Doctors: omicron to become the dominant variant | Connecticut News


CONNECTICUT. (WFSB) – As COVID cases continue to rise, doctors say omicron will likely become the dominant variant here in Connecticut before the end of the month.

If you look at the state’s testing data, you’ll see that omicron shows up in only five percent of the cases.

Dr. David Banach said, “Some of the early indications are that in the next few days, it will eventually become the majority of cases here in Connecticut.”

Doctors say that data lags behind what’s really going on, omicron is spreading much faster than delta.

Dr. Lisa Cuchara is a professor at Quinnipiac University.

She said, “certainly I would think that it’s higher than what we’re seeing right now.”

Omicron cases are growing because of its high rate of transmissibility. 

“This is spreading ten times faster, that’s probably conservative,” said Cuchara.

Meanwhile doctors are also trying to determine omicron’s severity.

Early indications are that it’s milder than delta. Doctors note cases have predominantly been in younger people, who are better able to fend off COVID.

“I think there’s too many variables at play to make any definitive conclusions,” said Banach.

Doctors are curious what we’ll see as omicron spreads. A new study by the University of Hong Kong found omicron can replicate 70 times faster once in your body.

“So, if it’s spreading ten times faster, but it’s only 30 percent less severe, you’re still going to have a larger impact of omicron,” said Cuchara.

Are public health officials changing their strategy because of omicron?

Dr. Ulysses Wu said, “we’re stilling going to push vaccines, we’re still going to push boosters, I think this makes masking even more important.”

Meanwhile the CDC has confirmed 54 people developed blood clots after getting the Johnson and Johnson vaccine.

“I think the overall recommendation is that the mRNA vaccines are preferred to the Johnson and Johnson vaccine,” said Banach.

This rise in cases comes as college and universities are wrapping up their fall semesters. But some are already acting before students come back next month.

If there’s a holiday related surge in COVID cases, it won’t show up in the numbers until mid to late January. And that’s when students will be coming back to campus.

Some schools have already announced testing requirements, but more options are on the table.

Dr. Anthony Santella said, “one way that we can be prepared is really to ensure that students are starting the semester as healthy and safe as possible.”

As the University of New Haven (UNH) wraps ups it’s fall semester, it’s already looking at changes for spring classes because of COVID.

For starters, students who have not had a booster shot by January 14th will need to take a test when they get back on campus.

“Because by then you’ve passed, you know, the winter holidays, New Years,” said Santella.

UConn and the Connecticut state colleges and universities say they’re not making any changes.

Quinnipiac said, that based on the current trends, they have decided to require all students to submit a negative COVID-19 test before they return in January.

Doctors say schools should be ready to be proactive.

“When it comes to thinking about protecting students, all of the layers of protection are going to come into play,” said Banach.

Other options could include virtual classes to start the spring semester. UNH says its vaccination rate is around 97 percent.

Doctors continue to say everyone should get a booster shot to protect themself from COVID, especially as the highly contagious omicron variant continues to spread.

“I think the booster has the impact both in restoring immunity that may be waning but also it does seem to really elevate the level of antibodies overall,” said Banach.

Doctors expect omicron will become the dominant variant in the next week or two. Early indications are that it’s less severe than delta. But because omicron is also more transmissible, doctors want to see how much less severe it is. 

Wu said, “we actually need the disease to be a lot more mild, we need it to be the common cold.”

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