Just a few days ago, as I was scrolling through my social media feed ranting about how fake news has been spread so easily, arguably more transmissible than COVID-19 itself, I stumbled upon an article that took me one step further than rage: hysterical laughing. The bolded text read ‘New Fried Chicken Recipe Cures Omicron Variant of Coronavirus.’
And any human will have any one of two thoughts entering their head (and for the confused bunch, possibly both): either you’ll truly fall for this trap and click on the link to see what exactly is so unique about this fried chicken recipe, or you’ll lose brain cells at an exponential rate and think for a few minutes about how doomed the future of the human race will be because of misinformation. Now, I went through a less-exaggerated version of the latter, but I also realized that although I knew that this recipe would be fake, I didn’t know what the omicron variant actually was. So, I switched off my phone, pulled out my computer and dug deeper into the facts about this new form of COVID-19. Here’s what I found:
The most significant thing you must note is that the Omicron variant spreads much faster than the original COVID-19 virus, and twice as fast as the Delta variant, so you must take more precautions against it. The CDC has confirmed this and went on to say that “anyone with Omicron infection can spread the virus to others, even if they are vaccinated or don’t have symptoms.” The vaccines and boosters that are currently being used are highly effective against illnesses or death caused by this new variant, which further underscores the necessity of taking these shots. But, in terms of reducing the effects of COVID-19 once you do have it, there are some treatments with a low efficacy rate compared to other variants.
When we look at the similarities between Omicron and previous variants, we see many similarities, the most glaring one being the targets of this disease. People highly susceptible to COVID-19 continue to be the unvaccinated, those with chronic illness, and the elderly. Only 60 percent of Americans have gotten both doses of the vaccine and a mere 30% have received their booster as well. Whether it be because of misinformation, disbelief, or traditional values, according to Medical Partnership, “98% to 99% of Americans dying [due to Covid-19] are unvaccinated.” Undoubtedly, the elderly have been largely affected by not just this pandemic, but even more so because of Omicron. By September 2021, the mortality rate in this group was more than 80 times the rate of those aged 18-29, and those statistics are on track to get more disproportionate as the prevalence of the Omicron variant increases.
And if all of this isn’t convincing enough, consider this: On December 11, 2021, Omicron accounted for 8% of Covid-19 cases, but in less than a month, on January 4th, 2022, the new variant had caused 95.4% of the cases. Now that I have shown you the scarring details of Omicron, we must ask ourselves the most essential question: what exactly can we do to prevent the spread of the newest COVID-19? Arguably, the most important item on this list is to get vaccinated and boosted. This may seem like a plain reiteration of what millions of others (including my colleagues here at The City Voice) are saying, but let’s be honest, spreading this simple fact is of utmost importance.
Evidence and research have backed this up time and time again, and as we have seen with other epidemics, preventing the virus with a vaccine is what will reduce the spread of it. Now that the vaccination is open to most age groups and the booster shot was recently extended to everyone at/over the age of 12, there is much optimism that this pandemic can come to an end. Wearing masks is also essential to ending this pandemic, especially in indoor settings or areas where the virus is highly transmissible. Social distancing can also help, as remaining at a distance from others ensures that if one person has the virus, it will not be easily spread to the people around them. I urge you to stay safe and healthy during these unprecedented times.