How To Navigate the Omicron Wave
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Infectious disease experts caution us not to panic because Omicron is less harmful. We’re all tired of this pandemic, but it’s not time to become indifferent. Don’t think the Omicron variant is more contagious but less severe. That’s dangerously over-simplified thinking. Omicron is designated SARS-CoV-2 variant B.1.1.529 with the potential to cause serious disease and long-haul effects. All SARS epidemics are troublesome. This one is no exception. It’s a serious variant with lots of mutations making it spread faster and mutate further as more people get infected.
Here’s what we know about Omicron
It spreads fast. The R0 rate of spread designation is R2, about the same as Delta. But less than the original SARS at R4 and much less than measles at R18. And seasonal flu tends between R1 and R2. Omicron propagates 70 times faster than Delta in the upper lung tissue making it more infectious. So, you’re more likely to get infected if you get exposed. You could get infected with Delta and Omicron at the same time. Omicron can cause breakthrough infections because it can evade vaccine-induced immunity. However, the Moderna shot appears to work well against it, even at the 50-microgram half dose. A full dose of 100-micrograms, however, delivers more protection.
What is an R0 value?
R means the reproductive number, the average number of others to which an infected person can spread disease. It’s one of several models used by epidemiologists to estimate how fast an infectious outbreak could spread. An R0 value means zero spread. R2 means one person, on average, will infect two others leading to exponential spread. R0 is the metric that influences public health policy decisions about lockdowns and school closures.
Reminders on how to beat COVID-19
When it comes to infectious disease, if you don’t get exposed, you won’t get sick. Continue mindful social distancing. Wear a mask in areas for the risk of high exposure like airport terminals and subways. Upgrade your cloth or surgical mask to an N95 or KN95 for better filtration of viral particles.
Get tested if you have symptoms or suspect exposure to COVID-19. I recommend both a rapid test and the PCR tests taken together. If you test positive, stay home, and limit your encounters with others in your household. The CDC shortened the previous self-quarantine time from 10 days to 5 days. But use your own judgement. If you still have symptoms like coughing, stay home a few more days. And while isolating, take your temperature every day in the morning and evening. Also check you SpO2 percentage with a finger oximeter. An oxygen saturation of 95 to 100 percent is normal. But call your doctor if yours drops below 94 percent.
Use a HEPA filter air cleaner to remove viral particles from the air: one for the bedroom of the sick individual and another in a common area in another part of the house or apartment. And fresh air circulation helps. If you can, keep a window slightly open in your room. Unlike with the flu or colds where viruses accumulate on surfaces, SARS-CoV-2 is mainly spread in the air.
Rest as much as needed. Though if you feel reasonably healthy, you can practice gentle yoga in your room. But don’t over tax yourself. Heavy breathing facilitates spread of aerosolized droplets.
Follow healthy nutrition guidelines. Avoid refined sugars and carbohydrates. Eat more vegetables and drink fresh vegetable juices. One or two apples a day provide abundant antioxidants and other healthy phytochemicals. And take nutritional supplements, especially vitamin D3 and Nrf2 antioxidants, as well as NAC and glutathione.
– Avoid super-spreader events.
– Wear an N95 or KN95 mask when among crowds.
– Wash your hands or use a hand sanitizer.
-Take preventive supplements like vitamin D and Nrf2 antioxidants.
Nature seeks balance. Once equilibrium is reached between variants and their infection rate, and more people get vaccinated or have natural immunity induced by disease, the pandemic will end.
Stay safe. And above all, don’t let Omicron dampen your holiday spirit.
Learn more about Omicron:
The R0 value is useful in predicting COVID-19 spread but not perfect.
Omicron SARS-CoV-2 infects faster but less severe. https://www.med.hku.hk/en/news/press/20211215-omicron-sars-cov-2-infection
Nrf2 activation is useful against COVID-19.