Dear Members of the Baylor College of Medicine Community,
We have learned a lot about the Omicron variant in the past week. It is making its way across the globe, including the United States, Texas and Houston. South Africa still seems to be the hot spot globally. It is still too early to determine if Omicron will compete with Delta in the U.S. Delta remains the primary Covid variant in the country.
In this week’s video, along with updates on Omicron and its evolution, I also talk about the latest on the Covid situation in Europe. Austria is in its fourth national lockdown of the pandemic. That lockdown will end soon but restrictions will remain for unvaccinated people. Austria will implement a vaccine mandate early next year. Other countries are also seeing high rates of cases and new restrictions.
In the U.S., the number of cases has gone up by 27 percent over the past two weeks and the number of deaths, up by 13 percent. The most likely projection is that we will increase case number until late January and won’t come back down until early spring unless the vaccination rate goes up and more people wear masks. As a comparison, Japan’s number of cases peaked after the Olympics and went down as soon as vaccinations went up and public health measures were followed. The death rate from Covid has gone down by 70 percent in the past two weeks in Japan.
I also found some interesting information on infections and deaths vs vaccinations that I share in the video.
The next few weeks with holiday gatherings and more travel could be critical in determining how long the pandemic will last. The other significant issue is the weather. As the weather gets colder, and people gather more inside, it could cause numbers to go up. Again, vaccinations (including boosters) and masking are the key.
I hope you have a wonderful weekend. Be safe.
Paul Klotman, M.D.
President and CEO