21 December 2021

Omicron news

I'm sure I'll be accused of grasping at straws, but I follow Josh Marshall's summaries of his wide sampling of literature on COVID developments. While he notes that the spread of Omicron is really, really fast; much faster than all previous variants (so we can expect it to be everywhere in the next two to three weeks)... note this: 

The more reassuring news is that we now have a growing body of evidence that this wave produces significantly less mortality and hospitalization as a percentage of cases than previous waves. Whether that is because this variant is intrinsically less lethal or because it's spreading so rapidly through a population where the overwhelming majority of people have some level of immunity is not clear. But the precise mechanism seems secondary to the observed fact. It's also true that at least in South Africa the outbreak in Gauteng province peaked after roughly four weeks – about half as long as previous outbreaks. These are both encouraging signs.

The usual view seems to be that this thing is so contagious, and so able to break through and cause at least some infection even in vaccinated people, that everyone should just expect to get COVID in the next few months. Not everyone will, and for the great majority if they do it will be mild and not require hospitalization or be a real threat to life, but this is spreading so fast and spiking infection rates so high that unless you go into lockdown, which most people are just too weary to do again, getting sick is fairly likely. Fortunately, the real threat of this pandemic has been greatly mitigated by the vaccines, and that remains true. 

Of course the corollary of that, for people with friends or relatives who are not vaccinated, is that for them, there's a world of hurt still to come. 

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