According to top US scientist Anthony Fauci, the new Covid-19 variety Omicron is not worse than previous strains, and may even be gentler.
The chief medical advisor to President Joe Biden divided the knowns and unknowns concerning Omicron into three categories: transmissibility, evasion of prior infection and vaccine immunity, and sickness severity.
It’s “certainly very transmissible,” Fauci says, “perhaps more so than Delta, the present global dominating strain.”
Global epidemiological data shows Omicron re-infection rates are greater.
Professor Anthony Fauci, the NIAID’s longtime director, said lab tests to assess the potency of current vaccine antibodies against Omicron should be completed “within a week.”
“It’s almost definitely not more serious than Delta,” Fauci said.
According to some South African cohorts, the ratio of infections to hospitalizations is lower than in Delta.
But, he warned, the data should not be interpreted too broadly because the populations being monitored were young and less hospitalized.
“I think that’s going to take a few weeks at least in South Africa,” he said.
“As more illnesses spread over the world, determining severity may take longer.”
The “best-case scenario,” according to Fauci, is a more transmissible virus that doesn’t cause more severe sickness, hospitalizations, or fatalities.
If it is highly transmissible and produces severe disease, it can cause a second wave of infections that are not necessarily dulled by the vaccination or people’s earlier infections, he warned.
“I don’t think the worst will happen, but you never know.”
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