Where do we stand with Omicron?
The data, the math, the patterns, and the exit
|Eric Topol||18 hr ago|
The New Data
Clearly, there’s a major problem with vaccine breakthrough Omicron infections. Recall that with a booster vs Delta, the vaccine effectiveness was restored to ~95% as Ravin Gupta and I recently reviewed all of the reported studies in Science
So where do we go from here? Is Omicron, by infecting “up to half the world’s population” going to serve as our exit ramp from pandemic to a contained, endemic state?
That isn’t clear and it would be foolish to predict that, even though that occurred this week Omicron’s going to help in building an immunity wall, but whether that will be sufficient is indeterminate. We’re so far from containing the virus at this point, enabling further accelerate evolution to a new variant that could potentially have a higher level of immune evasion (not so lucky as with Omicron), more fully evading our current vaccines, or even the Omicron-specific vaccine expected later this year.
That is why it’s so essential to push on the pan-coronavirus vaccine, oral and nasal vaccines that build mucous immunity and help block transmission, and get mass production of Paxlovid along with other safe and effective anti-Covid pills that are very likely variant-proof, not relying on our immune system.
As the Washington Post editorial board wrote today, and which I’m in total agreement”:
“Ultimately, in chasing variants, we are always going to be behind the curve. Along with the immediate battle with omicron, renewed effort must be made to develop next-generation vaccines that will provide broader and longer protection and dampen transmission. Ideally, scientists will develop a universal coronavirus vaccine that encompasses all of these characteristics, capable of protecting against many — or all — known variants. That day cannot come soon enough.”
Now is not the time to rely on sharp descents and that somehow “it’s over”. If that happens, and we quickly get to containment and low levels of circulating virus that are no more threatening than annual flu, terrific. It seems quite unlikely with so much of the world’s population, especially in low and middle income countries, have yet to be vaccinated. If there’s one thing we learned about predicting the path of SARS-CoV-2, it’s that it’s unpredictable. So we shouldn’t plan on a rosy picture. There’s too much we can do right now to seize control in case the most optimistic scenarios don’t play out.
Read the whole article here: