Omicron: Everything we know so far

Since its discovery in November, the South African Omicron variant of Covid-19 has spread quickly beyond its source.

Background: Per the CDC, as of December 20, it has been found in most US states and territories and further appears to comprise as much as 90 percent of new Covid cases in the United States.

Omicron is more contagious than previous variants.

  • First designated as a 'variant of concern' by the WHO on November 26, Omicron has already been identified in 80 countries since.

  • Deducting from case count, Omicron is two to three times more likely to spread than Delta. In South Africa and other places, the number of Omicron cases is doubling every few days, and this is a rate of spread much more significant than was seen with Delta.

  • In under a month since its first detection in the US, Omicron has already overtaken Delta as the dominant variant, accounting for most new Covid cases.

Omicron is significantly less deadly than previous variants.

  • South Africans contracting the current variant are 80% less likely to be hospitalized than other variants.

  • Findings from the University of Edinburgh also suggest a significant decline in hospitalization risk, two-thirds less than previous variants.

  • Hospitals at large remain consistent in these reports, citing symptoms that are much less severe than those they're accustomed to treating.

  • One hospital in Pretoria even claimed that many of their patients were completely unaware they had Omicron for lack of symptoms. They had been hospitalized for entirely unrelated reasons.

Prior immunity is weaker against Omicron.

  • Two shots are no longer enough for immunity against Omicron. Pfizer's two-dose vaccine is only 33 percent effective against Omicron, compared to 80 percent for other variants. A booster can increase that efficacy to 75 percent.

  • Natural immunity from prior infections is also significantly weaker against Omicron, with some sources saying it offers no protection at all.

These accounts paint a picture of a significantly less virulent variant than those before. Even with heightened transmissibility, there seems to be no corresponding rise in hospitalizations. And yet, the prevailing narrative appears bent on promoting fear and hysteria amongst the public.

Restrictions because of Omicron: Beyond fears of the variant itself, many also fear the coercion and restrictions to stop Omicron's spread. Americans have already seen attempts on their livelihoods for refusal to vaccinate against Covid.

  • In places such as Pittsburgh, Chicago, and Washington DC, the freedom of unvaccinated individuals to participate in public life has been severely restricted.

Omicron is new, and much about it remains unknown. But one thing that is certain is that the data at present does not warrant the degree and manner of response seen by our media and our elected leaders.

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