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The new Omicron strain of COVID-19 could be really bad, and we may not know how bad for weeks

A new COVID-19 variant has been identified with some very concerning features. Dubbed Omicron, it’s rapidly spreading in the southern region of Africa and an increasing number of countries around the world, and the news has rocked government policy and financial markets over the last two days.

Despite the drama, however, we don’t yet know very much about just how bad Omicron is, and the range of possibilities remains very wide.

So I’m going to break down this rapidly evolving situation, telling you what we know, what we don’t know, when we’ll know more, what to watch for, and what you can do about it.

Key points:

  • Omicron has a heavily mutated genome that’s worrying scientists
  • It’s still early, and we’re not yet clear how bad Omicron is; whether it has increased transmissibility, virulence, or immune escape, and how much
  • We will know a lot more about this in just two weeks
  • Omicron does not appear to evade PCR or antigen tests — good news, we can track it!
  • Omicron is not yet common in the USA and likely will not be for at least several weeks, even in the bad scenario. But it’s quite possible this can turn into a big deal.
  • The big fear is that Omicron overcomes existing immunity (because of the high mutations) and becomes an ‘escape variant,’ which overwhelms our already-at-the-limit systems like hospitals.
  • Vaccine companies are already rushing to update the vaccines, but it will likely take around 100 days to arrive (eg. March 1st). That’s enough time for Omicron to spread and cause damage, if it turns out to be as bad as early data signals it could be.

How to think about Omicron or any new variant: eyes on the data

The progress of the pandemic over the last year has been heavily influenced by the evolution of SARS-CoV-2. In our “think piece” on how to think about variants, in January 2021, we identified three properties a variant might have that could be important: greater transmissibility, greater virulence, and immune escape.

The major variants seen since then, which we now call Alpha, Beta, Gamma, and Delta, fall into all three categories. Alpha and especially Delta are more transmissible and virulent than the wild type, but don’t evade the immune system very much. By contrast, Beta efficiently evades immunity to the AstraZeneca vaccine, but not other vaccines or natural immunity, and Gamma evades natural immunity to the wild type SARS-CoV-2 virus, but not to vaccines.

My evaluation of Omicron will come within this same general framework: using data gathered from many sources to determine which of these properties Omicron has, and how bad.

What we know about Omicron: it’s heavily mutated and spreading rapidly

It’s only been a few days since Omicron first came to the world’s attention, and what we know is pretty limited. It comes from two main sources: genome sequencing and contact tracing.

Genome:

Omicron’s genome has been sequenced, revealing a lot of important information. It’s heavily mutated, including over 30 mutations in the spike protein, which include both known mutations from major SARS-CoV-2 variants, and novel ones of unknown function.

Omicron is not a descendant of Delta, but appears to date back to some of the same lineages that gave rise to Beta, which also appears to have arisen in South Africa.

Viral geneticists have speculated that this kind of mutation pattern, with many mutations appearing all at once, could be the result of a chronic infection in an immunocompromised individual — those people are unique breeding grounds for mutations. The Beta and Delta variants also exhibit this kind of mutation pattern. With its large population of AIDS patients, South Africa may be particularly prone to create this kind of mutation.

The genome of Omicron does not appear to signal any incompatibility with existing tests. Both PCR and antigen tests should register cases of Omicron as well as they register cases of other variants.

So, good news: Omicron did not mutate an invisibility cloak.

Contact tracing:

Omicron is spreading rapidly in South Africa, where increasing numbers of cases of Omicron have been sequenced in recent days. This has been occurring at the same time as a rapid increase in COVID-19 cases in South Africa, but because of the low coverage of genome sequencing of COVID-19 cases in South Africa, it’s been hard to tell how related these things are.

The case data in South Africa over the last week have been extremely chaotic, with one day showing nearly 20,000 cases in one day, so the magnitude of the upward trend isn’t that clear. In addition, the case loads there were small to begin with, which means that individual super-spreading clusters can have an outsized impact on national aggregates. Although it looks like Omicron is outspreading other strains, mostly Delta, in South Africa, how much faster is unclear.

Also unclear is how much the greater spread, if it is sustained, is driven by higher R0, which would affect unvaccinated populations particularly badly, and how much by immune escape, which would partially nullify the advantages of vaccinated areas and populations. Unlike most developed countries, South Africa is only about 25% vaccinated.

Cases of Omicron have been sequenced in eight countries in the southern region of Africa, and also in Hong Kong, Israel, and Belgium. More countries will certainly follow. The index cases in Hong Kong and Israel were traced to South Africa and Malawi, but the Belgian case had traveled to Egypt and Turkey, not any countries in the southern region, which suggests that Omicron may already be more widely dispersed than we currently know.

However, certain countries, like Israel, the UK, and the United States, do engage in widespread genomic surveillance of COVID-19 cases, and if Omicron had significant case numbers in any of those countries, we would find out swiftly. This puts an approximate ceiling on any estimates of Omicron prevalence and dispersion.

What we don’t know about Omicron: Transmissibility, Virulence, and Immune Escape

There’s a lot we don’t know:

  • Whether it’s more transmissible than Delta (higher R0)
  • Whether it’s more virulent than Delta
  • Whether it causes significant immune escape, and if so, how bad and from which sources of immunity

The noisy data from South Africa, combined with credulous interpretations, have led to some hyperbolic claims, like the notion that Omicron:

There is no grounds to conclude these things yet, and if I had to speculate, I would guess none of them will turn out to be true.

A lot of claims about Omicron will be floating around in the coming days, weeks, and months, and it’s critical to keep our eyes on the data, and the distinction between data and speculation.

The reaction to Omicron: Panic, travel restrictions, and a market crash

The WHO reacted swiftly, holding an emergency meeting only days into the new outbreak — good job team. At this meeting, the designation Omicron was bestowed on what had been known as B1.1.529, and it was designated a Variant of Concern. Scientists have clearly been rattled by the highly mutated genome and rapid spread of Omicron.

Governments around the world have reacted swiftly — good job team — imposing travel bans on (mainly) the eight countries in southern Africa that have most of the known cases. The USA has imposed heavy restrictions on travel from these countries to begin Monday, and airlines are expected to cancel their flights. Israel has also taken the step of preparing for an internal emergency, with Prime Minister Bennet saying he may ban travel out of Israel to protect other countries, and alerting national security and public health officials they may soon be working around the clock.

Epidemiologists have described travel restrictions as largely fruitless at attaining a hermetic seal and preventing a major new strain from entering countries, but have said that in some cases they can delay the emergence of a major outbreak in a new country by weeks or even months, by reducing introgression to a smaller number of cases. In cases like this the major question is what countries do with the time bought by travel restrictions, and whether the disruptions and imposition on the public is worth it.

Financial markets have reacted with dismay, as global equities have sold off by several percent, led by travel stocks and energy commodities, which are down about 10%. Many analysts expect the selloff to continue, especially if the bad news continues.

When we’ll learn the answers to the big questions

Certain important questions will be answered quickly. The trend of COVID-19 case numbers in South Africa, the role of Omicron in that trend, and the extent to which it’s driven by ongoing high R rather than superspreader events, will likely emerge over the next two weeks. In addition, scientists at pharmaceutical companies and in academic labs have said that early in-vitro results on Omicron’s relationship with vaccines, convalescent immunity, and antibody drugs, should be available within two weeks.

Some other forms of evidence will be slower to arrive, like reliable quantitative estimates of spread and R in different places, and hospital-based cohort studies which will produce early estimates of virulence. They may begin to arrive within the next few weeks, but a clear picture could take months to emerge.

What will happen if Omicron is a major immune escape variant

A lot depends on how bad the immune escape is. Both Beta and Gamma are partial immune escape variants, Beta against the AZ vaccine and Gamma against convalescent immunity, and they caused real problems in Brazil and South Africa, but neither proved to be a huge deal globally. Omicron could follow this path.

In a nightmare scenario where Omicron proved completely resistant to immunity from convalescents, all vaccines, and monoclonal antibodies, we would be essentially back to square one, with control only attainable with public health measures like quarantines and lockdowns, until new vaccines and antibodies started arriving. But many experts seem to expect Omicron to follow a middle course, with greater immune escape than Beta and Gamma, but less than total evasion.

In addition, even if Omicron evades immunity to infect people, they may retain some protection from more serious outcomes — they get more sick than they would’ve from other strains, but not as sick as they’d get (eg. hospital) if they weren’t vaccinated.

To the extent that Omicron evades major vaccines, highly vaccinated countries and people will be made vulnerable again, and high levels of COVID-19 spread will be more likely to hit them. The world could be awash in cases of Omicron.

In addition, we’ll see a change in the speed of events, back to “fast.” Early in the pandemic, we remarked at the stunning rapidity of the spread of COVID-19, and reaction to that spread. With R at 2 in some places and .4 in others, tenfold and hundredfold changes in COVID-19 numbers could occur in weeks. As the pandemic turned into a trench war, with highly transmissible strains deadlocking with highly effective vaccines, and the public used to dialing precautions up and down, R started to become constrained in a narrow range, and major changes in trend started to take months. We’ve already seen events start to move faster thanks to Omicron, and this will likely continue if Omicron is a major escape variant.

We may see major differences in how Omicron evades different forms of immunity. Other escape strains have been like this; Beta evades the AZ vaccine almost totally, and Gamma evades convalescent immunity by over 50%, but neither of them does much to the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines. Right now, we have about 15 major vaccines worldwide, and about four major antibody drugs, plus natural immunity to several major variants in different populations. Depending on the pattern of evasion exhibited by Omicron, the path of events could look very different.

Although vaccines and antibodies may be evaded by Omicron, early analyses of the Omicron genome in relation to mechanisms of action suggests that small molecule drugs, like remdesivir and dexamethasone, and upcoming small molecule therapies like Pfizer’s Paxlovid and Merck’s molnupiravir, are likely to continue working against Omicron.

If Omicron does prove to be a major escape variant, affected vaccine and antibody manufacturers will generate new versions of their therapies as quickly as they can. As I’ve previously reported, mRNA vaccines will be quickest to transition to new versions. Pfizer and BioNTech have said they will be able to ship small quantities of an Omicron-optimized vaccine for early study in as little as six weeks, and produce them in volume in 100 days. Moderna may actually be able to ship an Omicron vaccine faster than Pfizer, because their Delta-and-Beta-based bivalent booster shot is already in the clinic, and may work against Omicron due to the mutations it has in common with Delta and Beta. However, adenovirus, protein, and attenuated virus-based vaccines, and antibody drugs, are likely to take longer to transition to new sequences and attain volume production.

What you can do about Omicron right now

The most important lesson of Omicron is general: the pandemic is not over. You still need to keep your preps up. This lesson applies even if Omicron turns out to be much less threatening than now seems likely.

The overall implication of Omicron as a major escape variant, if this scenario materializes, is that we may have to temporarily return to the kind of precautions we took before the vaccines hit the USA in force.  You might have to stay home and cancel almost everything. N95 masks, instant COVID-19 tests, toilet paper and other items may sell out again, and it may start soon. If there’s anything you need to be prepared for this possibility, get it now.

It’s also a good idea to carefully think about upcoming large events and travel, and how you’d adjust your plans if the data on Omicron looked bad.

Luckily, we still have some time before Omicron could become common in the USA, likely several weeks to a couple of months. This is time you can use to prepare.

And, if Omicron does cause massive problems, it will likely end a lot more quickly than it did the first time. Vaccine manufacturers only have to transition their vaccines to new sequences, not start from scratch. An Omicron-specific booster would likely be only one shot. Distribution is already scaled up.

We’ll probably know in a few weeks whether Omicron is likely to cause serious problems in the USA. But you can prepare now, and the measures needed now are likely to be good ideas whether Omicron turns out to be bad or not.


  • 43 Comments

    • Chris Cox

      Thank you, sir.

      6 |
    • Tony B

      Thanks for this timely coverage and advice!

      4 |
    • Eric

      “Has an R0 500% higher than the Wild Type and 3.5 times as high as Delta”

      I think you’ve misunderstood Dr Eric Feigl-Ding’s tweet. He said Omicron had a 500% competitive advantage over Delta, which means that it spreads 500% faster under the same circumstances. He’s not making any claims about how much of that advantage comes from R0 vs immune escape. Of course it’s likely to be a mix of both.

      “Went from 1% to 80% of South African COVID-19 cases in less than two weeks”

      That sounds like a direct description of the data. What’s the reason for doubting this?

      4 |
      • Ari Allyn-FeuerContributor Eric

        Thanks for asking.

        Dr. Feigl-Ding understands this distinction, but I’ve seen the credulous/incorrect version of the claim circulating.  But the link wasn’t handy when I was linking up this post.

        The 80% number is not a direct description of the data; South Africa is not sequencing a random subset of its positive samples and reporting lineage trends over time, in the manner of the USA and UK and some other countries.  The 80% number, and that FT figure, are based on some contentious modeling assumptions that are controversial among experts.  E.g. you can see the Times interviewing Dr. Hanage about it here: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/11/26/health/omicron-variant-vaccines.html

        3 |
      • Eric Ari Allyn-Feuer

        “The 80% number, and that FT figure, are based on some contentious modeling assumptions that are controversial among experts.  E.g. you can see the Times interviewing Dr. Hanage about it here:”

        The article doesn’t actually mention any contentious modeling assumptions. Would you please list those more explicitly with a reference?

        3 |
      • Ari Allyn-FeuerContributor Eric

        Also, the 500% number for R in the current circumstance is probably a high end estimate for some data reasons.  It may be significantly lower than that for some of the reasons I discuss, and others.

        4 |
    • Oldprepper

      It seems to me that although a very informative piece….and technically dissected and analyzed ……what is important to me (and an assumption is it may be to others) is that many countries throughout the world have been virtually closed for the last (almost) two years….. So many have been bankrupted and driven to despair.

      Many have died because of lack of ‘something’……….. whether that means attention, surgery, finances etc……… and have in many cases exceeded the damage the actual virus would have done.

      What is absolute is that another lock-down is not fiscally responsible…the cost and effect of social discourse should not be allowed on the basis of international commerce….equity……or international cooperation.

      What is known at this time is that its effect will exceed that of the previous variations to a significant degree and we can suppose that our governments will react on the basis of that assumption with further confusion, huge cost, and so very little to show for it.

      I would offer that previous attempts at containing this contagion have been limited with confusion and contradictory information from scientists…..CDC and WHO and dare I say it…..questionable information!

      Take one major southern US State that disregarded the scientists who has the lowest infection rate and the maximum possible freedoms…and many would ask HOW? Are they wrong? when the facts say they are not?

      There is no need to close down the USA……. just close down any country that has any new type of virus until biochemists actually get a fully universal vaccine for Covid.

      At the very least close them all till we get a handle on it!………….

      0 |
      • Eric Oldprepper

        Sounds like you’re frustrated. I am too. We all want the virus to just go away and leave us alone. We’re willing to put some effort into getting rid of this, but only if we think it will actually work.

        Closing things down is just one of the ways to fight the virus. As you point out, closing down is too expensive to continue long term, so it should be a last resort. There are lots of other things we can do to protect ourselves, our families, and our communities. Here’s my best attempt at a list of options.

        • Stay relaxed. Shamelessly stolen from brownfox’s list because it’s so important. Just take one step at a time, trying not to worry about whether it’s enough.
        • Get vaccinated, including boosters. That’s 2 shots for J&J or 3 shots for Pfizer/Moderna.
        • Upgrade your mask to N95, which provides much stronger protection than the cloth masks that most people wear. https://theprepared.com/gear/reviews/best-gas-mask-respirator-survival/
        • Learn to wear your mask properly. The mask should seal around the edges, so that air passes through the mask rather than around it. The best masks are moldable to fit the shape of your nose. https://theprepared.com/blog/how-to-safely-put-on-and-remove-personal-protective-equipment-like-masks-gloves/
        • Avoid crowds, especially indoors. If this is impossible due to your job, talk to your employer about…
        • Ask your employer to improve ventillation in your workplace. This could be anything from opening windows, to meeting customers outside, to installing UV in the air conditioning.
        9 |
      • Cat L Oldprepper

        Which US southern state that has disregarded science has the lowest infection rate and maximum freedoms? That sounds like an oxymoron. 

        1 |
      • Eric Cat L

        The US state with the lowest infection rate, by far, is Hawaii. They’re also the most southern state. But I have no reason to accuse them of disregarding science. As far as I can tell they’ve put a lot of effort into controlling COVID, and are getting exactly the result you would expect. I’m sure it also helps that they’re an island, so they don’t need to worry about states with higher infection rates sending new cases over the border every day, and they reduce the risk of incoming flights via mandatory quarantine for unvaccinated travelers.

        But that’s a bit of a digression. I think OP’s main point is that there are so many contradictory stories floating around, and it’s hard to know what to believe. Hard, but not impossible. We’re fortunate to have Ari putting together summaries like this to keep us informed about the latest events, as he really seems to know what he’s talking about. And we can also help each other to learn how to prepare for and deal with whatever the next wave brings.

        2 |
      • Oldprepper Eric

        Eric …I think that reflects my opinion……there are too many alternate theories being thrown around.

        I personally prefer to take my lead from those that are decisive and have verifiable data when taking treatment.

        There are many of those who have been beaten into silence……by those that really dont know…. when all technical input needs to be considered to beat this thing.

        Ari’s efforts are appreciated by all…….

        See: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=385_5OOV8-M&t=380s

        Its interesting that when faced with the figures…….NIH director cannot explain why Florida has lowest infection rate in nation and apparently the result defies ‘accepted’ science!

        0 |
      • Cia Oldprepper

        I’m replying to your comment about sources which was in my in-box.  One source is the VAERS, administered by the FDA. As of a month ago, there had been 18,461 deaths reported to it believed to have been caused by the Covid vaccine. Many of the reports will have been mistaken, but it’s also true that many occurred which were not recognized or reported as vaccine-related. I reported my daughter’s reaction years ago: the VAERS worker asked many questions sympathetically and contacted the hospital. Asked me a year later if the disability had been permanent. It is not the case that tens of thousands of malicious people filed fraudulent reports which were accepted by VAERS.

        VAERS COVID Vaccine Data Show Surge in Reports of Serious Injuries, as 5-Year-Olds Start Getting Shots

        1 |
      • Oldprepper Cia

        OK..thank you

        1 |
      • Oldprepper Cat L

        Perhaps I should have said CDC ‘science’ which seems to have less to do with science and more to do with how many patents can be obtained at the cost of the population in general.

        I was actually talking about Florida who when compared to say NY or California are doing better. Perhaps much better when you consider personal freedoms and social costs.

        -1 |
      • Cia Oldprepper

        Florida had a huge number of cases which ended in death. As a result of having so few vaccines and having rejected masking through laws, it experienced the Big Burn and now has considerable herd immunity through natural infection. Most of us would rather not pay that price in deaths.

        4 |
      • Oldprepper Cia

        Cia…. I do remember that the administration took some drugs that were meant for Florida and redirected elsewhere.

        Please see my reply to Eric above that refers to a very important unanswered questions. (Check out the video)

        0 |
      • Eric Oldprepper

        Hi OP. I watched your video. I can only guess why the NIH director didn’t answer that question, and instead chose to focus on promoting the benefits of vaccination. Probably he wanted to avoid a complicated topic that would confuse people. But I think this group of people can handle that complexity, and I would be happy to answer the question.

        We recently had a big wave of infection in this country due to the Delta variant. The wave hit some states earlier and faster, such as Florida, Louisiana, Arkansas, and Texas. That’s probably because, as you said, these states are not trying as hard to stop the infection. (There were also separate waves starting a bit later in Texas, spilling over from the Mexican border, and in eastern Washington/Oregon.) The wave then spread out across the country, with infections flowing across the borders from one state to another. By now, the less careful people in Florida have already become infected and will have increased immunity for the next 4-6 months, while the wave is just starting to reach places like New York that are further from where the wave started.

        This actually illustrates the problem very well. It’s very hard for any state to control the infection within its own borders when there are so many infections flowing across the borders due to other states, such as Florida, that just let the disease run wild. That said, it’s very clear that the wave became less severe as it crossed from West Virginia into Pennsylvania and New York, probably because those states do a better job of infection control.

        Here’s a list that ranks each state by how many infections per 100,000 people over the entire course of the pandemic. You’ll see that Florida ranks as one of the worst by this metric. You’ll also see that the two islands, Hawaii and Puerto Rico, rank the best by a very large margin. This shows the advantage of not needing to share borders with other states that allow infections to flow across the border. It’s substantially harder to control infection in your own state when cases are spilling across the border from a neighbor that is less careful.

        https://www.statista.com/statistics/1109004/coronavirus-covid19-cases-rate-us-americans-by-state/

        6 |
      • Cia Oldprepper

        In August, Florida had the highest number of Covid cases and deaths in the country. https://www.healthline.com/health-news/why-florida-is-the-hardest-hit-state-during-this-covid-19-surge

        As a state, it may have strong immunity to Delta now both because of natural immunity and vaccines. But it got there through its very high number of deaths in August, a result partially of there being few mask mandates. 

        Rates of excess mortality can be considered if you think Covid deaths are either deliberately over- or undercounted. All of us are appalled by the classic Covid deaths which never occurred before two years ago. I think we have to accept that while it’s still raging, neither our society nor our economy will get back to normal, and we shouldn’t just ignore  Covid because we’ve had enough of it. I disagree that those in favor of letting it rage and getting natural immunity have a right to make that decision for those in favor of measures. It’s not enough even for self-protection to mask yourself and get all the recommended vaccines if some or many around you are not. 

        5 |
      • Cia Oldprepper

        As Francis Collins said, vaccines are the best defense. Until someone pays for the drugs for himself or the group he represents, one sick person in need of them is as worthy as another. 

        4 |
      • Eric Oldprepper

        Hi OP. Determining what sources to trust can unfortunately be complicated. Here’s my impressions on the items that you shared.

        [Edit: Oldprepper’s post with references to two articles has disappeared. I’m leaving my response up anyway.]

        The Lancet is typically a good source of information. That particular article is classified as a “letter” which means that it doesn’t get the level of quality review that research papers would receive. It’s similar to the “opinion” section that you would find in many news channels.

        RT is a Russian propaganda outlet and should just be ignored entirely.

        I would not say that either article is “wrong” but rather that they tell half the story in a way that tricks people into reaching a wrong conclusion. It is true that vaccinated people can still spread the disease. It’s also true that vaccinated people spread the disease less than unvaccinated people, and that getting more people vaccinated helps both the people who get vaccinated as well as everyone else around them.

        5 |
      • Oldprepper Eric

        Eric

        I regret that we shall have to leave it there and agree to disagree …….given so many ‘facts’……. in your reply that some would dispute…..

        But thanks anyway!

        -1 |
      • Cia Eric

        Like the many reports of high numbers of cases in the vaccinated without adding that very few of the vaxxed died of them, while many unvaxxed people did. I now look for the missing words, and their absence tells you that the writer was aware that he was concealing the whole truth, which is that vaccination protects against nearly all severe and fatal cases, and reduces transmission.

        4 |
    • Karl Winterling

      My “gut feeling” is that the 500% and 1% to 80% numbers are examples of people panicking based on “worst-case scenario” early interpretations of limited data and the (more rational) attitude that it’s usually better to assume the worst is true and overreact until you have more information. If you’re making decisions for a hospital, for instance, it’s better if you overreact than if it turns out to be bad and hospitals aren’t anywhere near being ready for it.

      4 |
      • Eric Karl Winterling

        All of us have a role in preparing for emergencies. Those of us who aren’t running hospitals still need to prepare our own households to minimize the disruption. We know something is coming – we’re just not quite certain how big it is. We need to take steps to avoid infection, as well as reducing reliance on hospitals that will be strained.

        The 500% figure is coming from specialists in this field who haven’t shown any signs of panic. They know the picture is fuzzy, and have said as much, but what they can see so far looks bad. They sounded the alarm quickly, and appropriately, and have continued the work to double check everything. We’ll get more details in the coming weeks.

        Until then, we already have enough information to start preparing ourselves, our families, and our communities. Omicron sounds a lot like Delta, except more extreme in the same direction. So if we do a better job preparing for Delta, we’ll also be better positioned for Omicron. And if Omicron disappeared tomorrow (unlikely), that preparation would still help us with Delta. There’s just no downside to doing this work.

        7 |
      • Karl Winterling Eric

        I agree. Better safe than sorry.

        2 |
    • Eric

      Anecdotal report that Omicron has different symptoms than other COVID variants: intense fatigue and high pulse rate.

      https://www.telegraph.co.uk/global-health/science-and-disease/south-african-doctor-raised-alarm-omicron-variant-says-symptoms/

      Does this mean that Omicron causes less severe illness? It’s too early to draw that conclusion, but there is at least reason to hope. More importantly, from a preparedness standpoint, is to treat high pulse and unexplained fatigue the same way you previously would have treated coughing and fever. Isolate, get tested, and make an appointment for antibody treatment.

      4 |
      • Cia Eric

        I think the severe fatigue and tachycardia have also been features of Covid Original from the beginning. I had both nearly two years ago (along with many other symptoms) when I had Covid, and even after recovery a short, easy walk caused my pulse to go up to 140 and take over an hour to go back to normal. The long Covid is an autoimmune reaction triggered by the virus, but many other viruses can cause this post-viral syndrome. 

        Also true that Covid Original attacked the lungs, heart, kidneys, brain, immune system, etc., from the beginning, often causing organ failure or permanent damage. I am waiting for additional details about Omicron. I don’t think we have anything like complete information yet. 

        3 |
      • Eric Cia

        I’m very sorry that you had to go through that. It sounds terrible

        1 |
      • Cia Eric

        Thank you. Like another commenter said, the breathlessness and air hunger are still occurring. And the POTS symptoms, new at the time, dizziness, excessive unexpected sweating, ataxia. I had MS to start with, but never in resolving and unrelenting like this. 

        2 |
      • Cia Eric

        I saw this article the other day, I think it’s very good. Millions of people have long Covid. I think most people don’t realize what a common and serious condition it is. I meant to say that the tachycardia resolved after nearly a year. 

        https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2021/11/health-care-workers-long-covid-are-being-dismissed/620801/

        4 |
      • Eric Cia

        Unfortunately, it’s far too common for people to think that COVID has a binary outcome, that you end up either dead or healthy/immune. Many people end up somewhere in between these extremes, with longer term damage and moderate protection from being infected a second time.

        That’s a good article. I very much wish we had more information about how many people develop long COVID, what causes it, how much vaccination reduces that risk, and how to cure it.

        3 |
      • Cia Eric

        Yes, I do too.

        1 |
    • Hardened

      Thank you.

      I suppose it’s time to stock up on instant COVID-19 tests, especially with better treatments around the corner.  Any favorites?

      4 |
      • Carlotta SusannaStaff Hardened

        Ari had suggested on a previous article the Abbott BinaxNow, which I personally used since. Haven’t tried others.

        p.s. just make sure to shop around: don’t know if it’s regional, but here Walgreens and CVS are charging twice the amount Walmart does.

        7 |
      • I think the government used the Defense Production Act to order retailers like Walgreens, CVS, and Walmart to sell OTC rapid test kits even if they’re taking a loss. Walmart usually tries to aggressively keep prices low, though.

        6 |
      • Cia Carlotta Susanna

        I bought a box of Binax Now from Walmart online: they were a lot cheaper than anything on Amazon.

        7 |
    • Eric

      DIY preps for hardening any space against COVID

      What’s the most likely place that you, or someone you want to protect, might get COVID? Here’s how to defend that space against COVID or any other airborne virus.

      COVID is airborne and inhaled in poorly ventilated spaces! Ventilate now!

      covid-filter

      [Instructions for creating COVID defense system]

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      • Eric Eric

        I decided to start a separate post/conversation about air filtration as a COVID defense strategy, including a link to duct tape. 🙂

        Wish the virus would just go away? Here’s how to make it happen. No mask required.

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      • Cia Eric

        Thanks! I love the kit! I appreciate the links, though the hurricane fan was a link when I clicked it to look at it, then lost the underline.

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      • Eric Cia

        Thanks for the feedback. This is my first time using kit builder. I tried to find the problem you mentioned with the fan link, but it works fine for me.

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    • Ess Dub

      Level-headed, rational analysis like this is why I keep returning to this site. Thank you.

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