19 votes

Omicron is ‘not the same disease’ as earlier Covid waves, says UK scientist

18 comments

  1. [3]
    eladnarra
    Link
    I hate how reactive everything is rather than proactive. It's great news if Omicron isn't as bad as past variants, but this just sounds like a massive research study with no IRB or patient...

    I hate how reactive everything is rather than proactive. It's great news if Omicron isn't as bad as past variants, but this just sounds like a massive research study with no IRB or patient consent:

    The NHS Providers chief executive, Chris Hopson, said it was still unclear what would happen when infection rates in older people started to rise. “We’ve had a lot of intergenerational mixing over Christmas, so we all are still waiting to see, are we going to see a significant number of increases in terms of the number of patients coming into hospital with serious Omicron-related disease,” he told BBC Breakfast.

    "We don't know if old people are still at risk - but no worries, if a certain threshold of grannies die, we'll do something."

    8 votes
    1. [2]
      skybrian
      Link Parent
      I think that's pretty uncharitable? This is the CEO in charge of UK hospitals, and treating the sick is their job. Whatever preventative measures came before, at the point it reaches them it's...

      I think that's pretty uncharitable? This is the CEO in charge of UK hospitals, and treating the sick is their job. Whatever preventative measures came before, at the point it reaches them it's inherently reactive. Viruses don't care what any IRB thinks.

      12 votes
      1. eladnarra
        Link Parent
        I was taking it in the context of the UK's response in general (not instituting increased measures before Christmas despite calls from some scientists), not pillorying the hospitals themselves...

        I was taking it in the context of the UK's response in general (not instituting increased measures before Christmas despite calls from some scientists), not pillorying the hospitals themselves that bear the brunt of resulting surges. If it works better, I can quote a politician lower down, instead:

        "At the moment we don’t think that the evidence supports any more interventions beyond what we have done. But obviously we have got to keep it under very close review, because if it is the case that we started to see a big increase in hospitalisations then we would need to act further."

        My issue is that by the time there's a "big" spike in hospitalizations it's too late to act effectively. And it's frustrating to see this happen again and again, with vulnerable populations being treated like canaries in coal mines. Maybe there won't be a spike and Omicron will be just as mild as people hope and some day soon it'll just be a cold. But until that happens, high risk people will keep being used as a test to see just how bad it really is, based on how many of us get hospitalized or die.

        And sure, viruses don't care about IRBs — we have ethics committees to try to stop humans from engaging in research that harms other humans.

        14 votes
  2. [11]
    cloud_loud
    Link
    This is the first time in a while that I don’t feel scared. I’m boosted up and everything, but I’m not panicking. Not like how I was with the Delta variant. I’m not scared to go out to the movie...

    This is the first time in a while that I don’t feel scared. I’m boosted up and everything, but I’m not panicking. Not like how I was with the Delta variant. I’m not scared to go out to the movie theater or to go out to a restaurant anymore. This really does feel like the beginning of the end of all this.

    6 votes
    1. [9]
      nacho
      Link Parent
      Does it really though? We're one variant appearing in an under-vaccinated lower-income country that hasn't had access to sufficient doses away from a serious variant, just like it's reasonable to...

      Does it really though?

      We're one variant appearing in an under-vaccinated lower-income country that hasn't had access to sufficient doses away from a serious variant, just like it's reasonable to expect previous variants may have originated (or taken over) in similar places.

      Who's to say omicron is the last variant?

      8 votes
      1. [3]
        knocklessmonster
        Link Parent
        Nobody's saying it'll be the last variant, because that would imply it could be eliminated. It's likely there will be shorter-lived more lethal variants, but the trend for viruses is to mutate to...

        Nobody's saying it'll be the last variant, because that would imply it could be eliminated.

        It's likely there will be shorter-lived more lethal variants, but the trend for viruses is to mutate to be more infectious and less lethal, like influenza (which is even still pretty dangerous) or the hundreds of viruses that now just cause the common cold, some of which are suspected to have been involved in previous epidemics.

        That doesn't mean we're safe with Omicron. I personally don't think we'll be safe until unvaccinated people aren't being hospitalized in droves by a several successive variants. I also think this scientist is jumping the gun a bit, but he also seems to be out of step with what looks like a consensus that we aren't home free yet.

        11 votes
        1. [2]
          nacho
          (edited )
          Link Parent
          I hear this being repeated a lot, but what's the evidence that this is likely with Covid specifically, if the trend is even real for pathogenic diseases in general (I have not been able to find...

          It's likely there will be shorter-lived more lethal variants, but the trend for viruses is to mutate to be more infectious and less lethal

          I hear this being repeated a lot, but what's the evidence that this is likely with Covid specifically, if the trend is even real for pathogenic diseases in general (I have not been able to find scientific studies suggesting that general trend to be likely?

          Here are a number of sources for further reading on the topic of "pathogens evolving to become less virulent over time": https://www.politifact.com/factchecks/2021/dec/08/facebook-posts/viruses-and-other-pathogens-can-evolve-become-more/

          A pubmed, or other medical search will also give you ample reason to doubt these unsubstantiated claims that viruses and bacteria get weaker over time. Viruses and bacteria select optimized for maximum infection.


          Covid is one of the most rapidly spreading viruses we have on record after plausible origination. It's highly infectious prior to symptoms in the host. That leads to extremely rapid contagion.

          People aren't infecting others when the disease is serious and they're knocked out, hospitalized or potentially dying. They're infecting people before things get serious, mostly before symptoms arrive. That's extremely advantageous to the virus transmitting to as many as possible. Why would that stop?

          There's no reason to believe covid being deadly leads to lower rates of infection due to how it spreads.


          As an aside, flu viruses themselves have recently evolved to be more dangerous than previously as they have developed resistance to some types of antiviral treatments, making them more deadly.

          That's also happened with viruses like HIV and strains of Hepatitis C.

          Bird flu variants don't seem to have humans as main hosts (which could potentially be the case with Covid). There have been many significant outbreaks of bird flu in bird populations, both in domesticated and wild populations. (Here's an outset for further reading: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2020%E2%80%932021_H5N8_outbreak ).


          It's very depressing, but after over 500 years of influenza epidemics, there's no reason we aren't at the beginning of years, decades, or in an unlucky case centuries worth of Covid epidemics. Two years in we simply don't know. That's also what the medical experts are saying.

          What we do know is that the volume of cases has never been higher and there are huge virus reservoirs where mutations can arise and then spread.


          Edit: Also, this hour-long podcast from BBC on the topic on when the pandemic will end is very informative for those who want more: https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/w3ct2zqk

          9 votes
          1. suspended
            Link Parent
            Joshua Michaud, associate director for global health policy at the Kaiser Family Foundation

            The incredible number of infections is building up population-level immunity. That’ll be crucial in terms of muting future waves…Very important in the context of endemicity is the antiviral pills…If we have those tools, we’re looking at a very different state going into 2022.

            • Joshua Michaud, associate director for global health policy at the Kaiser Family Foundation
            2 votes
      2. [5]
        Loire
        Link Parent
        It doesn't have to be but it's seriously infectious, to the point of possibly being the fastest spreading virus in human history. That means it will likely out compete many new variants.

        It doesn't have to be but it's seriously infectious, to the point of possibly being the fastest spreading virus in human history. That means it will likely out compete many new variants.

        10 votes
        1. [4]
          vord
          Link Parent
          It's not mutually exclusive though. And with the spread of Omnicron being so fast, it'll be able to spawn mutations of its own, likely just as fast and perhaps deadlier.

          It's not mutually exclusive though.

          And with the spread of Omnicron being so fast, it'll be able to spawn mutations of its own, likely just as fast and perhaps deadlier.

          6 votes
          1. Loire
            Link Parent
            Or perhaps less deadly. The voyage of most virus' is more infectious and less deadly. The virus doesn't want to kill you. While Omicron could, randomly, develop deadlier variants, it is unlikely.

            Or perhaps less deadly.

            The voyage of most virus' is more infectious and less deadly. The virus doesn't want to kill you. While Omicron could, randomly, develop deadlier variants, it is unlikely.

            9 votes
          2. Algernon_Asimov
            Link Parent
            Deadlier viruses tend not to spread as much, because corpses don't go out to parties and pubs and nightclubs as often as living people do. (Something about them no longer being "the life of the...

            Deadlier viruses tend not to spread as much, because corpses don't go out to parties and pubs and nightclubs as often as living people do. (Something about them no longer being "the life of the party".)

            8 votes
          3. suspended
            Link Parent
            Honestly, it could go either way...fizzle out or spawn more deadly variants. However, the trend has been weakening strains.

            Honestly, it could go either way...fizzle out or spawn more deadly variants. However, the trend has been weakening strains.

            4 votes
    2. teaearlgraycold
      Link Parent
      Me too. I've got N95s for crowded indoor situations and 3 doses of mRNA magic in my blood. I know a ton of people that got infected in this latest wave but they're all completely fine.

      Me too. I've got N95s for crowded indoor situations and 3 doses of mRNA magic in my blood. I know a ton of people that got infected in this latest wave but they're all completely fine.

      4 votes
  3. [4]
    suspended
    Link
    This could be the beginning of the end of this pandemic (not the end of the virus) and all that comes with it (masking, social distancing, etc).

    This could be the beginning of the end of this pandemic (not the end of the virus) and all that comes with it (masking, social distancing, etc).

    2 votes
    1. [3]
      callmedante
      Link Parent
      Some days, I think I feel so beaten down by this pandemic that I don't allow myself to get the slightest bit hopeful about the end. This is one of those days, I suppose. Maybe I'm just out of...

      Some days, I think I feel so beaten down by this pandemic that I don't allow myself to get the slightest bit hopeful about the end. This is one of those days, I suppose. Maybe I'm just out of breath left to hold.

      8 votes
      1. [2]
        babypuncher
        Link Parent
        In the entire history of life on Earth, there has never been a pandemic that didn't eventually end. It seems highly unlikely that this one will somehow buck the trend.

        In the entire history of life on Earth, there has never been a pandemic that didn't eventually end. It seems highly unlikely that this one will somehow buck the trend.

        9 votes
        1. callmedante
          Link Parent
          Oh sure sure. The left side of my brain knows there will be end, but the right side is feeling like it never ends. That left/right dichotomy has been a recurrent theme throughout the pandemic.

          Oh sure sure. The left side of my brain knows there will be end, but the right side is feeling like it never ends. That left/right dichotomy has been a recurrent theme throughout the pandemic.

          1 vote