Health reporter writes ‘Five things about Omicron that I want my friends and family to know’

Dan Diamond, a health reporter for The Washington Post, recently posted a Facebook thread about the Omicron variant of the coronavirus. It went viral, so he turned it into a story for the newspaper. He makes five points:

For the unvaccinated, Omicron might not be mild: “Reports of it being ‘milder’ appear mostly based on the generally mild breakthrough cases in vaccinated and previously infected people. If you’ve been vaccinated and boosted, there’s reason to expect your omicron infection will lead to minimal symptoms. If you haven’t previously been infected, and you haven’t been vaccinated, there’s no reason yet to expect a ‘mild’ case.”
Daniel Ryan of Washington, D.C., wore a surgical mask
under a cloth mask early this year to provide greater
protection. (Washington Post photo by Sarah Voisin)

Brace yourself for a positive test: Omicron is one of the most contagious viruses ever found, so “Many, many people who are vaccinated or previously infected are going to test positive in the next few weeks . . . While earlier forms of the virus got stopped at your body’s front door if you were ‘fully vaccinated’ or previously infected, omicron can get inside. Still, vaccines and boosters hold the power to defang the worst consequences of omicron and fight off infections. It’s possible that some folks reading this have omicron right now and don’t know it because their immune system is doing such a good job containing the infection and the symptoms are small or nonexistent.”

This variant is exactly what boosters are for: Booster shots of a vaccine bring “your antibodies back to a level where there are enough of them, like bouncers at a club, to often keep omicron from getting inside.” They are one of the best defenses against the Omicron variant.
Hospitals will be pushed to their limits: New coronavirus cases are already setting records, and health experts say new records will keep getting set well into January. “Even if only a small percentage of those people need hospital care, it will tax a health system that is already straining under pandemic fatigue and treating cases linked to the older Delta variant. It’s also going to be a psychological blow after the past two years of fighting the pandemic, and businesses, families and others will surely be racing to adjust plans.”

Upgrade your mask and think twice about taking risks. This month will be crucial. 
“The next month in America could rival the worst days of the pandemic, as a sheer wave of cases crashes into our country. Every expert I spoke to is cutting back on scheduled plans, and several urged: Don’t take risks that could land you in a doctor’s office or hospital emergency room at a moment when demand on our health-care system is going to surge. . . . I’m going to make sure I’ve always got a high-quality mask with me to navigate crowds and indoor spaces. Even if infections are inevitable, I don’t want to help omicron along, especially until we get more data in the coming weeks. And I don’t want to unwittingly get sick and carry an infection to family members this holiday season.”

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