BOISE, Idaho — Omicron is the most contagious covid-19 variant to date and millions of people, vaccinated and unvaccinated, are getting it during the current surge.
Dr. Anthony Fauci said in a white house briefing yesterday Omicron will infect "just about everybody" eventually.
While research shows it is milder than other coronavirus variants in most people, Yale's Akiko Iwasaki told Reuters we shouldn't underestimate the virus.
Here are some reasons why:
- Doctors say it's not just a 'bad cold,' especially for unvaccinated people.
- With how widespread this virus is, it means more people will get seriously sick. Experts like Dr. Fauci say sooner or later we'll all be exposed but later is better because we'll have better-targeted vaccines and medicines.
- While some people may get a mild case. It can still be spread to others who may be at high risk of severe sickness. Or it could be passed to children who, depending on their age, may not even qualify for a covid vaccine or booster.
- The potential for "long COVID" and post-viral problems still exists. Earlier coronavirus variants sometimes led to lingering and often debilitating symptoms for months, even if people didn't get that sick initially. Iwasaki says, we still don't know the "long-term effects" of Omicron. There's no data yet on the percentage of people with omicron who end up becoming "long haulers."
"One of the biggest reasons we tried avoiding getting COVID for two years is the impact on our health care system," said Columbia University professor David Ho to Reuters.
Hospitals are overwhelmed with a record number of patients, and a record number of staff members are out with COVID. Hospitals all over the U.S. are postponing non-covid related surgeries and treatments again. Also, COVID treatments are in short supply, so the fewer sick people the better.
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