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Don’t underestimate “mild” – COVID-19 isn’t a chicken wing 🍗

Let’s start with the good news. The latest COVID-19 variant, Omicron, is less likely to do lung damage based on experimental evidence (1,2,3). Per person infected, there are lower rates of hospitalization and death than previous variants (4). But, what’s mild for an individual might not be mild for a community. Omicron is still hospitalizing and killing people.

If Omicron is half as dangerous to an individual as Delta, but twice as many people are exposed, then the community experiences the same risk.

The bad news: Omicron is more transmissible than all previous variants (5). We’ve seen the highest number of cases reported so far in the pandemic (and with limited testing, these are an underestimate) (6). More infections means more hospitalizations than previous waves. We’re already seeing hospital and ICU cases growing in Canada (7,8). The number of kids hospitalized is record high in the US and parts of Canada (9, 10).

Here is some hopeful news. Though infection rates are similar between vaccinated and unvaccinated, the rates of hospitalization and ICU are significantly lower among those with a vaccine (11,12). Protection is even stronger when you have three doses (13). The vaccines are doing their job. Today is a great day to book your first, second, or third dose.



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