitalization or ICU care," the statement read. "The vast majority of hospitalized patients with COVID-19 have not been vaccinated."

"Those who are hospitalized — despite being fully vaccinated — are generally older patients and people with compromised immune systems, often due to cancer treatments, transplant medications or immune-related disease," the readout continued.

The press release also pointed to a recent study by the independent healthcare researcher the Commonwealth Fund, which showed that the vaccine "has profoundly curbed the pandemic's toll."

Without the use of an effective vaccination campaign, the United States would've seen nearly 36 million more COVID infections and an additional 1.1 million deaths from the virus.

Despite this, the number of Americans who have received their jabs remains low enough to allow for the significant spread of Omicron to continue. At the moment, just 61 percent of the country has been fully vaccinated, according to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

As the push for more vaccinations continues, Omicron has helped the virus further its reach.

As the United States on Wednesday passed 800,000 COVID deaths since the start of the pandemic, New York City, the one-time epicenter of the virus in 2020, saw a record-high 21,027 daily cases on Friday, according to Governor Kathy Hochul.

This comes as the total number of cases in the U.S. crosses the 50 million threshold.

Omicron has also reared its head in many other nations, with the United Kingdom reporting its first Omicron-related death this past Dec. 13. A number of bars and restaurants across London reportedly shut down as a precaution, according to CNN, and it is possible a similar scenario could occur in the U.S. if the virus numbers don't subside.

The Cleveland Clinic told Newsweek, "Currently the majority of our hospitalizations are unvaccinated; 80 percent. The vast majority of vaccinated patients hospitalized because of COVID have underlying health issues.

"As we go through this wave, we'll learn more. Right now, we have 800 patients hospitalized with COVID-19 in northeast Ohio. The vaccine continues to still be our best protection from severe illness with Omicron."

(12/20/2021, 12 a.m. ET): This story has been updated with a statement from The Cleveland Clinic.