If you look at the graph of COVID-19 infections in the U.S., the “omicron wave” is rather obvious:
Yes, it’s that giant spike in the infection rate at the end, the one that has hit us this year.
Let me plot that data again, as a blue line, but reduced by a factor of 100. I’ll also delay it 20 days. That way, we’ll see what 1% of daily infections looks like, when it’s delayed 20 days. But I’ll expand the y-axis so that it covers such a small region, the huge “omicron spike” this year spills over the top of the graph!
That’s because I’ll also plot, as red triangles, the mortality rate, the number of deaths per day (per million population).
And that’s the point. UNTIL NOW, the death rate from COVID-19 in the U.S. has always been higher than 1% of the infection rate delayed 20 days. UNTIL NOW.
Omicron is quite different from other variants in the way it infects the body. It rarely even gets to the lung tissue, instead it wreaks havoc on the upper respiratory system — like a terrible cold. That’s a genuine threat to the young, the old, those with co-morbidities, but it’s nothing like the other variants of COVID-19 which shred your lungs and bring a much higher risk of hospitalization and death.
It’s also quite different in that it’s far more infectious. That’s not because the other variants aren’t highly infectious, they are, it’s because omicron is “off the scale” of infectious.
The good news: because omicron is a variant of COVID, it has so many of the same active proteins in its structure that when your body learns to beat omicron, it’s “locked and loaded” to fight off every COVID. In fact, it’s the most effective vaccine you can get.
And if you are vaccinated, then if (I’m tempted to say “when”) you’re exposed to omicron, you are far less likely to require hospitalization … or a body bag.
If we zoom in on the time axis, and add yet another line (in green) showing one half of 1% of the infection rate delayed 20 days, we get this:
I’m hopeful that this is a portent of things to come: that the death rate from COVID-19 will continue to be less that 0.5% of the infection rate (delayed 20 days), and that the infection rate will continue to fall because omicron is so infectious, we’re going to reach “herd immunity.”
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