If you’re keeping a list of the countries with the Omicron variant, I’d say it’s time to stop. In the last day, we’ve received reports of the new variant of concern in Japan, Brazil and now the first identified case in the United States.
Despite countries locking down travel from South Africa shortly after scientists from the country went public about the new variant and how to test for it, there are now cases worldwide.
What do we know and what don’t we know?
Things we don’t know:
- How well do our current vaccines work against it?
- Does it spread more than the Delta variant?
- Does it cause milder or more severe disease?
- Will the therapeutics work to minimize symptoms when people are infected?
Things we do know:
- It’s probably everywhere.
- Travel bans have not worked to keep COVID or any variants out of most countries (except the most isolated ones.)
When getting COVID information, it’s hard to know who to trust and who’s pushing an agenda.
I try to find people who make sense regarding where we are and where we’re headed.
I saw a great interview of Dr. Peter Hotez by Trevor Noah on The Daily Show. Trevor, being South African, has an interesting perspective about his home being blamed for Omicron.
Dr. Hotez said the thing that most people need to understand.
By the time we identify a new variant, it’s almost always all over the world.
This has already been proven with Omicron because The Netherlands now says they’ve identified Omicron in samples taken on 11/19 and 11/23, days before South Africa announced the variant and travel was stopped. It was spreading before we knew it existed. Looking at cases in The Netherlands is essential because it’s a significant hub between Africa and the rest of the world.
Another person who’s made a decent case about how we will live in a world with COVID is Dr. Scott Gottlieb. I listen to his comments considering that he’s on the Pfizer board of directors but I also think his commentary and advice are often correct.
This morning on CNBC, he was asked if he’s making any changes to his social interactions or travel plans due to the Omicron variant.
When it came to international travel, here’s what he said:
My concern about traveling internationally wouldn’t be in coming into contact with this new variant…my concern would be getting stuck outside the country…if you’re going to leave the country, have a Plan B.
I can say that when we visited Iceland this summer as fully vaccinated travelers in a country with hardly any COVID cases and spending almost all of our time in our hotel rooms or outside, there was still a bit of anxiety taking a COVID test for our return.
That’s what’s keeping us from flying internationally for a while. Thankfully there are plenty of places in the US for us to visit and if everything goes OK, we’re headed on a cruise this summer, which is precisely where we were before Omicron.
My opinion is subject to change.
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