Why is it so hard to say right now if the omicron variant will be worse than other covid variants?
There have been a lot of scary headlines about omicron, but in reality, there is still a lot we don’t know. While it appears to be more contagious than the delta variant, even that is not confirmed yet.
That’s because each version of COVID-19 encounters a different population.
When it first surfaced, no one had immunity. When delta popped up, some people had antibodies from already surviving COVID. Now omicron is running into people with natural immunity and vaccine immunity. So it is hard to compare and contrast until you find similar patients with comparable health histories.
Initial reports less severe
Initial reports from South Africa appear to show omicron is not as severe as previous versions. But experts say to take that with a grain of salt, too.
While it has spread rapidly in South Africa, most of the cases so far have been in young people, who tend not to get severe disease.
The Wall Street Journal reports the province seeing the largest outbreak is seeing similar rates of hospitalizations as with previous waves.
Evolving virus complex and random
Some people believe that over time, a virus will evolve to become more transmissible and less deadly, allowing the virus to survive. But people who actually study viruses say that is not a rule. While viruses can evolve to be less severe they can also become more deadly. Unfortunately, viruses can be complex and random.