The Omicron Blues
So with the case count breaking records and a high-risk wife, I thought it wise to take a look at measures taken this past year. But there is a truly schizophrenic angle. As average individuals, omicron is less dangerous to us. As a group, it is far and away more dangerous.
So the less-lethal part becomes instant grist for the “go back to normal” crowd and the anti mandate extremists that now include the violent. They ignore the 800,000+ dead as a mere statistic and ignore the bad news about omicron. If we are not careful the hospitals will go over capacity again. Omicron is wildly contagious. Mild and wild at the same time. Makes it a bad time to need help for anything at a hospital.
A very sensible piece on what to do and not do now. HT Slate
But as the variant spreads astonishingly quickly, I’ve had to recalibrate my initial reaction to be a bit more cautious. Here’s how I’m thinking about omicron personally and the risk it poses to hospitals like mine—and why I’m ultimately hopeful.
I am still confident that I will fare OK personally if I get the virus. Based on laboratory data from Pfizer and Moderna, and extrapolating from other variants, experts feel that the three-dose regimen likely confers protection against severe disease; one study from the U.K. suggests 80 percent efficacy against infection. Originally, two doses of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines provided 95 percent protection against infection. Another way to look at it is that this spring, vaccinated people were 20 times less likely than unvaccinated ones to get COVID-19. Today, vaccinated people with a booster may be up to five times less likely to get omicron. I imagine the chance I will get COVID at some point is quite high, even with those odds, given how infectious omicron seems to be. I don’t want my infection to be a burden on the system because I have to be replaced at work. While there’s no ideal time to get COVID (kind of like becoming a parent, but less joyful), now seems to be a particularly bad one for me, given the fears of hospital short-staffing nationwide.
I probably will continue to see friends and family indoors in the coming weeks, but I may avoid going to a bar with colleagues until the surge is over; if one of us infects the others, then we’ve knocked out a good chunk of our workforce in one swoop. I will be more careful at work, where I had definitely been letting my guard down (while still masking and hand sanitizing) over the last few months. I will still let my two vaccinated children go to school wearing masks, but I may avoid letting them have sleepovers until the omicron peak has passed. I understand why some vaccinated people want to go about their daily business and may choose to be less cautious than me. After two years of social distancing, lining up to get vaccinated, and doing their part to “flatten the curve,” they might feel it is time to ask: What is the endgame, really? Is it to attempt to avoid getting COVID forever? Or is it to accept that COVID is here to stay, and that we have to learn to live with it?
The answer is a little bit of both. The societal risk from omicron is quite high; hospitals could fill up, even with a small percentage of vulnerable people who will all get sick at once, and health systems will be more likely to be overwhelmed as staff call in sick. There may be a point to essential workers like me flattening our own infection curve to allow us to get through the omicron surge without serious staffing shortages.