You should get a vaccine and a booster shot. Unless you want it.

The Omicron coronaviruses variant is racing around the globe after being uncovered a month ago.

The Omicron was designated the fifth variant of concern by the World Health Organization and the US government. More than 75 countries have reported cases caused by the variant, which is marked by around 50 mutations total. It was discovered in two countries last month.

The director-general of the World Health Organization said that Omicron is probably in most countries. The variant caused 3% of US COVID cases in the last week, most strikingly in New York and New Jersey, where it caused 13% of cases.

Omicron is one of the most contagious pathogens on the planet, with increases in cases in the UK and South Africa. Surges should happen in the US and around the world. We need more information on how to prevent disease progression. We have reason to be concerned.
The date is 16 December 2021.

When the discovery of Omicron was first announced, scientists and health officials warned us not to panic, as it would take weeks to know how Omicron would change the game.

Three weeks have passed since the WHO announcement. In that time, a lot of scientific analyses and case reports have answered some early questions about the variant, while leaving others, like where it picked up all its mutations, still hanging. Here is a list of what we do and don't know.

Transmissibility is possible.

The Omicron variant's contagiousness was exposed at a Christmas party in Norway. A report by the Norwegian Institute of Public Health concludes that the variant is the most likely culprit, as 80 people came down with COVID-19 after attending the party. More than 60 other people got sick after eating at the same restaurant.

Natalie Dean said the capacity for superspreading events is extraordinary.

The Omicron variant may be more likely to attack the mouth, nose, and throat, the initial beachhead of an infection. A University of Hong Kong study released on Wednesday suggests that Omicron is 70 times faster to spread in cells than the Delta variant now dominates worldwide.

Dean said that they are seeing patterns overseas that point to things getting worse. The Delta variant of Omicron cases doubled once every two weeks, according to the CDC. The United Kingdom's Health Security Agency predicts that Omicron cases will reach parity with Delta cases by the middle of the month. The new variant has caused more than 70% of cases in London.

This is a chart showing daily cases by specimen date in London, broken down by variant.
The date is 15 December 2021.

The US is expected to see a similar increase in Omicron cases, starting with New York and then to other well- traveled cities. The variant has already spread within the US despite travel bans meant to buy time. The first 43 US cases reported by the CDC were mostly people who had traveled overseas. He thinks a winter surge is inevitable for the US.

Dean said that she was seeing relatives this weekend and that she might have to button down soon. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suggested that January might see a peak of cases in the US.

The US is still in the midst of an increasing Delta surge, with an average of 1,200 people dying of COVID-19 a day. According to federal data, 79% of the intensive care beds are occupied, and many hospitals are already reporting they are over stressed.

Scientists warn that nothing good can come of a variant with the speed that Omicron appears to have.

There are vaccines.

According to the investigation of the incident, the majority of the people at the Norwegian Christmas party were fully vaccined. 34 of the first 43 US cases were fully vaccine free and 14 received a booster or extra shot.

Fauci said that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines only look around 33% effective against Omicron. A British study found that the vaccine used worldwide is not effective. People with vaccines are less active against Omicron than other people. It is seen as protective against first catching the virus.

The immune system is not the only defense against COVID-19. The vaccines appear to have strengthened the immunity of the body. The good news about vaccines is that they are still effective against severe disease and hospitalization even though they don't prevent contracting Omicron. The J&J shot appears to be the same as the more widely used ones.

The White House's Pandemic Czar said that if you are a vaccine patient, you could test positive, but if you get Covid, your case will be mild.

A booster shot seems to restore most of the vaccine's protection against infections after a week or more. Only about 40% of eligible adults in the US have received a booster.

The disease's severity.

The Omicron virus may be more likely to produce mild cases of disease. These preliminary findings have serious questions to answer. The first question is: Are they true? Evidence from South Africa suggested that the variant led to less hospitalizations and more oxygen use in the hospital. Most of the Omicron patients at the Steve Biko/Tshwane District Hospital Complex came in for problems other than COVID-19.

Younger people are more likely to have mild illness from the coronaviruses, and in South Africa they are more likely to have had previous infections, which offer some protection against serious disease. The same applies to prior vaccinations. Three-quarters of the Omicron cases reported by the Danes were vaccine or boosted, with only one case in the intensive care unit. It's not clear whether the variant or the vaccine caused the low severe illness rate.

This is part of a bigger problem in assessing the severity of disease caused by Omicron: It will reinfect more people with some immunity, either from vaccines or past infections, than with any prior variant, noted a report out this week from Harvard's William Hanage and his colleague,

The hospitalization and deaths typically lag behind initial case reports by about two to three weeks, making any initial assumptions about a variant that has only been loose in the world for a few weeks naive.

Walensky cast doubt on the milder disease idea for a number of reasons. She said that they have seen cases of Omicron among people who are both vaccine-munching and boosted.

The second question is whether it matters, even if Omicron produces more mild cases on average, in a rapidly doubling surge the variant could still produce enough severe cases to overwhelm already-stressed US hospitals.

In the US, Israel, and Europe, there is a strong relationship between overcrowded hospitals and high death rates. This is raising concerns of a terrible January surge in states where the number of vaccinations is low and hospitals are already strained.

There is a winter of severe illness and death for the unvaccinated. Get vaccinations.

Please check back for more updates.

More on this.