Monday, December 13, 2021

If you think that Omicron is just another variant...

If you were in any doubt as to just how virulent the new Omicron variant of COVID-19 is, then a recent article in The Guardian should put those doubts to rest:

  • 80 out of 111 guests at a party at a restaurant in Norway contracted the virus, most of them the Omicron variant, despite them all being double vaccinated and having tested negative in a rapid test before the event (what they were thinking having such a large indoor event at times like these is an open question).
  • All 7 of a group of German tourists who travelled to South Africa came down with the Omicron variant, despite double vaccinations AND a booster shot (again, why go to South Africa, of all places?)
  • 17 out of 21 attendees at a "night out" in Britain caught the virus, despite vaccinations and boosters (sigh! - 21 lads having a "night out": why?)

These are just anecdotal reports, of course, but the fact that the Omicron variant is spreading so rapidly (the reproduction number for Omicron stands at 4.1, compared to 1.32 for other variants, leading to case numbers doubling every two or three days), and establishing itself as the dominant variant so conclusively, suggests that we should be treating it very seriously. And maybe quit with the large parties? 

Admittedly, symptoms of the new variant seem to be relatively mild in the main (although there is some controversy about even that claim), but some of the people contracting it will have other co-morbidities, and the more cases that run wild, the more new variants are likely to arise, some of which may not be so benign. And, anyway, never forget that the Omicron variant can still kill.

The next few months are going to see high, probably record, cases, both here and everywhere else, regardless of our stellar vaccination rollout and any other public health measures we care to throw at it. Some people are taking solace from the fact the South Africa's Omicron cases are maybe starting to dwindle, possibly suggesting a relatively short wave. But South Africa is a very different place from Canada, particularly in the numbers of people who have already contracted the virus, so nothing is a given. Buckle up for a bumpy ride.

No comments: