The highly contagious Omicron variant is spreading in the United States, but health experts are noticing a growing trend: people are deliberately trying to catch the virus and become infected in order to ‘eliminate it’.
The idea of deliberately trying to capture Omicron is “all the rage,” Dr. Paul Offitt, director of the Vaccine Education Center at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, told CNN.
But, according to health professionals, the recent trend is risky and not advisable.
“It is not a good idea to intentionally become infected with an infectious disease,” said Dr. Amber D’Souza, professor of epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. “Why roll the dice intentionally?”
Omicron Type Symptoms May Not Be Mild, ‘Just a Cold’
While it’s true that catching the Omicron version of COVID-19, unlike the Delta version, may reduce your chances of serious illness or hospitalization, D’Souza said it’s still “a roll of the dice”, even if You are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
“For many people who have been vaccinated – if you come into contact with the coronavirus – you may not get so sick, [or] You can have flu-like symptoms, but you can get worse, and you can pass that infection on to other people who may have severe symptoms,” D’Souza told the Fox television station group. “Being infected intentionally, even if Only you vaccinated – you can still feel really sick. You may need help with the symptoms.”
Omicron Edition. Left: 24 hours after infection, right: 48 hours after infection (see red fluorescent cytoplasmic antigen staining under confocal microscopy). (Photo by: Microbiology HKU/BSIP/Universal Image Group via Getty Images)
According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people infected with COVID-19 can have a wide range of symptoms – from mild to severe.
Common COVID-19 symptoms may include fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, tiredness, muscle or body aches, headache, and loss of taste or smell. Currently, more data are needed to know whether Omicron infection causes more severe illness or death than infection with other types.
Doctors warn that not only can a person become infected with mild to severe symptoms, but the person can also transmit symptoms to other people, leading to higher infection rates and even more pressure on hospitals. .
Infecting yourself could put more strain on the healthcare system
Nearly 23% of hospitals across the US reported significant staffing shortages on Tuesday as COVID-19 cases continue to rise, according to data released by the Department of Human and Health Services.
Of the 4,294 hospitals reporting to HHS, 975 said they did not have enough nurses and doctors.
“With this surge, the risk of infection is greater than ever,” D’Souza continued. “The hospitals are really overwhelmed right now.”
On Tuesday, 80.8% of all ICU beds were filled due to staff shortage, of which 30.8% were being used for COVID-19 patients.
“This is really a time when our entire health system is stressed,” D’Souza said.
Several states have implemented emergency measures to deal with shortages, and the situation in California is so dire that the state’s health department announced on Saturday that nurses who test positive for COVID-19 can continue to work until as long as they are asymptomatic and only interact. COVID-19 patients.
On Tuesday, 143 of California’s 199 hospitals reported data to HHS, saying they were dealing with a significant staffing shortage.
Under CDC guidelines, health care workers who test positive for COVID-19 can return to work immediately if a hospital enters “crisis” mode.
Otherwise, health care workers are advised to wait five days to return to work as long as their symptoms are improving.
The CDC explained that the spread of the Omron variant has the potential to increase staffing shortages and supply chain challenges, threatening industry, education and other systems that are essential to maintaining a functioning society and economy.
Omicron type infection may cause ‘long haul’ symptoms
In the meantime, the infection can be prolonged, commonly referred to as the ‘long haul’, with symptoms – despite a mild infection.
“We have an increasing number of people who have long-distance COVID,” D’Souza said.
The CDC notes that some people experience a range of new or ongoing symptoms that can last for weeks or months after being first infected with the virus that causes COVID-19. Symptoms such as difficulty breathing, tiredness, brain fog, cough, chest or stomach pain, headache, heart palpitations, and muscle aches can occur in anyone who has had COVID-19, even if the illness is mild, or They should not have any initial disease. Symptom.
While data about the Omron version is still fairly limited, the CDC concluded last year about the long-term effects from COVID-19.
A survey containing data from 3,135 adults tested for COVID-19 since January 2020 found 65.9% of respondents who tested positive for symptoms of the virus lasted four weeks or more.
Omicron type infection will not confer permanent immunity
While D’Souza noted some rare cases where exposing someone to the virus early, when they were less likely to get a serious infection, could lead to protection, this is never the case with the coronavirus.
“Going out and deliberately looking for this infection does not serve the purpose of eliminating it,” D’Souza continued. “It doesn’t protect you from infection in the long run, because the antibodies you get for COVID don’t last that long. You’ll be susceptible to re-infection, and you put yourself at risk for some illness or having long-term symptoms.” Huh. ”
Moderna said last month that a booster dose of its COVID-19 vaccine should provide protection against the fast-spreading Omicron variant. Moderna said laboratory tests showed that the half-dose booster shot increased levels of so-called neutralizing antibodies capable of fighting Omicrons by 37 times.
But while vaccination greatly reduces your risk of getting infected, D’Souza stresses that it still hasn’t reduced to zero.
“We know that if you become infected with the coronavirus you have some immunity, but it doesn’t last long,” she said.
Solution to end the COVID-19 pandemic?
So, how can you protect yourself from the new, infectious Omicron variant?
Many health professionals echo the same advice: Get vaccinated if you haven’t and get a booster if you’re eligible.
According to the CDC, vaccines are the best public health measure to protect people from COVID-19, slow transmission and reduce the likelihood of new forms emerging.
While it is still possible to become infected with COVID-19 during a thorough vaccination, the chance of serious illness decreases with three doses of the vaccine.
Other precautions include avoiding crowds, where you may be exposed to the virus, social distancing, and wearing a mask.
CDC continues to recommend the wearing of masks in public indoor settings in areas of substantial or high community transmission, regardless of vaccination status.
“Hopefully by spring, we have a new normal where the risk will be very low,” D’Souza continued.
latest on omicron version
According to the World Health Organization, the Omicron variant was first identified in South Africa in November and has since been reported in 57 countries. The first US case was reported on December 1.
Pfizer will begin human trials of an Omicron-specific COVID-19 vaccine beginning in late January, a company spokesperson confirmed to Fox TV stations on Monday.
“We have already begun work on a DNA template corresponding to the sequence of Omicron, an important step in the process of advancing a variant version of our vaccine if we do indeed need one. And the variant at risk of the vaccine. Manufacturing too, as we did for Beta and Delta before,” the spokesperson continued.
The company is comparing clinical trials conducted so far on the Omicron-specific vaccine with current vaccines.
Pfizer also aims to have a COVID-19 vaccine that specifically targets Omicron and other circulating variants available to the public by March.
Fox News contributed to this story. This story was reported from Los Angeles.