Saturday, December 04, 2021

Some Early Signs

We're beginning to see some early signs of what OMICRON can do.  Bruce Arthur writes:

Omicron appears to be extraordinarily transmissible. Cases in South Africa are doubling every two to three days. [Dr. Peter] Juni, the scientific director of Ontario’s independent volunteer science table, says if first-wave COVID had a basic reproduction number of 3 — meaning one case created three more, on average — then Alpha was a 4.5, and Delta is a 7, Omicron appears to be in the 10-15 range, meaning one case can cause 10 to 15 cases with no safety measures. A Christmas party in Oslo resulted in more than half of a fully vaccinated room getting infected. Measles, for the record, is a 12-18, and is so infectious that you could catch it standing in the same room.

 Nonetheless, vaccination is the best tool we have to deal with it:

Vaccination remains our best tool, from what experts can discern. Juni has been going over data with South African colleagues and the table all week. And on the most central point, Juni is cautiously hopeful.

“The preliminary data we have clearly points towards that the protection against hospital admission continues with full vaccination also for Omicron,” said Juni. “The data on vaccination is limited: we have vaccination status of those admitted, so it’s incomplete data, right? But it’s a very clear pattern. So I believe even if the data to a certain extent are biased, we will continue to see what they’re seeing and you know, the data right now are accumulating on a daily basis.”

A lot hangs on how virulent Omicron will be. There are anecdotal stories of milder symptoms from South Africa, which is worth hoping for. But unless Omicron is much less virulent than Delta — perhaps 10 times less in the unvaccinated, according to Juni — the increase in transmission rate would likely swamp Ontario hospitals, in the absence of other public health measures.

This is no time to abandon public health measures -- regardless of what certain people tell you.

Image:  CNBC


Lorne said...

At least we are better at this than the Americans, Owen. According to the Star's Edward Keenan, only six states have mask mandates.

Owen Gray said...

I'm flummoxed by what is happening there, Lorne. Enforced ignorance.

The Disaffected Lib said...

Covid-19 is a rapidly moving target, morphing from one variant to the next. With each new arrival the science types focus on two main concerns - transmissibility and lethality. So far, transmissibility has dominated the conversation, at least in the media. Covid is no ebola but, if this is to be our "forever" virus, endlessly shape-shifting and defying any "cure" then it is conceivable that a real "killer" variant may eventually emerge, something that combines lethality with vaccine resistence. What then?

I can't see modern, "just in time" economies weathering this endlessly. At a political level this is just another potentially grave threat to be kicked down the road, passed on to the next guy. Is the tenor of modern politics even capable of dealing with issues at this level?

There is much debate about mandatory vaccination but is that really different to enforcing blackout regulations during the height of the Blitz on London?

Owen Gray said...

We still don't understand, Mound, that we have to do "what is required."

Anonymous said...

Following up on Mound's point, my mother in law who passed away last year but not from COVID-19 was a survivor of the London Blitz. Two years ago my wife and I were in Malta and we visited the tunnels where the citizens had to live with the consistent bombings from the Axis for 150+ straight days. The anti maskers, anti vaxxers and COVID deniers are pathetic people who have no idea of hardships. Their selfish attitudes would have got them killed had they been alive in those times. I have to say I've lost faith in many of my fellow humans. I've been expecting the pandemic to take 3-5 years to subside thanks to our fellow narcissistic deniers, yet we are in it for the long haul and will do what's necessary to avoid getting sick. We have my parents who are well into their 80s with us and I'm not about to endanger their health.

mr perfect

Owen Gray said...

Enduring hardship is nothing new, perfect. But, apparently, there are those among us who think hardship is new and unacceptable.