Heather du Plessis-Allan: Are we freaking out a bit too much about Omicron?

Author
Heather du Plessis-Allan,
Publish Date
Fri, 17 Dec 2021, 4:21PM
(Photo / NZ Herald)
(Photo / NZ Herald)

Heather du Plessis-Allan: Are we freaking out a bit too much about Omicron?

Author
Heather du Plessis-Allan,
Publish Date
Fri, 17 Dec 2021, 4:21PM

I just wonder if we’re freaking out a bit too much about Omicron.   

It’s pretty clear that some people are quite alarmed, including Michael Baker who wants us to “turn down the tap” on Kiwis coming in from places like the UK to keep it out.  

There is no doubt if you look at the reports from overseas that Omicron is super infectious. 

A University of Hong Kong study reckons it multiplies 70 times faster in the bronchial tubes than Delta, which might explain why it spreads faster.

And it’s definitely driving a spike of cases in the UK. 

But at this stage, that’s about it.

It doesn’t look like it’s killing people or sending them to hospital at nearly the rate of the OG variants. 

The UK reported nearly 90,000 cases yesterday, which is a record high, but they’ve only recorded one Omicron death and he was unvaccinated.

NSW has had recorded a huge of number of cases today. They think Omicron is in the mix there.

But again, hospitalisations are really low. 

Today they recorded more than 2,200 cases; that’s a lot more than their previous peak of 1600 back on September 11. 

But back then they had 1,164 cases in hospital. Today they have 192.

Back then they had 221 people in intensive care. Today they have 26.

Back then they had 94 on respirators. Today they have 8.

Granted these are early days so information and circumstances can and almost certainly will change.

But all I’m hoping to do is just inject a few facts into the hysteria.

The PM’s already hinting she might delay reopening the international border next month.

But ask yourself why? What is the point in keeping it closed? 

We kept the border closed beforehand for a good reason: To get vaccinated.

And now we are vaccinated to 90 per cent across the country. 

So what’s the reason now?   

We can’t and we know we won’t keep Omicron out forever, so what would we buy time for? 

Boosters? Well according to the Immunisation Advisory Centre the people who need to those boosters for Omicron are the elderly and vulnerable and they’re already eligible for boosters.

As I say, things might change in the next couple of weeks.

But right now, there doesn’t seem to be reason to be freaking out quite at the level some people are.