Good news about omicron: It may pass quickly, pose small threat to vaccinated, experts say

Written by on December 28, 2021

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Fauci: World has been ‘shocked’ by omicron variant

America’s main infectious illness professional Dr. Anthony Fauci stated Monday the world had been “shocked” by the emergence of the omicron variant of the coronavirus as extra nations are reporting surges in infections. (Dec. 21)

AP

Two items of fine information about omicron to take into the brand new 12 months: It might not be round for lengthy, and people who find themselves totally vaccinated need not fear, so long as they’ve a wholesome immune system.

As a result of omicron is so extremely contagious, medical consultants say its peak is not prone to final lengthy.

It is already burned by South Africa because it was first recognized the day earlier than Thanksgiving and instances are falling there. Within the week ending Dec. 26, the variety of newly identified had dropped practically 36% from their peak per week earlier, in line with a USA TODAY evaluation of Johns Hopkins College information.

If the northeast, which has been battered by COVID-19’s omicron variant over the previous two weeks, follows the identical sample, it may see falling case charges as quickly as mid-January, although since the U.S. is so massive, it is prone to take time to maneuver throughout the nation, consultants say.

The information is even higher for folks with the vaccine. Though two photographs are not as protecting towards omicron as they have been towards earlier variants, vaccination and boosting appears to make an enormous distinction in folks with a wholesome immune system.

These with three photographs who get contaminated appear to undergo only a unhealthy sore throat and a few fatigue and muscle ache for a number of days, Dr. Craig Spencer, an emergency room doctor in New York Metropolis, stated Monday in a Twitter thread.

Individuals who’ve had two photographs get considerably worse signs. “Extra fatigued. Extra fever. Extra coughing. Just a little extra depressing total,” he wrote.

Those that’ve had only one shot, he stated, fared worse, feeling horrible for a variety of days. “Not nice, however not life-threatening.”

Just about all of those that need to be admitted to the hospital for COVID-19 are unvaccinated, stated Spencer, who works at New York-Presbyterian/Columbia College Medical Middle. “Each one with profound shortness of breath. Each one whose oxygen dropped after they walked. Each one needing oxygen to breathe repeatedly.”

Docs at different hospitals corroborated his account. Vaccinated folks merely have fewer signs and are sick for shorter durations, a number of stated.

The one exception are these whose immune methods are weak, maybe due to remedy or outdated age. 

“The immunocompromised and people who find themselves significantly frail – there we need to watch out,” stated Dr. Rajesh Gandhi, an infectious illness specialist at Massachusetts Normal Hospital. “That is an essential group that regardless of vaccination have not been totally protected.”

The variety of sufferers at Mass. Normal has greater than doubled previously two weeks, from about 40 to 45 with COVID-19 through the delta wave to now over 100 as omicron has taken over, Gandhi stated. Telephone calls to the hospital have skyrocketed, too, with greater than 500 asking for data over Christmas weekend, he stated, referring to it as “an unprecedented quantity.”

Omicron has additionally made it trickier to assist folks keep out of the hospital, Gandhi stated. Two of the three monoclonal antibodies routinely given to folks at excessive threat for extreme illness not work towards omicron, whereas a 3rd, sotrovimab, is briefly provide.

Two antiviral capsules, Paxlovid and molnupiravir, licensed by the Meals and Drug Administration final week, are a lot simpler to present and will make a profound distinction within the pandemic, Gandhi stated. However they don’t seem to be broadly out there but, and he hasn’t had any to supply.

Though researchers imagine omicron could also be much less harmful than earlier variants, as a result of it is so contagious, it might nonetheless land simply as many or extra folks within the hospital, stated Jeremy Luban, an infectious illness professional on the UMass Chan Medical College in Worcester, Massachusetts.

Which means a return to the times of making an attempt to “flatten the curve” to maintain hospitals from getting overwhelmed stated Luban and Jacob Lemieux, an infectious illness professional at Mass. Normal, who joined Gandhi and different Massachusetts researchers on a convention name with reporters Monday afternoon.

“We’ve got to carry these two realities of omicron in our thoughts as we take into consideration go ahead,” Lemieux stated. “The image shouldn’t be completely bleak. With these new medicines … it actually does counsel there’s gentle on the finish of the tunnel, however we’ve got to get by the tunnel, and the tunnel is lengthy, and it is trying darkish for the following few weeks at the very least.”

By shifting so quick and infecting so many individuals, hopefully in a much less severe means, may omicron give numerous folks immunity and assist hasten the tip of the pandemic? 

Sadly, in all probability not.

“The concept of a much less pathogenic virus that would instill cross-protective immunity with out inflicting long-COVID would definitely be a godsend,” stated Dr. Bruce Walker, founding director of the Ragon Institute of MGH, MIT, and Harvard, which focuses on immunology. “I do not assume any of us is keen to say that omicron is it. Actually, I believe it is seemingly that it is not.”

Mike Stucka contributed to this report.

Contact Karen Weintraub at kweintraub@usatoday.com.

Well being and affected person security protection at USA TODAY is made doable partly by a grant from the Masimo Basis for Ethics, Innovation and Competitors in Healthcare. The Masimo Basis doesn’t present editorial enter.

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Drivers wait in line for COVID checks in Decatur, Georgia

Lengthy strains have been reported at COVID-19 check websites throughout the US forward of the vacations and amid a surge in Omicron instances. Credit score: Kato Leonard by way of Storyful.

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