A Leading Virologist on How to Guard Your self From the Omicron Variant

  • Guido Vanham is a Belgian virologist who’s been sending letters to his kids through the pandemic.
  • The textual content of his most latest letter is printed down below with permission from his son Peter Vanham.
  • Vanham claims the virus will eventually weaken and meanwhile to maintain subsequent COVID-19 regulations. 

Dear Peter, Johan, and Nele,

Dear grandchildren, 

Your mother and I are so very much seeking ahead to celebrating the holiday seasons with you — and specially with the latest member of our family members! We’re so happy you might be all secure and that Valeria had a very good pregnancy and acquired herself protected by taking a vaccine (and quickly a booster) early.

We know you’re nervous also for the kids, who are facing a difficult scenario in university. They now have to wear masks and are questioned to get vaccinated even when they run a decreased risk of receiving ill themselves. You informed me how even some of your pals reacted incredibly to that information. 

But I have read through all the scientific studies about it and it can be really protected for the boys and youngsters their age (5- to 12-yr-olds) to get vaccinated. They also is not going to have a lot, if any, problems from wearing a mask. 

They may well even like donning a mask if you body it correct. They get to do what older people are accomplishing and do their aspect in serving to men and women from getting sick. My practical experience is that if you set a positive spin on it and talk to them for their view, they are usually more inclined to be “courageous” than you might assume. 

As for our freshly born granddaughter who’s barely a thirty day period old: You might be presently by means of the most critical section as Valeria got vaccinated throughout her being pregnant and with that safeguarded herself and the toddler. Even now as she breastfeeds, she passes on antibodies that assist the baby protect herself. 

Unfortunately, the Omicron “variant” of the COVID-19 virus is spreading all more than the globe now. And I know that you’re questioning: What should really we hope? Is this going to be the first wave all over once again or will we be greater off? 

My evaluation is: This could be the most contagious variant yet, with a achievable tsunami of bacterial infections and unfortunately small influence of the vaccines on that front. We for that reason are better safe than sorry and should really do every thing we can to guard ourselves and those people all-around us. 

Here is what I think you ought to know: 

To start with, this Omicron “variant” is a new variety of the COVID-19 virus, which results in a new wave of bacterial infections since it truly is by some means more powerful than the former variant. Omicron is both equally extra contagious than previous variants (Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta) and also escapes from the “immunity” the antibodies induced from the earlier variants.  

Omicron can infect persons who have previously been contaminated with past variants and even people who had been vaccinated many months back. Moreover, Omicron is equally “pathogenic” as earlier variants — i.e., it can result in major illness leading to hospitalization, intensive care, or even demise. 

As you know, our health care programs are at the moment nevertheless above-burdened by COVID-19 sufferers in hospitals and intensive-treatment wards. I hear that is the case for our regional healthcare facility and also for the just one in Geneva. As a result, significantly ill men and women without the need of COVID-19 but with most cancers or other lifetime-threatening situations frequently have to hold out for treatment. 

That hold off of necessary care for non-COVID-19 people also causes pointless dread, suffering, and premature dying. The “Delta wave” is now receding, but the “Omicron wave” is by now unfolding with the overload of hospitals with COVID-19 individuals and delays for non-COVID-19 treatment. You could have listened to Dr. Anthony Fauci is predicting the exact same in the US. 

(I have recognised of Dr. Fauci since I was studying HIV in the 1980s. He is an remarkable scientist with a résumé in infectious ailments which is equivalent to none. When he speaks, we should really all hear.) 

So what can we do alongside one another to keep away from or certainly lessen the Omicron wave?

Omicron stays sensitive to the vaccine, but a lot less than Delta. That’s why you require a third dose of the vaccine to enable defend you from major disease and hospitalization.

Sad to say, even a few doses do not protect in opposition to the an infection itself. If you have been vaccinated a few moments and still develop into infected, you may normally hardly discover it: You could have a “prevalent chilly,” a sore throat, and from time to time a fever. So I know you happen to be all lining up for your boosters and you happen to be performing the suitable issue. 

At times you never experience anything at all and still the virus is in your overall body for a few days and can be transmitted to other individuals. If you then infect another person who hasn’t been vaccinated or who is vaccinated but is weakened, that man or woman can turn into seriously ill with COVID-19. Not only quite frail or outdated persons are sensitive, but also center-aged persons with obesity,

high blood strain

, chronic bronchitis, and

diabetic issues

, and even some seemingly correctly nutritious youngsters or even children.

A 3rd shot of the vaccine is thus crucial to protect by yourself versus sickness. But even if you get a third shot, you can still transmit the Omicron virus and perhaps make somebody else unwell. That is why we should really all adhere to the steps below since we know they greatly lower the unfold of every variant of the virus:

  1. Keep your distance and don a confront mask the right way when you might be indoors with men and women who don’t belong to your core relatives: at faculty, in the business, in a store, on the community transportation, in the town corridor, and so on.
  2. Regularly ventilate rooms where by you are jointly with a lot of people today with fresh air. You can do so by opening a window at house or by putting in an air purifier (they’re sold on line and in quite a few retailers). 
  3. Clean your arms regularly.
  4. Certainly really don’t cough or sneeze in entrance of other individuals, and make certain to continue to keep your mask on when you converse. Sneezing, coughing, or speaking loudly to a person are the 3 most possible ways in which virus particles can spread and infect others. 

If any of you have had shut get hold of with an contaminated individual, the principles of testing and quarantine (isolating oneself for a person to two months) absolutely apply. Which is also the case if any of the youngsters or your partners are contaminated. I know you may have a good deal of social contacts, so remember to be very careful and stick to individuals most effective procedures. 

As we will soon see each other for the vacations, it’s not normally achievable to strictly observe all these rules. For case in point, if we are likely to eat and drink with each other, you are not able to always use your facial area mask and socially distance if you’re in a tiny space. 

Then it is really definitely recommended that all persons who program to arrive together (together with the little ones) do a self-examination beforehand to make absolutely sure that no a single would unknowingly develop into contaminated with the virus and unfold it. This is extremely crucial if there are people who are aged or weak — then every person ought to undoubtedly be tested. 

(Your mom and I really don’t look at ourselves previous and weak, but we’re now in our late sixties and early seventies, so we have to be careful, as well, and we will get tested tomorrow ahead of the Christmas get-jointly.) 

It is really all annoying, but we stay in a time period when a perilous virus is among the us. It will continue to be that way all wintertime.

What then is the prospect?

  1. The major vaccine firms are now working on a new vaccine specifically against Omicron. It could be completely ready as early as March and distributed shortly later on.
  2. We can be assured that the problem in the summertime of 2022 will improve, just like in 2020 and 2021. That usually means we have some thing optimistic to search ahead to in the close to long run.
  3. Because more and more individuals have been vaccinated and/or contaminated, the herd immunity (the resistance of all people today by their antibodies) boosts
  4. The virus can’t endlessly develop new solid variants, so it will inevitably weaken and behave more like the flu virus.

This pandemic will go, just like the Spanish Flu a hundred years ago, but no one particular can forecast when. I hope with all of you that this is our very last COVID-19 winter season, but I’m only a doctor and a scientist — and a father and grandfather — not a prophet …

Acquire care, and let’s hope we can continue to get together for the holidays, albeit incredibly cautiously,  


Guido Vanham, healthcare health practitioner and specialist in virology and immunology