Why shouldn’t you just “get over COVID”

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Like omicron variant continues its journey through the cities, causing breakthrough infections in the city fully vaccinated and something re-infections for some who have already fallen ill, it may begin to feel like everyone is getting sick.

If you have been spared COVID-19 until other people you know have been positive, you may be wondering: Should I just expose myself and get over it?

No, says Dr. Chris Beyrer, an epidemiologist at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

“There are several problems with this mindset,” Beyrer tells CNET. First, he said that while your risk of developing serious COVID-19 is now rare if you have been vaccinated and are receiving a booster, some people who have been vaccinated have had serious cases of COVID-19. And if you haven’t been vaccinated, that’s the risk much higher. So why risk it on purpose?

Second, vaccinated people can still spread the virus, he said, putting others who have not chosen to get sick. Elderly adults, immunocompromised children, or children under the age of 5 are at particular risk if you run into them, for example, in an apartment building or in a grocery store, before you find yourself ill.

Third, he says, there is a risk long COVID, which develops in about 15 to 20% of people with confirmed COVID-19 infection – including people with relatively mild cases. These symptoms can range from embarrassing to debilitating and disruptive to everyday life.

Is it inevitable that the virus that is causing the global pandemic will be transmitted? With omicron variant, some experts have said, perhaps. But choosing to get sick just to get over it has consequences you don’t even know yourself, even if you never know it.

Getting sick together: Like a chickenpox party?

The “smallpox party,” or parents who intentionally expose their children to chickenpox to gain resistance at a young age, were great before there was a vaccine against chickenpox, Beyrer said, adding that the generation that contracted chickenpox is now prone to shingles. But there is no place for this mentality with regard to COVID-19.

“COVID is now a significantly preventable disease,” he said.

We presented the following scenario to Beyrer: five fully vaccinated 20-year-old young adults who feel generally healthy and are likely to have a mild case of COVID-19 decide to acquire COVID-19 together to complete it. What could happen?

While the likelihood of anyone in this group actually getting sick is low, Beyrer said that on average, one of them develops long-term COVID. And for isolated neighbors in the group, including those who are immunocompromised, elderly, or under 5 years old, a cluster in the group can lead to serious illness.

“As contagious a virus as omicron, these infections can spread widely,” Beyrer said. “And these five young people would probably never know who they could have hurt.”

Another noteworthy thing is that COVID-19 is not a disease for everyone, and many people are fighting it a second time after falling ill earlier in a pandemic. As the Cleveland Clinic points out, natural immunity deteriorates over time, such as unimproved vaccine immunity.

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While a pandemic may seem like it will never get better, getting infected puts you at unnecessary risk and strains our impoverished health care system.

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The fact that omicron causes a less serious illness does not mean that it is not serious

Omicron leads fewer hospitalizations and deaths like a delta, Beyrer said. But it’s also much more contagious, causing the number of cases to skyrocket. And just because it causes less serious illness to an ordinary person doesn’t mean it causes it to everyone.

“When you have so many millions of cases, Deaths increase, too,” Beyrer said. “Like us [are] seen now in the United States. “

The need to “flatten” the curve for people with COVID-19 to maintain hospital capacity for those who end up very ill is now as strong as in spring 2020.

“We’re already seeing the cost to the health care system and the health care workers,” Beyrer said. Hospital beds in 24 states were close to capacity, the New York Times reported Friday. But in addition to the increase in the number of COVID-19 patients, more and more people are becoming ill, which means there are more sick health workers. When hospitals don’t have enough staff to treat patients, they have to “close the bed,” as the Wall Street Journal stressed.

Will everyone end up receiving COVID-19? When will COVID-19 become endemic?

Some health experts, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, senior medical advisor to President Biden, and Dr. Janet Woodcock, commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, recently commented that, in principle, everyone is exposed to or becomes ill with COVID. it will happen this winter when the virus is expected to peak again, or after that COVID-19 becomes endemic and more than a seasonal illness?

“The reality is that non-vaccinators have a very high probability of getting infected – in South Africa, this was more than 80 percent of all samples,” Beyrer said. Vaccines (and some boosters) are also more likely to be exposed because of the pure infectivity of the omicron variant, “but are much more likely to have either asymptomatic or mild infections, many of which go unnoticed unless the person is tested for a cause.”

The World Health Organization has warned that 50% of Europe could get an omicron infection in the coming weeks, which some experts believe could predict the way for the United States. But the high rate of COVID-19 infections does not necessarily mean the end of the pandemic, as the virus needs some predictability to become endemic, WHO official Catherine Smallwood told The New York Times. And COVID-19 is anything but stable at the moment.

Many modelers predict that COVID-19 figures will start to fall rapidly in late January, Beyrer said, and we can see much smaller cases by March. But whether COVID-19 will cease to be a pandemic will depend on a few factors, including whether vaccines and boosted amounts will increase, whether a vaccine is found for children under 5 and omicron is the last concern, he said.

“This assumes that no other variants will be present in the decrease in omicron,” Beyrer said. “An assumption that turned out to be wrong with the delta variant, as we know far too painfully.”

Byrer acknowledged the fatigue caused by experiencing the pandemic and the feeling that it would never end. But “We’re all tired,” he said. He said that trying to get sick now, when you think it will give you immunity later, is harmful to the individual and harmful to the community, he said, and it will also “maintain chains of infection and prolong pain.”

Instead, people should focus on their mental health, Beyrer said. People should see family and friends “with as much care and security as they can.”

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult your doctor or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have about your medical condition or health goals.

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