Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Omicron: Vaccines are the best defense against this COVID-19 variant and others

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Conversation

This article was originally published on The Conversation, a free and non-profit source of news, analysis and commentary from academic experts. Disclosure information is available on the original site.

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Author: Julian Daniel Sunday Willett, PhD Candidate, Quantitative Life Sciences, McGill University

We’ve made it through another pandemic winter break. Fortunately, deaths from COVID-19 have come down from a year ago, however, the numbers were still not ideal. Using December 25 as a reference date, the death rate from COVID-19 in the United States was 4.27 per million in 2021, compared to 7.48 per million in 2020. In Canada, it was 0.42 per million in 2021 compared to 2.95 per million. million last year – a much more significant decrease.

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The difference that vaccination is making becomes clear when comparing the respective rates for people who are fully vaccinated: 61.4 percent in the US compared to 77.1 percent in Canada. The high vaccination rate in Canada is in line with a rapid reduction in mortality.

As a medical doctor and researcher on COVID-19, I am optimistic about the power of increasing vaccination rates in combination with infection prevention practices to fight the pandemic.

Waiting for natural herd immunity will not cure it or save lives. In the US, the 55 million people who have tested positive for COVID-19 since the pandemic began represent only 17 percent of the roughly 330 million population – nowhere near the level needed for herd immunity. Vaccination is the only ethical means of achieving herd immunity.

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omicron

Unfortunately, the Omicron variant may have a greater potential to infect people than previous variants, and may be more capable of infecting fully vaccinated and grown individuals, according to research awaiting peer review. . This new form of the virus is a product of its natural evolution. The longer a pandemic lasts, the more changes occur with the virus.

The best way to prevent new types from arising is to increase the proportion of vaccinated individuals while maintaining measures to prevent infection, such as face masks and following recommendations for social distancing. If a vaccinated person becomes infected, the chances of getting infected are low.

Most of the cases and deaths continue to fall on unrelated individuals. Further disease and death are largely preventable, just as much of the disease and death that has occurred in recent months is preventable. Vaccine refusal in the absence of valid medical reasons, and non-adherence to infection prevention measures are largely responsible for the continuing hardship of the pandemic.

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Vaccines and Variants

Vaccines remain an effective tool towards ending the pandemic, particularly against Omicron. This awaits peer review, despite research indicating that the new variant may have a greater potential to infect people than the previous variant, and is capable of infecting fully vaccinated and enhanced individuals. Might be more capable.

More data are needed to establish how much more or less infectious the Omicron variant is than the others, but Omicron’s ability to infect vaccinated individuals (albeit less than unvaccinated individuals) is concerning. Is. This means that infection prevention activities, such as wearing a mask and social distancing, are still necessary, regardless of vaccination status. Poor adherence to these measures can be enough to increase cases in a community, even with many people vaccinated.

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While vaccines are less protective against becoming infected with Omicron than other types, they do provide significant protection against developing an infection and serious illness.

For people who have already had COVID-19 but have not been vaccinated, the evidence so far suggests they should still get vaccinated because a previous infection did not protect against Omicron. While there are claims that Omicron causes minor illness, one cannot rely on it when infected individuals still face a significant chance of serious illness.

There are months of winter left, and COVID-19 cases are on the rise again. There is reason to believe that the pandemic will get worse before it gets better.

pandemic toolkit

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Booster shots are readily available in the US and increasingly available in Canada. The booster has been shown to provide enhanced protection against the Omicron variant.

It is everyone’s social responsibility to get a booster, except for the very few people who are allergic to vaccine components. Research has shown that being highly allergic to something that is not vaccine-related rarely equates to the expected severe allergic reaction to the vaccine.

I am allergic to shellfish which has put me in the hospital for inadvertently consuming it. Nothing happened to me while receiving any of my three shots of COVID-19 vaccines, and the above research suggests that this will be the case for most people with non-vaccine allergies.

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The risks of COVID-19 far outweigh the very small risk of having an allergic reaction to the vaccine. In the unlikely event of an allergic reaction to the vaccine, such reactions are usually mild and easily treated.

The pandemic will get better if we work together. While the news of Omicron and the effects on vaccine effectiveness are disappointing, more systems exist to respond to this change and future changes in the pandemic. Pfizer, one of the drugmakers of effective COVID-19 vaccines, has already declared readiness to produce vaccines adapted to the changing virus. We can expect other manufacturers to follow suit, ensuring that the necessary treatments are available to meet this challenge.

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That leaves it on consumers – on us – to play our part in ending the pandemic.

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Julian Daniels Sunday Willett does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding for any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and does not have any relevant affiliation beyond his academic appointment. not disclosed.

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This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Disclosure information is available on the original site. Read the original article: https://theconversation.com/omicron-vaccines-remain-the-best-defence https://theconversation.com/omicron-vaccines-rem

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