Happy New Year! Crappy Start!


I hope you enjoyed your new year’s celebration, and we all enjoy saying “goobye and good riddance” to 2021. We’re hoping for much better in the year 2022. So I’ll be that jerk who starts the year by telling you some bad news.

2022 might turn out to be a wonderful year — but it will start horribly, because the omicron variant of COVID-19 is so astoundingly contagious, the rate of infection is “through the roof” — i.e., faster than ever before in the USA.

In fact the rate of new infections is almost twice what it has been before, and it’s all over the country — there’s no place safe, no place immune.

Now for the bad news that some might think is good news: The death rate has not shown a similar dramatic increase, at least, not yet:

That’s because there’s a nearly three-week delay between peak infections and peak deaths; in about 20 days we can expect the death rate to reflect the dramatic increase in infections.

Remember that for two years, America’s health care system has been strained to nearly the breaking point by the demon of COVID. The next month will be worse, especially since only 62% of Americans are vaccinated. It’s not for lack of availability of vaccine … it’s because too many Americans aren’t willing to help themselves, help their neighbors, help health care workers.

Now — finally! — for some good news.

Although omicron is incredibly infectious, the vaccines seem to work well against it. They even provide longer-term protection than previously thought; the antibody response fades quickly, but the next line of defense (the “B” cell and “T” cell system) is still on the alert and ready for battle. So, IF YOU ARE VACCINATED you have a lot less to fear: less chance you’ll get it, less chance of severe if you do.

How hard the next month is, and the next month after that, depends on us.

We are all sick of this shit, we’re mad as hell and not going to take it any more. Guess what? Health care workers — doctors, nurses, orderlies, technicians, custodians, receptionists, ambulance drivers … they’re all sick of this shit too. More than we are. And for the next month or two, their lives will be even worse than they have been.

So here’s my appeal to everyone: PUT YOURSELF ON LOCKDOWN.

Even if you’re vaccinated and boosted, stay away from people. There are still “breakthrough cases” where the vaccinated get infected — and although if you do, your case will probably be mild, you can still pass it on to others and you’ll still be a strain on the health care system.

And, wear that damn mask. I feel as though I don’t need one, but it’s my “flag” that I’m on team Faucci — and I’ll wear it proudly, I’ll do whatever I can to protect my fellow citizens and ease the strain on those who have fought so hard to keep us alive, even while so many of us refuse to do the simplest thing to make their work easier.


So swallow that bitter pill.

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15 responses to “Happy New Year! Crappy Start!

  1. Susan Anderson

    The herky-jerky graph is an artifact of the holiday season + weekends. Reasonable data from the US is normally posted Tuesday-Friday. This means deaths are not OK per actual data. We saw case deaths as well as case numbers go high several days last week 27th to 30th, and I’d almost be willing to bet a large sum that we will see staggering numbers going up and up starting Monday and getting into stride Tuesday.

    Also, deaths are disproportionate to cases in areas where antivaxxing and antimasking and close contact are the norm. I pity caregivers who have to deal with the hate and violence that accompanies the cognitive dissonance for families caught in this bind, willing to blame anybody but themselves.

    • Susan Anderson

      Came on quicker than I thought it would. NYTimes new cases:
      1,017,376 !! Deaths not growing much yet.

  2. Oddly, low omicron-related deaths appear to occurring in South Africa. So, what they are saying is that the percentage of those who will die after getting the omicron variant may be lower, but since so many more will become infected, the absolute number of deaths will of course be higher than the absolute number of deaths related to the delta variant – almost entirely among the unvaccinated.

  3. Tor Ole Klemsdal

    You state that;
    ” That’s because there’s a nearly three-week delay between peak infections and peak deaths; in about 20 days we can expect the death rate to reflect the dramatic increase in infections.”

    But fortunarely, if you look what the Omikron spike has resulted in in countries well ahead (more than 3 weeks) of USA – not at least South-Africa, but also in the UK https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/country/uk/
    and Denmark (which now has the largest rate of cases per capita in the world) , the dramatic increase in cases will not be paralleled with at similar increase in death rates, both because this variant has a some 67% lower risk of emergency department admission, se report: ” The risk of hospital admission from emergency departments with Omicron was approximately one-third of that for Delta (Hazard Ratio 0.33, 95% CI: 0.30 to 0.37). These analyses were stratified on date of specimen and area of residence and further adjusted for age, sex, ethnicity, local area deprivation, international travel, vaccination status. ”

    Click to access Technical-Briefing-31-Dec-2021-Omicron_severity_update.pdf

    and beacuse the population as a whole is better protected by vaccination.
    There will some in increase in death’s as well (largely unnecessary, if people were sensible enough to accept the vaccination), but in a lot midler manner.

  4. Over the preceding almost two years I have personally known only a couple of individuals that contracted Covid, but that has now changed, dramatically.

    I now personally know seven people who have contracted Omicron over just the last two weeks, and almost all of them had been vaccinated at least once, in most cases twice. And I live in Canada, where over 87% of the adult population has been double vaccinated, and just under 40% of the under 12 population has been single vaccinated.
    (Health Canada: https://health-infobase.canada.ca/covid-19/vaccination-coverage/ )
    I think the term “breakthrough case” has become meaningless. It is clear that the vaccines simply can not prevent infection by Omicron, however it does seem (so far) that at least they do make cases far less severe.
    Staying away from other people as much as possible, continuing to wear a mask when you can’t, and putting one’s self in voluntary lockdown are still your best tools to prevent becoming infected.

  5. There is a fundamental difference with Omicron not affecting the lungs nearly as much as the previous variants. So there is justified hope that the death rate will be far lower with Omicron than with the others.

  6. One has to be careful extrapolating too much from countries whose demographics are skewed heavily towards younger folks, i.,e., like South Africa. However, the early data does seem to indicate a less virulant disease, although Omicron LongCovid is still a question mark.
    For great info, follow @Bob_Wachter on Twitter. He’s Chair of Dept of Medicine at UCSF )i.e., one of the top medical schools) and the sort of expert who tells you what he knows and what he doesn’t and qualifies guesswork carefully, but has often been ahead of the curve. He also brings in other experts into video COVID Grand Rounds.

  7. Anthony William O'brien

    Omicron is rewriting the rules. It appears to move through your system much faster, from onset of symptoms to recovery. A prior Covid infection of a different strain is not full protection against Omicron. but Omicron does appear to offer good protection against earlier strains.

    Omicron can kill, but generally is less serious. However as stated in earlier comments it is much more infectious. I hate masks, but they do reduce the infective viral load, increasing the odds of your immune system dealing effectively with the virus. and yes I am double vaccinated and boosted.

  8. Still no real increasing trend visible in the death toll, thankfully, as of the data for Jan. 5. Fingers crossed!

    OTOH, the US new cases amounted to a record 704,661, which is simply stunning by previous standards. Will we hit a million cases in a day before this peaks?

    It does seem to me that Omicron is putting us on the Royal Road to herd immunity–if anything can. But with the demonstrated mutaphilia (if that’s a word!) of the virus, the end state will surely be endemic COVID for the forseeable future–hopefully comparable to seasonal flus, more or less. Again, fingers crossed.

  9. Herman Hermit

    From Johns Hopkins, cumulative cases report:
    Yesterday’s data (1/6/2022)
    NEW CASES: 643,660
    DEATHS: 1,986

  10. The number of deaths per case is expected to be much lower for Omicron variant as for Delta variant, even if the Omicron variant is not less dangerous than the Delta variant. This is because its transmitting to vaccinated and recovered people too.
    Therefore the vast majority of Omicron cases was vaccinated or recovered bevor, in contrast to the Delta variant.
    For vaccinated and recovered people COVID-19 will be much milder than for unvaccinated people that had no previous infection.

  11. When discussing topics similar to the “risk of hospital admission from emergency departments with Omicron”, please be aware of the probably large difference between admission *with* COVID and admission *because of* COVID. Probably not easy to define and measure, but surely there’s a big difference.

  12. The New York Times had an article with data on vaccinated versus unvaccinated hospitalizations and deaths. https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/?zx=q5fb8ok4qbju#inbox/FMfcgzGmtNhCBPQrxqmPTDgRbwRBzhpk About 10 times as many unvaccinated people are being hospitalized as vaccinated and a similar difference in the number of deaths. The death data is harder to read because the numbers are low. The article states that the vaccinated numbers might be inflated because people come in with another primary complaint, like a heart attack, and are tested for covid. If they are positive and then die the death counts as covid.

    Since more than 62% of the population is fully vaccinated if hospitalization rates were the same you would expect 62% of hospitalized to be vaccinated. This continues to be a pandemic of the unvaccinated.

  13. In testimony to congress Fauci was reported in the Guardian to say:

    Fauci said unvaccinated people were 10 times more likely to test positive for Covid-19, 17 times more likely to be hospitalised and 20 times more likely to die.

    Meanwhile, the Surgeon General in Florida (where I live) told people not to get Covid tests unless they needed to go to the hospital. The reason was they want to keep positivity rates down.