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Omicron is milder, but scientists say it’s still too soon to relax


An advisory sign reminding passengers to use a mask on their faces to keep Covid-19 from spreading appears to have been posted to a bus at First Street, just outside of the U.S. Capitol Monday 10 January 2022.

CQ-Roll Call, Inc. | CQ-Roll Call, Inc. | Getty Images

Although Covid-19 is a milder form of the disease, experts in infectious diseases have advised that Covid-19 should be avoided by the general public.

As the number of cases continues to rise, many countries have removed or reduced their Covid-related restrictions. This is in addition to increasing vaccination rates. Leaders of several European countries called for the Coronavirus Crisis to shift from pandemic status to endemic. be treated like the seasonal flu.

The U.K. is seeing new cases begin to decrease after December’s record highs. According to reports, the government has begun to scrap the emergency Covid laws and self-isolation requirements. according to The Telegraph.

On Monday, official data showed that 98% (or more) of UK’s population have antibodies to the virus. They can either be vaccinated or they are infected. A little over 80% have received at least two doses Covid vaccinations.

Many agree that Covid is highly transmissible variant of the omicron virus. Chief medical advisor to the White House Dr. Anthony Fauci said that Covid will be found in “just about everyone”. CNN reported last week.

Many scientists still urge the public to prevent infection.

CNBC spoke with Professor Liam Smeeth who is a doctor and the director of London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. He said that although omicron seems inherently milder than it actually is, scientists still don’t have enough information to determine how this highly mutated variant affects vulnerable people.

“If the vulnerable do become quite unwell with omicron — and some of them will — if that all happens at once, if we just let it rip through society, then any health system in the world would get overwhelmed,” he said in a phone call.

“And that is a very, very grim thought — so grim as to be quite terrifying. Although it is clear that most people are not very sick with omicron we do not have any evidence to support that.

Smeeth stated that omicron’s higher transmissibility made it still a risky drug despite the fact that it causes milder symptoms.

He explained that because it is so contagious, there could literally be many millions of people who are very sick at once, and no system for health could handle them all.

“You’ve also got the fact that people are going to be off sick — it doesn’t cause serious illness, but it does cause enough that people need to stay at home [to recover]. And if that happens across the whole of society all at once, even in the space of a few weeks, that means the police are going to struggle, supermarkets aren’t going to open, the health system’s not going to function — there would be pretty big social disruption going on.”

He stated that even though the initial pace is slow, it can still be beneficial.

Public health professionals have also warned about “the risk of”long Covid.” According to the WHO, between 10 and 20% of Covid victims experience persistent symptoms that last for several months after infection. The long-term effects of Covid can be persistent fatigue, headaches, breathing difficulties, and depression.

The U.K. was where Covid isolation time were cut down to five daysSmeeth stated Monday that he believes the government is implementing a “pretty reasonable, gradual stepping back.”

Philip Anyanwu from Cardiff University, School of Medicine noted that people are increasingly perceiving the omicron version as less of a threat to Covid.

“Regardless of it [causing milder symptoms]”I think that we need to continue those measures that helped get us through, particularly wearing face masks and social distancing, as well as frequently washing our hands,” said he via telephone.

He argued it was too soon for the public to stop trying to reduce Covid-related risks, particularly in the winter — the “most crucial period in terms of infectious disease burden.”

Deepti Gurudasani, Senior Lecturer in Epidemiology at Queen Mary University of London said on Twitter that the living with the virus does not mean “doing nothing” or letting “mostly elderly and vulnerable people die.”

“People who wear high-grade masks with good ventilation don’t have to be restrictive, but they can save lots of lives,” she stated.

Are we really saying that we will not even raise a hand to help people who are “old and vulnerable?”

Covid Armageddon: The Risk of Covid

Smeeth cautioned that while there were reasons to remain cautiously optimistic it was too soon to rule out any further surprises.

His statement was, “Everything about history would show you that this variant has been so mutated that there are only few additional mutations it could do. And the history coronaviruses have shown that they often mutate to milder forms on their way to either becoming endemic in societies or simply disappearing entirely.” This does appear to be what is happening. [omicron]This is what it’s going to be. It is very infectious and will be difficult to replace.

Smeeth stated that Covid is “very different to other coronaviruses,” and cautioned that it wouldn’t be wise to rule out a more severe version.

“It could well come up with another variant that causes more severe illness and is more infectious — it really could be Armageddon, it really could be the stuff of science fiction, just like we saw last year.”

Anyanwu said it was too soon to relax completely.

“We know that omicron is more transmissive but not as serious as other variants — but there is no guarantee of what the next variant is going to be,” he said.

One reason omicron has spread to such a large extent is that there was a lack of effective public health measures when it entered the U.K. Instead of being proactive, we were more likely to take a reactive strategy.

He said that people were still suffering from the pandemic, and that it was not too late to return to normalcy.

“Getting rid off all the measures could put us at risk, if any new variant comes in,” he said. It might not be as transmissive as it seems, but could be even more dangerous in terms of the outcomes such death or hospitalization.

Anyanwu warned that it was reasonable for people to adhere to certain measures even if there are many government rules being relaxed.

“In spite of the fact that government restrictions may be removed, people can still decide how they want to live their lives.”