The omicron variant has changed the way health experts plan to monitor the spread of the novel coronavirus, according to a former Harvard health expert.
Dr. Ashish K. Jha, dean of Brown University, recently said that COVID-19 infection used to offer a roadmap for where the coronavirus was spreading and when the country could expect hospitalizations and deaths.
- “Omicron changes that. This is the shift we’ve been waiting for in many ways,” he said, per The Hill.
He said vaccinated people — especially those who received a booster shot — “are gonna bounce back” from an infection.
- “That’s very different than what we have seen in the past,” he said. “So I no longer think infections, generally, should be the major metric.”
Instead, monitoring the rise in severe COVID-19 symptoms, hospitalizations and how many people experience symptoms might be a better metrics. If symptoms and severe illness is rising, then scientists can understand what’s happening with the omicron variant wave.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the chief medical adviser on the coronavirus for President Joe Biden, said something similar on ABC News’ “This Week” over the weekend. He explained that keeping people out of the hospital remains the most important metric for stopping the omicron variant.
- “The one that would be immediate is to make sure, given the rapid spread of this extraordinary variant, that we don’t get an overrun on hospitals, particularly in those regions in which you have a larger proportion of unvaccinated individuals,” he said.
That said, a new study from the National Institute for Communicable Diseases found that COVID-19 patients in South Africa were 80% less likely to be hospitalized from the omicron variant compared to previous COVID-19 variants.
- Similarly, infections from the omicron variant had a 70% lower risk in severe COVID-19 symptoms, according to Bloomberg.