Christmas Eve air travel well below 2019 levels amid flight cancellations as Omicron cases rise

(CNN) – While the number of people flying from U.S. airports this year has at one point matched and exceeded 2019 levels, Christmas Eve air travel fell significantly below pre-pandemic levels.

Thousands of Christmas weekend flights were canceled at the last minute due to staff and crew calling the sick amid the Omicron surge. The new variant has become the dominant strain of coronavirus in the United States.
More than 1.7 million people passed through Transportation Security Administration (TSA) checkpoints on Friday, TSA spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein said on Twitter. This is more than 800,000 people less than the nearly 2.6 million screened in 2019 before the coronavirus pandemic.

That number is even higher than the 846,520 people the agency selected on Christmas Eve 2020.

Less than three weeks after Omicron was first detected in the United States, it accounted for more than 73% of all new cases on Monday, according to data from the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Despite the increase in coronavirus cases, millions of people are still traveling, with TSA reporting 2.19 million people tested at airports across the country on Thursday, the highest figure since the start of the rise in holiday travel A week ago.

On Wednesday, there were more people who traveled to U.S. airports than in 2019.

Globally, airlines have canceled about 5,700 flights on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and the day after, according to FlightAware. This includes approximately 1,700 flights within, to or from the United States.

Health officials recommend third booster shots

In recent weeks, responding to both Omicron and clear evidence of waning immunity to the Delta variant after six months, public health officials have strongly encouraged those already vaccinated to receive a third dose. – the reminder – pronto.
The addition of the third injection is also clearly effective against Omicron, with data from the National Institutes of Health on the Pfizer vaccine showing that protection after three doses can be up to around 80% effective. Preliminary data from Imperial College London on the two mRNA vaccines used in the United States places protection against a third dose between 55% and 80%.

As former NIH director Francis Collins and UK executives noted, booster-induced immunity is also key to reducing the risk of severe symptoms, even if a breakthrough infection were to occur.

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