Happy New Year!
I am going to go out on a limb here and say that 2022 is going to be a far better year for our Health PEI team than was 2021. I say that even as we are heading into a tough 4 or so weeks as Omicron cases continue to rise exponentially and will result in more hospitalizations.
Why my optimism? More studies continue to be reported from several places, including yesterday from my former colleagues at Public Health Ontario. All are showing that Omicron infections result in substantially fewer admissions, shorter admissions when they do occur, and less need for ICU care. Two doses of vaccine continue to protect us very well from serious disease (although not infection which is one of the main reasons for the push for booster doses), and PEI has a very high rate of vaccination. South Africa has already shown that far fewer people died from Omicron than from Delta and I expect we will see that confirmed in other countries in a week or so.
Omicron became the #1 variant this past year for a few key reasons: it is super contagious, it was able to infect vaccinated people, and it caused milder disease which meant people were less likely to be home in bed (or in the hospital) and more likely to be out and about, allowing the virus to infect more people. This is the “sweet spot” for a virus, and why it is unlikely that yet another variant will come along that is even more contagious yet more deadly—that’s not the way evolution works.
A colleague of mine once said about influenza that “the one thing predictable about flu is that it is unpredictable”. This was in response to the annual and inevitable queries from the media about how bad the upcoming flu season was going to be. The same thing of course can be said about this pandemic. Nobody can predict with certainty what 2022 will bring, but I have to tell you that I have a great deal of hope. We are getting through this, with the added benefit that we are going to come out the other side much stronger than we were. The wheels haven’t fallen off the bus and in fact, we are building a better bus!
So good riddance to 2021 and welcome 2022!
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