COVID cases just hit an all-time high in America, topping 267,000 in a day, and virus experts are worried that, despite Omicron appearing “less severe,” COVID is COVID, and with so many people unvaccinated, more hospitalizations and deaths are to come. How can you stay safe? Especially going into the New Year? Dr. Anthony Fauci, the chief medical advisor to the President and the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, appeared at the COVID press briefing moments ago and said how to protect yourself—and where to not go right now. Read on for 5 life-saving pieces of advice—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don’t miss these Sure Signs You’ve Already Had COVID.
Cancel your New Year’s plans if they involve a big party. “Similar to what I said for the Christmas holiday, it goes true here. If you were in a situation with a family setting in your home, with family, parents, children, grandparents, and everyone is vaccinated and boosted—although the risk is never zero in anything, the risk is low enough that we feel you should continue to go through with those plans of having a home-related vaccinated, boosted gathering with family and close friends who are also vaccinated and boosted,” said Dr. Fauci. “So it really depends on what your plans are. Should you change or cancel your plans? If your plans are to go to a 40 to 50 person New Year’s Eve party with all the bells and whistles and everybody hugging and kissing and wishing each other a Happy New Year, I would strongly recommend that this year we do not do that.”
“I just want to underscore something that we always talk about when we talk about severity,” said Dr. Fauci. “And that is the issue of transmissibility. We know now incontrovertibly that this is a highly, highly transmissible virus. We know that from the numbers we’re seeing, but I think each individual person throughout this country is now seeing around them. The high degree of transmissibility with regard to immune evasion—we have a number of tests looking at the effect of on the evasion of immunity from monoclonal antibodies, as well as from vaccine-induced antibodies. …However, importantly, the bottom line message here is that boosters bring back up that degree of protection to a level that is approximately what it was before. So boosters are critical in getting our approach to Omicron, to be optimal.”
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Regarding “the severity of disease,” Dr. Fauci said one study showed hospitalizations in South Africa from Omicron were lower versus a prior wave, as were the number of patients who required supplemental oxygen. “The author’s note in that study that the changing clinical threat of SARS-CoV-2 is likely due to the predominantly high level of prior infection. And to some extent, vaccination coverage, since vaccine level is relatively low in the Republic of South Africa.” In the UK… “the risk of presentation to emergency care or hospital admissions with Omicron was 60% of that of Delta. The risk of hospitalization admission alone with Omicron was 40% of that for Delta. These data were fortified by data from Scottish researchers that showed when analyzed, in the Scottish population from November one to December the 19th, preliminary data suggests that is associated with a two thirds reduction in the risk of COVID-19 hospitalization.” However, that doesn’t mean it’s something you want to get. Keep reading for why “we should not become complacent.”
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“The data are encouraging, but in still in many respects preliminary,” said Dr. Fauci. “It is difficult to determine what degree of lesser severity is due to preexisting immunity or the intrinsically lower virulence of Omicron… And so we should not become complacent since our hospital system could still be stressed in certain areas of the country. And so to repeat what we say so often and deserves reemphasis: the risk of severe disease from any circulating variant, including Omicron, is much, much higher for the unvaccinated. And so adults and children who are eligible, get vaccinated and vaccinated people: get the booster when eligible.”
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Follow the public health fundamentals and help end this pandemic, no matter where you live—get vaccinated or boosted ASAP; if you live in an area with low vaccination rates, wear an N95 face mask, don’t travel, social distance, avoid large crowds, don’t go indoors with people you’re not sheltering with (especially in bars), practice good hand hygiene, and to protect your life and the lives of others, don’t visit any of these 35 Places You’re Most Likely to Catch COVID.