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Three cases of Omicron variant detected in Boston adults, city announces

A sign on the door at Quincy Market in August.Suzanne Kreiter/Globe Staff

Three cases of the Omicron variant have been identified in Boston adults, none of whom were fully vaccinated, the Boston Public Health Commission said Wednesday.

The variant was detected in “three Boston young adults over the age of 18,” the commission said in a statement. Further identification information was not provided.

All three people had mild cases and did not need to be hospitalized, the commission said.

Massachusetts officials announced on Dec. 5 that the first confirmed Omicron case had been detected in the state in a woman in her 20s who lives in Middlesex County. The woman, who is fully vaccinated, had a case of “mild disease” and did not need to be hospitalized, the state’s Department of Public Health said.

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The news of Omicron cases in Boston came the same day that Dr. Anthony Fauci, the federal government’s top infectious disease specialist, said a variant-specific vaccine to protect against Omicron isn’t currently necessary, with data showing boosters developed by Pfizer and Moderna appear to increase protection against the variant.

“Our booster vaccine regimens work against Omicron,” Dr. Anthony Fauci said during a White House COVID-19 briefing. “At this point, there is no need for a variant-specific booster, and so the message remains clear: If you are unvaccinated, get vaccinated, and particularly in the arena of Omicron, if you are fully vaccinated, get your booster shot.”

Based on specimens collected last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Omicron accounted for about 3% of genetically-sequenced coronaviruses nationally. Percentages vary by region, with the highest – 13% – in the New York/New Jersey area.

But Harvard experts said these are likely underestimates because Omicron is moving so fast that surveillance attempts can’t keep up.

Globally, more than 75 countries have reported confirmed cases of Omicron. In the United States, 36 states have detected the variant. Meanwhile, Delta is surging in many places, with hot spots in New England and the upper Midwest. The five states with the highest two-week rolling average of cases per 100,000 people are New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Michigan, Minnesota and Vermont.

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Boston public health officials are urging residents to get vaccinated, and for those already vaccinated to get boosted. They also urge residents who are exposed to someone with COVID-19 to get tested regardless of vaccination status.


Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.


Amanda Kaufman can be reached at amanda.kaufman@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @amandakauf1.