Covid-19 appears to be mutating into much less dangerous variants. The World Health Organization has reported that there have been zero deaths anywhere in the world from the Omicron variant. The data has given health officials reassurance it is significantly less serious than the original strain.
While Omicron is more transmissible than the dominant delta strain, symptoms appear closer to those of the common cold with some scientists now saying the pandemic is for all intents and purpose over.
The San Francisco Chronicle reported Wednesday that “So far, only one person in the U.S. has been hospitalized with omicron infection and there have been no deaths linked to the mutation.”
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The variant was first discovered in November in South Africa with officials there admitting it had posed no serious health concerns. The outbreak, however, led to a controversial and much-maligned decision by the Biden administration to ban travel from at least half-a-dozen African nations. The actions led to accusations of racism as no predominantly white country, with similar infection rates, was included on the list. Over the weekend, Dr. Anthony Faust admitted the decision was made too quickly and “in the dark,” while saying the travel ban could be reversed soon.
The New York Times reports that the Delta variant, itself a much weaker version of Covid-19, is driving hospitalizations in the U.S.
New York Governor Kathy Hochul was roundly criticized for banning all elective surgeries in New York even before the Omicron variant had reached the United States. Critics said she was putting thousands of lives at risk. As of Tuesday, New York had just five reported cases of the variant which led many to call on the democrat to end the surgery ban.
Dr. Warner Greene, director of HIV research at the Gladstone Institute, told USA Today, “It would be a great thing if, in fact, omicron crowded out delta. If omicron was a less pathogenic virus, that would be very good news for the human race.”
He told reporters that there has not been an increase in deaths or people in the hospital needing oxygen at this point.
Early data out of South Africa is encouraging, Green said. “This looks to be a highly infectious virus, but it may not be as virulent or as pathogenic as the delta variant.”
During a White House Task Force meeting on Tuesday, Biden’s Fauci said, “Hopefully in the next few weeks, we’ll get a much clearer picture… But it appears that with the cases that are seen, we are not seeing a very severe profile of disease. In fact, it might be — and I underscore might be — less severe as shown by the ratio of hospitalizations per number of new cases,” the Washington Post reports.
Health experts are beginning to say that covid has mutated into what may become considered an “annual flu” outbreak with relatively no more deaths than a typical year prior to the pandemic.
The former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner, Dr. Scott Gottlieb, stated as much over the weekend.
During “Face the Nation” on CBS News he said the U.S. is “close” to the end of the pandemic. “I think that we’re close to the end of the pandemic phase of this virus, and we’re going to enter a more endemic phase and as things improve, cases may pick up,” Gottlieb said.
–Dwight Widaman | Metro Voice