- Several variables, particularly the coronavirus Omicron variant’s high transmissibility, have contributed to an increase in its dissemination.
- The unvaccinated are most vulnerable to serious disease.
- Vaccination significantly minimizes the likelihood of being hospitalized and dying from the disease.
- Vaccination also lessens the strain on the healthcare system.
President Joe Biden presented statements on the continuous spike of the Omicron strain of SARS-CoV-2 on January 4 ahead of a meeting on COVID-19.
Biden mentioned the virus’s great transmissibility in his remarks. He also emphasized the need of continuing to take measures, particularly by being vaccinated and boosted.
The president, as he has in the past, warned of a “pandemic of the unvaccinated.”
“You should be concerned about Omicron, but not scared,” Biden added. “However, if you haven’t been immunized, you have reason to be concerned.” Many of you will — you know, you’ll have terrible disease in many situations if you have COVID-19 if you haven’t been vaccinated. Some will perish — unnecessarily.”
Why is there such an increase in the virus, and why are unvaccinated persons at risk?
Why the Omicron variant is surging
According to Dr. Mohammad Sobhanie, an infectious diseases specialist at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, Omicron has surpassed Delta as the main variation in the United States.
“It is much simpler to spread than the Delta type, and this has resulted in more cases nationally,” he added. In addition to Omicron becoming more transmissible, mitigating efforts have slowed, according to Sobhanie. This involves wearing a mask indoors and engaging in physical or social separation.
“This, along with the release of the more transmissible Omicron variety, has resulted in a surge that has surpassed the Delta variation,” he stated.
Dr. Faheem Younus, vice president/chief quality officer/chief of Infectious Diseases at the University of Maryland Upper Chesapeake Health, also stated that around 40% of the population is not completely vaccinated, and only 36% has had a booster shot.
“Furthermore, this rise corresponds with the holidays,” Younus added. “More instances are fuelled by travel and communal activities associated with such times.”
Unvaccinated bearing the brunt of the surge
The virus continues to impact the unprotected more than the vaccinated, as it has since the introduction of the COVID-19 vaccinations.
Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), stated in a Nov. Unvaccinated persons are 6 times more likely to test positive than vaccinated people, 9 times more likely to be hospitalized, and 14 times more likely to die from COVID-related complications, according to a 22 White House press conference.
The Delta version was dominant at the time Walensky made his claim.
How have things altered since Omicron took over?
The Omicron rush is still in its early stages. Nonetheless, most hospitals are overcrowded, according to Younus, and several — including his hospital system — are already working under crisis-level care.
“Over than 75% of all admitted COVID-positive patients in the University of Maryland Medical System’s 12 hospitals are unvaccinated,” Younus continued. “The bulk of the remaining 25% had only received one or two shots.”
Younus went on to say that this wave is “dramatically worse” than the Delta.
However, since the beginning of the pandemic, overall mortality for COVID-19 has decreased due to better therapies.
Furthermore, breakthrough infections are usually milder, according to S. Wesley Long, Ph.D., researcher at Houston Methodist Hospital in Houston.
“With Delta, we saw 43 percent of people needing hospitalization and little more than 5% dying.” “With Omicron, even though it’s still early, we’re seeing just fewer than 15% of patients requiring hospitalization, and just less than 1% has died thus far,” Long noted.
Why it’s best to get vaccinated
Some have questioned whether the immunizations are worthwhile because they do not completely prevent the disease or its spread to others.
According to Dr. Greg Schrank, MPH, hospital epidemiologist at the University of Maryland Medical Center specializing in Infectious Diseases and assistant professor of medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, the goal of vaccinations is not to totally avoid illnesses.
This would necessitate keeping very high amounts of antibodies in our blood at all times, which would necessitate periodic boosting. Instead, the major goal of immunizations is to avoid catastrophic outcomes, which they are quite successful at. The immunizations are also effective at decreasing viral transmission, according to Schrank. “This is because vaccinated persons shed less virus over a shorter period of time,” he explained.
“Vaccinated people can still become infected with COVID-19 and potentially spread the sickness.” “However, the overall danger is decreased since the immune system developed by vaccination steps in to more swiftly clear the virus from the body,” he noted.
According to Schrank, vaccinations also reduce the strain on the healthcare system.
“Hospitals are overflowing with people with COVID-19 infections, the vast majority of whom are unvaccinated,” he stated. “Not only does this provide a difficulty in caring for the huge number of COVID-infected patients, but it can also have an influence on the capacity to provide care to people with other medical requirements owing to limited beds and resources.”
By keeping individuals out of the hospital, hospitals are less likely to face the danger of postponing procedures, high emergency department wait times, and the necessity for care rationing.