Science shows Covid including Omicron is Really Not the Flu

Some of the science showing Covid including Omicron is a huge issue; and one that looks set to be with us a long time.

Two years – and counting! – into the pandemic, there’s still too much nonsense re Covid being no big deal, “just the flu”, or even a common cold. Also notions Omicron is “mild”, nothing to worry about and should let rip.

Anyone cherishing such beliefs might like to read, say, articles like Majority of Covid misinformation came from 12 people, report finds and How the Koch Network Is Spreading COVID Misinformation. Might even suggest: do your own research, and don’t be a sheeple.

Fat chance, of course. It seems people ensnared by Covid conspiracy theories come to really cherish their beliefs, and hold fast to them as tightly as Gollum tried clutching his “Precious”. Can’t be dislodged, even by actual facts [somehow these can be countered; or simply ignored, move on to some other conspiracy “disinfo” perhaps while complaining of strawmen or whatever.

Anyhoo… Perhaps still worth sharing some of the science showing Covid including Omicron is a huge issue; and one that looks set to be with us a long time.

If you read Twitter threads, can have a look through one starting “If you “aren’t scared of COVID”, this thread is for you.” – series of tweets, with references. Much may refer to unvaccinated folks; but as thread creator Ian Ricksecker later noted in rebuttal to criticism, there are still many of these.

For sure, there are arguments regarding whether people die of Covid, or die with it – something else kills them, but they happen to have Covid. As in article in British Medical Journal, Covid-19: unravelling the conundrum of omicron and deaths.

Hence, excess deaths taken as a way of assessing Covid’s impact on deaths; which are not always within 2-3 weeks, but evidently can happen later, like heart attacks in previously healthy people. This, too, is not so simple, but does suggest the overall toll of Covid has been underestimated rather than exaggerated:

The pandemic’s true death toll: millions more than official counts: Countries have reported some five million COVID-19 deaths in two years, but global excess deaths are estimated at double or even quadruple that figure.

When it comes to Omicron, the WHO notes

A number of countries have shown that infection-severity from Omicron in their populations has been lower compared to Delta. However, these Omicron impacts have been mostly observed in countries with high vaccination rates in the Region: the comparatively lower rate of hospitalizations and deaths so far is in large part thanks to vaccination, particularly of vulnerable groups. Without the vaccines many more people would likely be in hospital. It is too early to say what impact Omicron will have on the countries with lower vaccination uptake and on the most vulnerable groups.

The Omicron variant: sorting fact from myth

Right now, Hong Kong is serving like a test case for omicron infecting vulnerable groups – especially elderly people – with low vaccination rates. And initial indications not looking good, with deaths rising even early in the current tsunami [rather than wave as before]; noting that usually there is a lag of 2-3 weeks between infection and death.

Then, Covid is not a disease you simply recover from; for many people, there are lasting issues; which can happen with other viruses too, but seems especially pronounced with Covid. On 19 February 2022, the New York Times had a well researched piece, citing experts: How Long Covid Exhausts the Body. Included this image:

Some effects of Long Covid, NY Times

Issues more than physical, too: Covid infection increases risk of mental health disorders, study finds

Omicron impacts on children in Hong Kong 

The intrinsic severity of Omicron BA.2 is not mild as evident by the fatality and severe complications of the uninfected and unvaccinated children.

Lancet: Intrinsic Severity of SARS-CoV-2 Omicron BA.2 in Uninfected, Unvaccinated Children: A Population-Based, Case-Control Study on Hospital Complications

Erroneous Covid beliefs and myths debunked

On 25 March 2022, Edward Kelley, Global Health Lead, Apiject, posted a twitter thread debunking various wrong beliefs about Covid, with some focus on omicron.

See thread at https://twitter.com/etkelley419/status/1507052585005555718

You can find a related document, which should be updated, at COVID-19 Beliefs: Fact Checked.

In Massachussets, Covid Mortality Higher During Omicron Than With Delta

A study released in May 2022 found that:

More all-cause excess mortality occurred in Massachusetts during the first 8 weeks of the Omicron period than during the entire 23-week Delta period. Although numerically there were more excess deaths in older age groups, there was excess mortality in all adult age groups, as recorded in earlier waves, including in younger age groups. Moreover, the ratio of observed to expected all-cause deaths was similar in all age groups, and increased during the Omicron period compared with the Delta period.

Others have reported that the Omicron variant may cause milder COVID-19. If true, increased all-cause excess mortality observed during the Omicron wave in Massachusetts may reflect a higher mortality product (ie, a moderately lower infection fatality rate multiplied by far higher infection rate).

Excess Mortality in Massachusetts During the Delta and Omicron Waves of COVID-19

Covid ad infinitum

From an article on Canadian news site The Tyee:

//Although many public health officials still dismiss COVID infections as inevitable and even beneficial, a growing body of science shows this fashionable dogma is dangerously wrongheaded, if not an outright form of malpractice.

Reinfections, and 2022 is surely the year of reinfections, just increase the damage from COVID, which can be profound: immune dysregulation, blood clots, nerve cell death, inflammation, lung damage, kidney failure and brain damage.

New science shows that Omicron and its variants are getting better at evading immune defences induced by vaccines or by natural infection. BA5, for example, is more transmissible than any previous variant.

As a consequence it is now possible to be reinfected with one of Omicron’s variants every two to three weeks.

The data also shows that each reinfection confers no immunity. A summer infection, for example, will not protect you against a fall infection. But each and every infection will damage your immune system regardless of how mild the symptoms.

Reducing transmission is the only way to slow down viral evolution.

There is no mystery to this approach. It means free N95 masks for the entire population and appropriate masks for children. It means installing proper ventilation and filtration (HEPA filters) in schools and workplaces, along with CO2 monitors. It means paid sick leave for the infected. It means transparent data collection and reporting so people can gauge the ever-changing risk in public spaces. And it means communicating the truth about this pandemic, which is by definition an evolving and novel emergency that requires our full attention. 

“the three Cs.” Avoid closed spaces with poor ventilation. Avoid crowded spaces. Avoid close contact settings with people.

And mask up.

And that’s what citizens who care about the future of our children, our health-care workers, our immunocompromised and our elderly, will do now. //

Get Ready for the Forever Plague

This article became widely shared online; and attracted praise along with criticisms. Latter included author being a doomsayer; he responded in follow up piece, also with references: ‘Forever Plague’: Nikiforuk Responds to Critics

Covid articles by DocMartin

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