Just how dangerous is the COVID Omicron variant?
My guess is still dangerous for high-risk people, meaning it might still kill some, even if it is 4X or 10x less (no one claims to know as yet). How much riskier than RSV or influenza no one can say, but if your chances of getting Omicron are sky-high (yes), it should not be ignored.
For such high-risk persons (with no prior infection), you might want to at least get one jab to give yourself some 'priming'. You are going to have to weigh unknowns (personal risk of infection downsides) vs other unknowns (personal risk of vaccine-induced downsides). No one can weigh those risks for you as an individual (they’d be lying), but unvaccinated infection is not likely to be a winning bet for the high-risk.
New data from South Africa
Even with some new data from South Africa, the picture remains murky.
Perhaps I am expecting too much— we don’t even know for each patient which actual virus variant is active. Along with a ton of other confounders.
The study has several limitations. First, patients’ virus genotyping was not available. The Omicron variant was estimated to be 81% of the variants isolated by November and 95% isolated by December 2021.4 Second, 7% of the patients were still hospitalized as of December 20. Third, patients’ behavior and the profile of admissions could have differed between waves as different national restrictions and lockdowns were implemented. These factors should not have affected urgent admissions. Fourth, patients admitted for COVID-19 could not be differentiated from asymptomatic patients admitted for other diagnoses with an incidental positive test result, and this likely differed between waves, suggested by the lower proportion admitted with respiratory diagnoses in wave 4.
And then we have the following coarsely-defined cohorts:
- Unvaccinated and unexposed to COVID (but maybe past coronavirus exposure).
- Vaccinated and unexposed to COVID — good protection for most.
- Unvaccinated but with natural immunity from a COVID infection — high degree of protection.
- Vaccinated with natural immunity before or after vaccination —very high degree of protection.
Then for all of the above groups, we have other correlative risk factors:
- Time of infection since vaccination and/or prior infection.
- Clinical co-morbidities: obesity, heart disease, diabetes, kidney disease, etc.
- Sub-clinical comorbidities such as Vitamin D deficiency, magnesium deficiency, etc. Generally ignored since no clincal manifestation and thus falsely characterized as “healthy” by the medical establishment—take one look inside Walmart and you betcha.
This looks pretty hard to sort out. I’d bet that we will never really have solid data. At the least, we are not likely to know what we need to know before Omicron races through the population.