J. Harris: Just a quick word and some new information from the British.The new Covid numbers are up our area, but the hospital admissions are not increased. We are likely testing more, finally, as well. These new cases may be Omicron as well as Delta. I would avoid crowds and wear your masks, wash hands, keep distance and the like. Vaccination with 3 jabs helps considerably, but not completely. The state numbers are somewhat confusing, so I’m going with the NYT who seem to be doing better stats at this time (and are probably getting them from Hopkins) It appears Omicron may be less lethal than Delta, but should be avoided. Don’t try to catch it. The Omicron symptoms may only seem like a bad cold, but STAY AWAY from GRANDMA if you get sick.
”…the study, published by British government scientists on Friday, also indicated that third vaccine doses provided considerable defense against Omicron…Four months after people received a second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, the shots were roughly 35 percent effective in preventing symptomatic infections caused by Omicron, a significant drop-off from their performance against the Delta variant, the scientists found.A third dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, though, lifted the figure to roughly 75 percent… Omicron is managing to spread [easily]. Someone infected with the Omicron variant, for example, is roughly three times as likely as a person infected by the Delta variant to pass the virus to other members of his or her household…a close contact of an Omicron case is roughly twice as likely as a close contact of someone infected with Delta to catch the virus…Even if Omicron causes [less] severe illness [for example] at only half the rate of the Delta variant… computer modeling suggested that 5,000 people could be admitted to hospitals daily in Britain at the [anticipated] peak of its Omicron wave — a figure [that would be] higher than any seen [previously] at any other point in the pandemic…”
”Forty-three infections with the Omicron variant were identified in 22 states during the first eight days of December, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported on Friday, offering a first glimpse of the variant’s course in the United States.
One individual, who was vaccinated, required a brief hospital stay, and there were no deaths. The most common symptoms were cough, fatigue and congestion or a runny nose. The first cases appeared to be mild, but the report warned that “as with all variants, a lag exists between infection and more severe outcomes.”
Omicron, which has been deemed a variant of concern, is believed to be even more transmissible than the Delta variant, which continues to account for virtually all coronavirus infections in the United States.
The actual number of Omicron cases is almost certainly higher, but to what extent is uncertain. The country initiated enhanced genomic surveillance on Nov. 28 in order to increase the detection of Omicron, and an average of 50,000 to 60,000 coronavirus-positive specimens are now being sequenced every week.
The new variant contains mutations that may make it somewhat resistant to available treatments and to the body’s immune defenses, experts say.
Young adults under the age of 40 accounted for most of the Omicron cases. The majority — 34 individuals, representing 79 percent of the total — were fully vaccinated when they had their first symptoms or tested positive.
Fourteen of these people had received a booster dose before their diagnoses, and six had previously been infected with the coronavirus.
About one-third of those infected with Omicron had traveled internationally in the two weeks prior to testing positive or developing symptoms, indicating that the variant is spreading locally in communities, the report said.
The Omicron cases were found all over the country, including Hawaii, Washington State, California, Texas and Minnesota, as well as in more than a half-dozen states on the East Coast, including Florida, New York, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts.
The C.D.C. report predicted additional Omicron infections, transmitted in November, will be discovered in the coming days.
“Even if most infections are mild, a highly transmissible variant could result in enough cases to overwhelm health systems,” the authors warned. “The clinical severity of infection with the Omicron variant will become better understood as additional cases are identified and investigated.”
Experts are urging Americans to get vaccinated and to continue to practice precautions: wearing masks, improving ventilation in closed spaces, getting tested and going into quarantine, or isolation, if needed to slow transmission.
—by Roni Caryn Rabin
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