I wanted to provide you all an update on what we know (and don’t know) with the current COVID19 pandemic. As you have all heard, we have a new Omicron variant in the mix that was recently announced to be the main circulating virus type.
We are learning more information each day but wanted to provide your our sense of what is going on and what we can expect:
What’s going on right now?
- We have been in a second surge of Delta variant and have seen an increase of positive cases in our patients and in our community over the past few weeks.
- It is unclear how much the Omicron variant is spreading in our community, as testing for the specific strain has a 2-week delay. However, we can assume that >50% of new cases are likely the Omicron variant at this point.
What we know about the Omicron variant:
- It appears to have a ~4x higher transmission rate than the previous variants.
- It seems to cause less severe disease than Delta variant (i.e. less need for a ventilator, shorter hospital stay).
- Full Vaccination (3 mRNA series or J&J + mRNA booster) seems to remain very effective at slowing transmission and reducing severe disease.
- Incomplete vaccination (<3 mRNA vaccines or J&J x 1) likely carries less effective immune protection against Omicron.
What can we expect in the months ahead?
We will likely see a much higher number of cases per day due to the high transmission. Estimates suggest up to 1,000,000 new US cases per day in January-February.
Due to the high case rate, we will still see a rise in hospitalizations and deaths but, hopefully, not to the same severity of the Delta variant.
We will likely see increased breakthrough cases, especially in populations with incomplete vaccination and those with only natural immunity.
My thoughts on pandemic fatigue/fear/anger:
We are all experiencing some level of pandemic fatigue, including me. We all want this to be over and to not worry about it anymore. But we have to remember that this virus is not tired of us. Pandemic fatigue only prolongs the problem and puts unnecessary risk and strain on our communities and hospital systems. We should also not swing over into pandemic fear or pandemic anger, other commonly seen responses that are not good for our health and not productive for progress. The best way to avoid these emotional traps is to maintain kindness, empathy, and to remember what’s most important — to love and protect those around us.
Our community & our country depend on each of you.
We want and deserve a peaceful and joyous time with friends and family this Holiday season. Social connection and celebration are vital to our mental and physical wellbeing and something we all desperately need.
From all of us at Wild Health Asheville:
We appreciate the trust that you have given us in 2021 and look forward to helping you achieve better health in 2022
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!
Troy Jackson, MD