Two days ago, I read two articles that still have my mind in a whirl. One stated that Moderna plans to have an Omicron-Specific COVID Booster by August. OK, the threat of infection from Omicron is minor compared to other variants. So why do we need a booster for Omicron?

Moderna tells us that a booster will be needed, but they do not know if it will be their existing vaccine, an omicron-only vaccine, or one that is a combination of the two. They expect to decide after more clinical data is available in several months – probably August at the earliest.

They also promised that this new booster would protect simultaneously against the COVID-19 virus, seasonal influenza, and other respiratory diseases. Let me be clear in my thoughts at this moment.

Moderna has a COVID-19 vaccine, a temporary shot that prevents infection from the pandemic virus for around four to six months. We have not cured seasonal influenza with flu shots. And respiratory illness deaths are in the top ten (actually #6) of all deaths annually.

That is quite a bold statement to make – a new vaccine that they do not know what it will be composed of yet and will address our pandemic virus and other serious health concerns. Am I the only one who thinks this might be a bit too much to chew off at this time?

Omicron Status Worldwide, the Omicron panic is dying down – significantly dying down. It peaked in late January with just under three and a half million new cases daily. This week, the seven-day average of new cases/day is under 1.9 million. Daily deaths lag new case statistics by a couple of weeks. The trend of daily deaths is starting to fall noticeably.

The Omicron variant was detected in South Africa around Thanksgiving of 2020, and new cases skyrocketed very quickly. A week before Omicron was causing havoc, South Africa was experiencing around 500 new cases of coronavirus daily. By mid-December, the new daily case rate from the Omicron variant was just under 24,000. This week the numbers are stabilizing around 2,500 new cases/day.

Daily deaths in South Africa were in the low double digits before Omicron. It appears to be reaching its peak at around 200/day. Again, daily deaths lag new cases by about two weeks. New cases in South Africa rose by 48 times, and daily deaths have risen only ten times.

The Delta variant infection time lasted four times longer than the Omicron variant and never reached Omicron’s peak. However, the daily deaths are less than half that attributed to the Delta variant.

Second Article .It is estimated that nearly three-quarters of Americans now have naturally acquired immunity to the Omicron variant. Statisticians estimate that that percentage could rise to eight out of ten Americans in another month.

I remember the early prognostications for herd immunity. Some thought as few as 65% could be enough to thwart the further spread of the virus. Estimates were then ratcheted up to 85% as new variants arrived.

So, we are at (or near) 75% and moving on nicely to nearly 80% shortly. Does that mean (or not) that America is approaching herd immunity? Probably, but no one is talking about it. Our current vaccines are worthless against Omicron for two reasons. One is that their shelf life has expired, and the protection afforded during the first couple of months is less than 50% today. The second reason given for so many infections from Omicron is that the vaccine was designed against the original strain of SARS-CoV-2.

The Alpha and Bravo variants did not differ much from the original configuration, and the vaccine was effective. The Delta variant snuck in just as the expiration date of the original vaccine shots wore off. Devastation and high deaths followed – even with those fully vaccinated. Then, Omicron entered the picture, and booster shots have not helped.

The article states that herd immunity is no longer an option because there will be new variants. Yet nearly 80% of the population now, or will have shortly, naturally acquired immunity. It appears to me that everyone is still on the bandwagon that only vaccines can prevent forest fires – sorry, can prevent future infections.

Current infections and hospitalizations are still being blamed on the unvaccinated – even though in many cases the majority of hospitalizations are classified as breakthrough cases. They are not being reported that way. One would think it would be easy to determine how many people are unvaccinated in the United States.

I searched several websites and found lots of information blaming high hospital costs on the unvaccinated. I also found many reasons why people choose not to get vaccinated. But it was nearly impossible to find a discrete number of how many people are still not vaccinated.

Could it be that no one knows? When the Omicron variant blew through everyone, no matter whether vaccinations were recent or over six months old, infection rates burst through the ceiling. Many have contracted the pandemic virus and never had symptoms. I am confident that a few with very mild symptoms never got tested to determine whether they were positive for the coronavirus.

So, where does that leave us today? Unfortunately, I think we are still being led by the blind. The Mayo Clinic statistics show that the fully vaccinated rate for the United States was 61.3% in December. Today, it is 64.3% – a three percent increase in two months. Similar statistics are shown for those with only one vaccine shot – currently at 76%.

Vaccines are the only thing that can get us out of this pandemic, lower hospital costs, and reduce deaths. Nearly three out of four have at least one vaccine shot. And about three out of four have had COVID-19 (Omicron variant). What does that mean?

Only one-quarter of Americans might be unvaccinated – and that number might be very accurate. However, probably three-quarters of the unvaccinated have naturally acquired immunity from being infected with the Omicron variant. In addition, some people were fortunate to be protected from Omicron infection because of recent vaccine shots and boosters. So, could it really mean that at least 90% of Americans have some level of protection against the pandemic virus?

Conclusion Omicron is waning, and the number of new cases is almost to pre-Omicron levels. The number of daily deaths is declining significantly. I have opined several times that the Omicron variant might be the light at the end of the tunnel – the sound of hoofbeats approaching. It is a highly infectious variant that does not overwhelm the health care system and produces fewer deaths/new cases than any other variant.

By the time Omicron has run its course, a new variant might be headline material. Will it be more deadly? Who knows, we will be told that it is more prudent to treat it as if it were – stay in masks and social distance. However, if we (all) have naturally acquired immunity, should we worry about getting infected?

It is a tricky question to answer because no one knows that answer. Why is every other disease that we have naturally acquired immunity enough to prevent future infections, and this disease is different?

Live Longer & Enjoy Life! – Red O’Laughlin –

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