There is a myth going around that Omicron is mild. We need to address this myth now.
The fact is Omicron is not mild. We know this because:
- For every 100 new Omicron infections that happen, it will create 332 new (or secondary) infections. Compared to other variants, 100 new infections create 127 other infections.
- The doubling time, which is the amount of time it takes for cases to double, for Omicron in Ontario is expected to be every 3 days, faster than any other variant.
- Omicron will replace the Delta variant as the main strain in Ontario by the end of the month.
Omicron is serious and spreading quickly. As a result of how serious Omicron is:
- Ontario is urgently increasing mass vaccination programs;
- Plans are being made to deal with the scenario where up to 10,000 people or more are testing positive for the virus each day;
- Contact tracing will overwhelm public health in the coming 1-2 weeks;
- Our health care systems are at a serious risk of being overwhelmed by people who are unvaccinated or under vaccinated (those who have not received 2 doses and a booster); and
- A large percentage of the essential workforce could be forced to isolate after being exposed.
The next 1-2 months are going to be challenging. But, there are things we can do NOW to stay safe.
One of the most important things you can do is get vaccinated or get ‘boosted’. Vaccines are now available for everyone over the age of 5 and appointments for all ages are available throughout the coming weeks. Two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine seem to provide robust protection from omicron, but protection decreases over time – this is why boosters are important. The unprecedented spread (or transmissibility) of Omicron means that even those with two doses are at a considerable risk of infection. Because of this, booster shots, or third doses, are important to keep the body’s response to COVID-19 strong. Get your booster dose as soon as you can when you’re eligible.
Additional measures to stay safe:
- Reduce your contacts;
- Work from home, if possible;
- Wear a well-fitting mask (for tips from the CDC, see here);
- Air out spaces;
- Avoid crowded places;
- Wash your hands and use hand-sanitizer; and
- Maintain 2 metres physical distancing from those you do not live with.
There is no time to wait. Vaccines offer the best protection we have available. They decrease the likelihood of getting infected and significantly reduce your risk of having a severe outcome such as hospitalization, ICU stay or death.
Dr. Peter Jüni, Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table. https://toronto.ctvnews.ca/ontario-needs-to-address-myth-that-omicron-is-mild-head-of-science-table-says-1.5705025; https://www.instagram.com/p/CXdQzQvL5Jy/
Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table. Ontario Dashboard. https://covid19-sciencetable.ca/ontario-dashboard/