As the omicron variant makes its way through southeast Texas, we’re learning more about how it’s impacting people, including how quickly booster effectiveness is fading.
Dr. Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine said there are many breakthrough cases right now because it appears the COVID-19 booster protection fades against the omicron variant. The protection goes from 75% protection from symptomatic cases to 35% in just three months.
“There is a good possibility you will get a breakthrough symptomatic infection with COVID,” Hotez explained. “The good news is, the overwhelming number of those cases are not severe. You’ll have some comfort knowing it’s highly unlikely you’ll require hospitalization for COVID.”
Knowing this, Hotez said the next few weeks could put a strain on the hospital systems. He said many health care workers could test positive for COVID.
“With so much omicron going around, my biggest concern are the doctors, nurses and staff of hospitals in the Texas Medical Center, and our surrounding area, who have to call out sick,” Hotez explained.
PLAN, TESTS, AND HEALTH CARE WORKER PROTECTION IS WHAT EXPERTS WANT TO HEAR FROM PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN
On Tuesday, Pres. Joe Biden will address the country about his plan to handle the omicron variant. On Monday, administration leaders said it won’t be a lockdown plan, but a warning to unvaccinated individuals.
Hotez wants to hear Biden lay out a plan on making testing more readily available, especially at-home kits. He also wants to hear more about how the president plans to protect health care workers.
Some studies have suggested the omicron variant may not be as dangerous as previous variants, including delta, however, Hotez said he isn’t convinced.
“I’d be careful about extrapolating that our situation here in the U.S. I don’t think we really know that,” Hotez said. “There are reasons to believe it could be as serious as some of the previous variants.”
Hotez said they’re also working to determine the impact on kids.
“We’re seeing with omicron and South Africa and Europe, we’re seeing a lot of pediatric hospitalizations as well and that’s something we’re going to be looking out for,” Hotez said.
WHEN WILL THE PANDEMIC COME TO AN END?
Recently, Pfizer’s CEO suggested the pandemic may not end until 2024. Hotez said it’s not a good idea to put a timeline on it as new variants can emerge.
He adds the way to beat the virus is to vaccinate the globe as quickly as possible.
“If we can really take steps to vaccinate the world, I think we’ll be in a much better position to not necessarily just throw up our hands and say we have to live with this virus,” Hotez said.
As for COVID being a virus we have to live with, Hotez said that may not be the case.
“Not necessarily. There are viruses that come and go and don’t return for a period of years as well,” Hotez explained. “I think there are a lot of possible scenarios. For instance, we don’t know how long this omicron wave will last. Some are saying a matter of weeks. Some are saying we don’t know, it could linger on for quite a while.”