Monday, December 20, 2021

The Omicron Surge

Seems like it's time to start worrying seriously about COVID numbers again, doesn't it? And getting serious about precautions. Again. I've gotten lax about washing my hands when I get home. We all still wear masks indoors here in Oregon -- haven't stopped since March 2020, and compliance is near 100% around here, in blue Oregon.

You hear that the omicron variant is more contagious but causes a less serious illness than the delta variant, but I am doubting that. After reading this excellent NPR article, it seems that conclusion was based on a large South African study where most participants had some prior exposure to COVID and thus had built up some natural immunity. That's unlikely to be the case in the US and Europe for the unvaccinated. So there may be some big surprises in store for them. As the graph below shows, already Denmark and the UK are getting slammed, highly vaccinated countries you'd think would have a handle on COVID by now. (Admittedly I cherry picked these two countries for their extreme and growing rates. That's the point.) Omicron is surging in the northeast US, and in Washington DC, and hospitals are getting slammed and in some cases at capacity. Check out this Sunday newspaper ad by Cleveland area hospitals. Being vaccinated and boosted, to me that's the scary part -- hospitals being so overwhelmed they can't take care of non-COVID patients who need emergency care or surgeries they have scheduled. (Of course, I'm fear getting COVID, too.) And for that I directly blame the selfish people who refuse to get vaccinated. It's absurd and I simply can't understand their objections, given the consequences of getting the disease and the risk they pose to society. It really seems like something in the water supply has removed rationality from a third of the people in this country. 

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