Brace yourself. It's only been a week since the news of the new variant Omicron hit. Thanks to South Africa's early recognition and sharing and their work in tracking their national dataset of all positive Covid19 tests over time, we now know that the rate of reinfection with Omicron is 3 times higher than Delta variant. Remember reinfection is people who have had Covid before. It seems that the immunity from having Covid isn't very good at preventing reinfection with Omicron. This is why people who have had Covid should get the vaccine to boost their immunity.
Omicron is spreading rapidly in South Africa. But the more important question is what is happening in hospitals with severe disease and death? We don't know yet because hospitalizations lag behind by 3-4 weeks. The early information is that vaccination is still working against severe Covid symptoms.
In the US we don't know yet if Omicron is worse than Delta. With only 59.7% of people fully vaccinated (meaning not yet having a booster) it could be really worrisome. Only 22% of 18+ are boosted and only 46% of those over age 65. England far surpasses the US in boosted vaccinations across all age groups.
The Biden administration has said they would expand free rapid-at-home testing for Americans this winter. I, along with all experts, have long decried our lack of testing during this pandemic. I live in the progressive, educated, urban Bay Area and trying to get an affordable Covid test requires ingenuity, time and lots of $$. The new policy says Covid tests will be "free", but paying for the test and then trying to get reimbursed by an insurance company is a nightmare that Biden et all have not experienced in their entire lives. Denials from insurance companies, jacked up prices for tests, searching for sites to get tested are all designed to slow down a process that should be quick!.
Make me President. I will ensure at home, rapid, saliva (not a swab stuck up the nose) tests that are affordable, available at all pharmacies, schools, community centers, post offices or even Amazon delivery. Price gouging would be against the law.
Limiting air travel is a political, not a scientific move. We should be focused more on hospitalizations and death rates, rather than infection rates from Omicron. Full immunization for everyone over age 18 should happen ASAP. (In some places people are having to wait for an appointment. Shame). Doctors and nurses who spread misinformation should lose their licenses and specialty societies should strip them of their certifications. It's time to get tough.