As the data emerge, one thing is becoming more clear about the Omicron Variant: it is significantly more infectious and substantially less dangerous. In every Omicron location so far, governments are reporting that the variant is moving swiftly through the population, infecting more people than previous versions of the virus. That’s the bad news. The good news is that the Omicron Variant does not cause as serious an infection as the other variants. In short: you’re more likely to contract it, and much less likely to have serious symptoms.
The only thing I am sure of is that Omicron will spread so quickly through the population, making it likely impossible to contain even with the most stringent measures and giving us very little time over the next few weeks. So get your vaccines and boosters!Dr. Muge Cevik, an infectious-disease expert at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland
Omicron Variant This Week
The CDC released a report last week, outlining the first 43 cases in the U.S. of the new variant and what we know from them. Only about one-third of the cases were in people who had traveled internationally. This is not surprising, but problematic. Meaning, the variant is traveling quickly among the population, and those who had traveled recently were spreading it in their communities. To be fair, it is exceptionally easy to transmit (compared to previous variants).
Multiple countries continue their travel bans, attempting to stem the spread of the Omicron Variant before it gets out of hand. The travel restrictions seem to be slowing the spread, but experts tend to agree that the variant is going to spread throughout the globe rapidly, regardless of travel restrictions. However, it may not be a bad thing.
Some public health experts are theorizing that the Omicron Variant could actually be good in terms of the global pandemic. If a more contagious, less serious version of the virus spreads across enough of the population, it could turn what is a serious threat to many peoples’ health into something a lot more similar to the flu. People die from the flu every year, sadly. But it is not seen as a a global threat. This could be our future.
Immunity From Previous Infections
If you’ve have Covid already, you might be wondering whether you’re less likely to contract the Omicron Variant. The early research indicates that, no, you’re not very protected. This is unfortunate news but important to know. In the majority of Omicron cases, people have been fully vaccinated and in some cases, even boosted.
And what about reinfection? One recent British study estimates that the risk of contracting Omicron a second time is about five times greater. Meaning, the variant results in less natural immunity than previous variants. This is important to know because you cannot assume Omicron will run through the population only once.