Facebook Twitter

A ‘COVID-19 risk budget’ during omicron wave could make all the confusion easier

What should you do now to fight off the omicron variant?

SHARE A ‘COVID-19 risk budget’ during omicron wave could make all the confusion easier
Fans take a COVID-19 test at an NHL hockey game between the Anaheim Ducks and the Vancouver Canucks.

Fans take a COVID-19 test in the parking lot of the Honda Center before an NHL hockey game between the Anaheim Ducks and the Vancouver Canucks on Wednesday, Dec. 29, 2021, in Anaheim, Calif. Leana Wen, an emergency physician and public health professor at George Washington University, told NPR that those worried about the omicron variant and COVID-19 should create a COVID-19 risk budget.

Jae C. Hong, Associated Press

The novel coronavirus just won’t go away. And it’s not like the guidance on what to do next has gotten any easier.

In the last week, we’ve reported on new guidances for isolation time from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and new advice on masks and staying safe against omicron.

We’ve even reported about how experts want you to get a COVID-19 test if you’re feeling sick at the same time that there’s a testing shortage across the country. And that’s not even mentioning new research that suggests rapid tests might be less effective at finding the omicron variant.

“The altered guidance, ambiguous research findings and continuing unknowns about omicron — and, perhaps most of all, the overwhelming desire after two years of a pandemic to return to normal life — have left people once again in the predicament of making personal risk calculations that may be not terribly better than wild guesses,” according to The Washington Post.

So yeah, there are a lot of questions about what to do next. We have to return to normality at some point. And by all accounts so far, the omicron variant appears to be similar to the common cold.

That’s why Leana Wen, an emergency physician and public health professor at George Washington University, told NPR that those worried about the omicron variant and COVID-19 should create a COVID-19 risk budget.

“A lot of people may have this misunderstanding that if they’re doing one thing that’s risky when it comes to COVID, that they might as well let down their guard and do everything else, when actually, it’s quite the opposite,” she said.

According to Wen, people should make a budget for their risky activities. For example, you might want to skip that huge Taylor Swift party the week before you travel to see your family.

“When you choose one thing that’s of high value to you, perhaps you should actually be reducing the other aspects of risk in your life,” Wen told NPR.

Gaurav Suri, a computational neuroscientist at San Francisco State University, also told NPR that this is a hard time for most people because humans prefer stability over anything.

“Humans are tuned to making decisions around stability,” Suri said. “We are not used to rapid changes in the context around us. And it takes time to adjust to this.”