But the variant that dominates now is the one that gives the least disease.
This is a comment. The commentary expresses the writer’s attitude
The start of 2022 has not been the very best. The home office must be excavated behind a rock with self-tests. The fun parties have been canceled. A wedding I heard about has been postponed for the third time. Children’s birthdays hang in a thin thread. And it’s closed at the pub.
At my house we have started backbiting the cat. There is nothing else to do. And the cat has put on weight at Christmas.
At the same time, there are reports that omicron is the mildest of the varieties we have had to deal with so far.
And there is something to talk about!
Gunnveig Grødeland immunologist said on Dagsrevyen on Wednesday that for most of the population, the pandemic is over. Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre rejected this shortly afterwards.
But maybe Grødeland and Støre are talking about a little different things?
Grødeland may be entitled to an individual level. Healthy and relatively young people who have been vaccinated with two or three doses have a negligible risk of being admitted due to the coronavirus.
But omikron is undoubtedly milder abroad. The experts compare people who have omicron and delta, and take into account age, vaccine status and so on. Maybe the new variant is half as pathogenic, maybe even milder.
FHIs Frode Forland said on Dagsnytt 18 on Wednesday that omikron is the least disease-causing of all the varieties we have become acquainted with. And VG’s own calculations with figures from abroad indicate the same.
And this is encouraging. Especially for those who are young, healthy and vaccinated.
But that does not mean the pandemic is over.
Because you can be infected, end up in quarantine, schools can be closed, hospitals full and there can be a shortage of bus drivers, teachers or other important labor.
That is why Støre is right too. Parts of society are in danger of stopping if we get a very fast infection.
We are seeing problems with this in the UK now, where they are struggling with staffing in hospitals, in public transport and in other industries. In US states, there is a queue to call 911 and a large absence in the health care system.
If a large part of the population ends up in isolation and quarantine, it affects us all. In Sweden municipalities are preparing for mass sickness absence.
Therefore, the arrow of infection should not look completely like a flagpole.
And although the omicron is milder, people with low immunity still have a much higher risk of becoming seriously ill. This applies to both unvaccinated and people with weakened immune systems.
Those who are hospitalized now are mostly in this group. They have not been vaccinated. Or the vaccines do not help them.
For them, we should make sure we have a stock of medicine that prevents hospitalization. For example, the new corona pills.
While this is not over, what has happened on the corona front this winter is encouraging.
During the past two years, the virus has mutated into more disease-causing and contagious variants. Delta is a worst.
Omikron reversed that trend. The variant sneaks away from the vaccines, but is thus milder.
And therefore Grødeland can say that the pandemic is over for a good part of us. In any case, it’s okay to start getting used to that thought.
Young healthy people do not have to go around being terrified of their health if they are infected with omikron. You probably get infected at some point. But with two and three doses in the arm, it provides good protection against serious illness.
At the same time, we can remind ourselves that it can be quite impractical with a lot of infection, and that it is still not the cold or flu we are talking about.
And although omikron behaves more mildly, we still have a variant that is about as tough as the original that appeared in China in 2020. And also with a formidable ability to spread.
Therefore, the infection rates will be high in the future.
If the goal is to flatten the curve, unfortunately it is probably not time for relief. For FHI estimates in its weekly report that the infection rate for omicrone is between 1.4 and 1.8.
It is high and means faster growth than we have been used to through the pandemic.
There will probably be fewer demands for pouring and relief when we get more days of record infection.
But is it dangerous with so much infection?
The big question ahead is how many of the infected become seriously ill and are admitted to Norway.
In Denmark and the United Kingdom, hospitals so far seem to be able to treat patients, even though it is very busy. Admissions went down in Denmark last 24 hours. The intensive care unit is also not flooded by patients. And in the midst of this wave, the Danes are demanding relief in the measures.
How will it be in Norway? Will we get more seriously ill and hospitalized here?
We have poorer immunity than both of these countries. But we continue to vaccinate while sticking to stricter measures.
And in a couple of weeks we may have the answer, here too. At least there will be more to talk about than the cat in the future.