By Jun Ledesma

Bracing for Omicron 

THE surge of COVID -19 all over the country is something of grave concern. At a rapid rate, people are infected health authorities are presently on red alert. Our economic managers are again jittery, the gains that had slightly increased following the dramatic decline of Covid cases prompted by the massive vaccination drive may again be anemic. 

For a while, we idly attributed the rise of Covid cases to the Christmas holiday rush when people, following the lifting restrictions, went out of their homes to go shopping, visiting, and partying. We have practically thrown cautions out of the window. Maybe we can attribute this to the fact that those who were infected but had been fully vaccinated recovered under home medication. 

But elsewhere in the world, hundreds of thousands are infected with such swiftness. The Omicron variant has spread like wildfire all over Europe, the US, and Canada after taking its toll in Africa where it started. Most of these countries are presently on lockdown. The transmissibility of this variant is unprecedented although health authorities are telling us that its impact is mild for those who had completed their vaccination or better still had gotten their booster dose. Nevertheless, Omicron is worrisome since not a few people who were not vaccinated succumbed to the variant.

Here is how  Dr. Anthony Stephen Fauci, the American physician-scientist and immunologist who serves as director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the Chief Medical Advisor to US Pres. Joe Biden explains: “While the Omicron variant seems to replicate faster in the bronchial tubes, this occurs much more slowly in the lungs which could account for the milder disease”. He also stressed that those with vaccine protection are far less likely to become infected with Omicron and are less likely to be hospitalized and die should they be infected. He warned moreover that “the risk of severe disease from any circulating variant, including Omicron, is much, much higher for the unvaccinated”. That is quite comforting. 

We Pinoys would rather look at the brighter side than whatever risks Omicron variants may bring. “Parang flu lang daw”, the optimists in us would say. Maybe for some but for those who are unvaccinated, especially those with comorbidity among them, it can be a quick trip to kingdom come. But there is a silver lining beyond Omicron. Researchers are saying that while this variant accelerates quickly it also decelerates as fast and the chances of whatever variant coronavirus breeds later will be dealt with by the stronger and effective herd immunity triggered by Omicron. 

Still, there are too many imponderables as to be confident as saying “parang flu lang”. Maybe, but in the meantime let’s observe the basic health protocols: wear that mask properly, wash or disinfect hands as often as necessary, and follow the rules on social distancing.  

Happy New Year!


About the Columnist

Image of Jun Ledesma

Mr. Jun Ledesma is a community journalist who writes from Davao City and comments from the perspective of a Mindanaoan.