Health officials hopeful omicron could get us out of pandemic

Published: Jan. 18, 2022 at 5:54 PM EST
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - A new South Africa study is giving health officials new hope that people who are infected with the omicron variant of COVID-19, have better protection fighting out other variants.

“The data internationally suggests that if you are infected with the omicron variant, it provides protection against all those prior variants,” St. Joseph County Health Officer Dr. Mark Fox says.

According to the study conducted by several South African scientists, people infected with omicron are 70 percent less likely to develop severe disease compared with delta. In addition, the U.K. Health Security Agency finds that folks who come down with omicron are 50 to 70 percent less likely to require hospital admission compared with delta.

All encouraging signs Dr. Fox says could point the pandemic in a positive direction.

“I don’t want to create the impression that this virus is going away, but that subsequent strains of it, while they might be contagious like the flu, that they won’t cause the kind of devastation that we have seen in terms of hospitalizations and deaths from omicron or prior variants,” Dr. Fox says.

However, the World Health Organization saying in an update Tuesday that they believe there could be new variants to come could curb any immune protection that folks could have received after being infected with omicron.

“We’re hearing a lot of people suggest that omicron is the last variant, that it’s over after this. And that is not the case because the virus is calculating at a very intense level around the world,” W.H.O. COVID-19 Technical Lead Maria Van Kerkhove said at a press conference.

In the past week, new infections have increased by 20 percent globally but as Dr. Fox explains, time will tell just how long COVID will continue to spread at a rapid pace across the country.

“Covid is not going away, but I think there are lot of people in the scientific and medical community that share that view that this could mark a very important transition in the pandemic,” Dr. Fox says.

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