Some people have suggested that the Omicron variant will quickly infect so many people that we will achieve herd immunity against COVID. They are suggesting that might end the pandemic quickly. While it is certainly true that Omicron is spreading like wildfire, the optimistic outcome is far from certain. And the long-term consequences could be worrisome.
The Latest Stats:
You do not have to be a statistician to respect the slope of the latest COVID-19 curves. The Johns Hopkins Resource Center demonstrates that cases have been shooting straight up in the US and the UK, France, Spain, Italy, Argentina, Australia, Germany, Canada, Greece, Switzerland, Portugal, the Netherlands, Belgium, Ireland and Denmark.
People are catching the Omicron variant even if they have been vaccinated and boosted. During the last two weeks, new cases of COVID have tripled. They are due mostly to the Omicron variant.
Many people are still using cloth face masks, if they are using masks at all. Cloth doesn’t cut it when it comes to the Omicron variant. And surgical masks rarely fit snugly. The best strategy is to use a tight fitting N95 or KN95 mask with elastic that fits behind the head rather than around the ears.
Many people have heard that they don’t have to worry because people who catch this version of COVID don’t get terribly sick. That may be true for many of those who are completely vaccinated, but some will still get quite ill. And unvaccinated people are dying. Yesterday, over 2,000 people died from the coronavirus. The daily average of deaths over the last week has been over 1,300. That’s horrific.
Long COVID After the Omicron Variant?
The problem we are really concerned about has to do with long COVID. Even a mild infection with Omicron may have lasting consequences. Long COVID can cause months of misery or even disability. You can read about the details of “post-acute COVID-19 syndrome” (PACS) at this link.
A study in the Journal of Translational Medicine (Dec. 30, 2021) reports that COVID survivors have higher than normal levels of autoantibodies. The investigators tested healthcare workers who had recovered from a COVID-19 infection six months earlier. The autoantibodies that persisted could conceivably cause inflammation of skin, joints and nerve tissue.
Other scientists are concerned that SARS-CoV-2 attacks the brain and may account for the symptoms of brain fog that so many people report after infection. With so many people infected with the Omicron variant, the impact of long COVID could be devastating.
We know that many people still believe COVID isn’t that big a problem. They also think that the Omicron variant is just like a cold or the flu. These folks have not experienced the aftermath of a COVID-19 infection. Even mild infections can have devastating after-effects. Listen to this podcast to understand what it can be like.
We understand that everyone is ready to put COVID behind them. Everyone just wants to get back to “normal.” We would love it if Omicron disappears as quickly as it took over. Some pundits predict that will happen over the next few weeks. Until then, though, we hope you will stay safe.
Share your thoughts about the Omicron variant and/or long COVID in the comment section below. If you have suffered long-term symptoms after catching COVID, please share your experience as well.