What we know about the severity of omicron and possibility of ‘triple whammy’ this winter

John Young:

Judy, there are now confirmed cases of Omicron in at least 36 states.

The CDC estimates that the new variant accounts for about 3 percent of positive cases in the United States.

Dr. Saad Omar is an epidemiologist and director of the Yale Institute for Global Health.

Dr. Omar, thank you very much for being with us.

Given what we know about Omicron, or perhaps more importantly, what we don’t know, how much should people be concerned about it, and how – and should we expect the Omicron to become the dominant strain?

Dr.. Saad Omar, Yale Institute for Global Health: That’s what we know.

We know it is a highly contagious strain. We know that it escapes with immunity, especially with the two doses of the vaccines we use, but we also know that it responds to three doses. So people are better protected with three doses of the vaccine.

What we don’t know is how dangerous it is. So there are two ways to look at risk. You look at the risk on an individual level. There seem to be very early signs that there may be some sort of same or less severity for each injury. But at the population level, if something is contagious, it’s three and a half times more contagious, it still produces more cases of hospitalization.

So I’m going to give you an example, so – from a public health perspective, public health authorities should absolutely be on the alert.

From individual points of view, we have a lot of self-efficacy. We can – we are not powerless in the face of this new alternative. We can graft and boost. We can take other precautions in the interest of public health and personal protection, such as testing before gatherings, including family gatherings, such as wearing masks, such as having good ventilation, etc.

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