The net effect of the global Omicron wave is that millions are poised to contract a version of COVID that will leave them with natural immunity at the cost of some cold-like symptoms
As Omicron continues to surge through global populations with unprecedented speed, health officials in one of the world’s harder-hit countries are already sounding a note of optimism that the variant could spell humanity’s deliverance from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“(Omicron) may be what is going to lift us out of the pandemic, so that this becomes the last wave of corona,” Tyra Grove Krause, technical director with Denmark’s Statens Serum Institut (SSI), told the country’s TV2 broadcaster on Monday.
Last week, Denmark was posting the world’s highest rate of COVID-19 infections , with roughly one in every 60 Danes nursing an active case of the disease.
While the Danish health-care system is still bracing for Omicron hospitalizations to peak in mid-January, Krause argued that the uniquely mild variant is poised to infect so many Danes in the coming days that it will impart a kind of herd immunity shielding the country from future variants.
Within two months, said Krause, “I hope the infection will start to subside and we get our normal lives back.”
Early data from around the world has indeed shown Omicron as a version of COVID-19 that is both incredibly transmissible and significantly milder than earlier variants.
A report this week from Krause’s SSI, for instance, found that Danes are up to half as likely to be hospitalized with an Omicron infection as compared to one contracted during the earlier Delta wave. That’s almost identical to new numbers from Public Health Ontario showing Omicron patients to be 54 per cent less at risk from death or hospitalization as compared to earlier variants.
However, the researchers behind both those reports also warn that Omicron continues to pose a threat to the world’s health-care systems due to its raw transmissibility: Even a virus with significantly lower hospitalization rates can overwhelm emergency rooms if it’s infecting tens of thousands per day.
As Krause warned on Monday, “Omicron will still be able to put pressure on our health-care system.”
Nevertheless, the net effect of the global Omicron wave is that millions are poised to contract a version of COVID-19 that will leave them with natural immunity at the cost of only a few days of cold-like symptoms.
“When (the Omicron wave) is over, we’re in a better place than we were before,” read the SSI’s latest report into Danish Omicron numbers.
It’s a best-case scenario for the Omicron wave that has been posited since the first days after the variant’s discovery in South Africa. Angelique Coetzee is the South African physician who first identified the new variant in late November, and has similarly touted it as humanity’s ticket out of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Omicron could potentially be of great help to us — which is certainly not something you could say about the Delta variant,” she wrote in a Dec. 13 op-ed for the U.K.’s Daily Mail.
Coetzee suggested that the herd immunity offered by Omicron could end up being such a game-changer in the global fight against COVID-19 that health officials should seriously consider whether the variant’s spread should even be checked.
“The next variant that comes along might be slower spreading but more severe, and so we will need all the help we can get from such natural immunity,” she wrote.
In mid-December, just as Omicron began to gain a significant toehold on the United States, research out of the Oregon Health and Science University suggested that the coming wave of Omicron-led breakthrough infections would sow a kind of “super-immunity” throughout the populace.
“I think this speaks to an eventual end game,” study co-author Marcel Curlin said in an official statement . “Our study implies that the long-term outcome is going to be a tapering-off of the severity of the worldwide epidemic.”
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‘This too shall pass away’ this famous Persian adage seems to be defeating us again and again in the case of COVID-19. Despite every effort