Reactions to the new variant range from hyperventilating by panic porn mongers in the media over to dismissing it as the common cold. But what do we actually KNOW so far?
We are, in fact, learning quite a bit already.
We’ve already learned something about how Omicron infects differently than earlier variants, and why that is a point of optimism for those studying it. We’ve learned something important about severity. And we’ve learned something about what a wave looked like in the countries where the Omicron variant first took root.
Omicron hits the lungs differently than earlier variants
Here’s a video explaining studies out of Hong Kong showing that there is a different mechanism of infection with Omicron than with earlier variants.
Instead of doing its damage deep in the smallest parts of the lungs, the alveoli, causing them to fill up with fluid and making breathing difficult, this variant takes up residence in the bronchial tubes, doing its replication there.
Meanwhile, the infection in the lung itself is much lower than earlier variants, which could predict lesser illness severity.
What this means in layman’s terms is this: the complications associated with infection are more likely to be in line with what you might expect from bronchitis than they are from earlier variants, which were more in line with pneumonia. That’s a big deal.
The trade-off is pretty simple. Because it’s not so deep in the lungs, it’s less dangerous. But because it’s replicating further up in the airways than earlier variants, Omicron is also more easily transmissible than its predecessors.
What do these surges look like?
Here is a video comparing the relative surges in Western nations and taking note of the fact that South Africa is already on the downside of its fourth wave of the new variant.
The data from the country suggests the outbreak is fading around a month after it was first detected, while ministers and scientists in the UK are panicking about the impact the wave will have over the coming weeks. —DailyMail
What can we expect in the US?
There has been some talk of the historical life cycle of viruses tending toward variants that spread more easily — but prove less lethal — squeezing out the earlier and more dangerous versions. Could we be seeing this take place with Omicron?
It’s too early to say definitively, but there is room for optimism. For one thing, we see this variant is already displacing Delta in much the same way that Delta displaced earlier variants before it.
The omicron variant has overtaken delta as the dominant coronavirus variant in the United States: As of Friday, more than 73 percent of new cases in the country were caused by omicron, according to data the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention posted Monday.
…For the week ending Dec. 18, the CDC data found that the prevalence of the delta variant fell to just over 26 percent. Delta had been the dominant variant in the U.S. since July. — NBC
What about case rates?
If you watch the opening few minutes of the first video, above, you will see Dr. John Campbell speaking about the cases detected in the UK hospitals, in which he made an interesting observation.
Unlike early waves of COVID where complications like the Cytokine storm or Covid-related pneumonia were sending people to the hospital, doctors in the UK have detected a large percentage of their ‘positive cases’ as people who went to the hospital for something completely unrelated to the virus.
Because there is routine testing, many people who were not showing symptoms, or whose symptoms were mild enough that they didn’t think it worthy of testing have been screened and discovered.
This lines up neatly with the more easily transmitted, but less serious prediction of the earlier point above. It’s not dispositive, yet, but it’s an encouraging sign.
Is this an optimistic message? It sure looks like it. Of course, that won’t stop the people who stand so much to gain by having a public cower in fear from putting the worst possible spin on this, either.
It’s up to you to decide if they’re still worth listening to, or if it’s time to take back control that comes with ownership of your life and move on whether they are ready to do so or not.
The sort of boldness we’ve seen displayed in the ladies whose lives are featured here:
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