Dear Members of the Baylor College of Medicine Community,
What a difference a week has made in Omicron numbers. The variant has now been identified in more than 85 countries and throughout the United States. In just a week, Omicron went from accounting for less than 20 percent of the COVID cases in the U.S. to more than 72 percent of the cases.
In a recent study, researchers frond that the Omicron variant infects and multiplies 70 times faster than the Delta variant and the original SARS-CoV2 which may explain why Omicron may transmit faster than previous variants. The study also showed that the Omicron infection in the lung is significantly lower than the original virus which may also be why there is lower disease severity.
It is clear that Omicron is spreading quickly and resulting in breakthrough cases. Unvaccinated people face a 10 times greater risk of getting infected and 20 times greater risk of dying from Covid-19 than fully vaccinated people who have also received a booster. Please be vigilant about wearing masks in indoor public settings and avoiding large gatherings. If you are gathering with family for the holidays, please consider having everyone take an at home rapid test immediately before gathering.
In this week’s video, I go over all this information and the Covid numbers globally, nationally and locally. Please encourage those who are not vaccinated to get the vaccine to protect themselves and others. Same is true for getting a booster. Getting vaccinated and boosted will be the best gift of all this year.
As we were finalizing this week’s video, we got the great news that the FDA has authorized the first Covid pills, from both Pfizer and Merck, for emergency use. The initial supply of the antiviral drug will be limited.
And, you can catch a glimpse of Lily this week anxiously waiting to see if Santa brings her everything she put on her list.
Have a safe and happy holiday. Next week’s message will be sent on Wednesday where I answer many of the questions I have received this month.
Paul Klotman, M.D.
President & CEO