The risks here for older adults are terrifying: For example, a 0.45% rate equates to a death rate of 1 in 220 for a 75-year-old woman who has been vaccinated against the disease. Covid. If the risks remain near these levels for Omicron, they could lead to tens of thousands of American deaths and more hospitalizations.
Encouragingly, there are reasons to believe that Omicron’s mortality rate may be lower. Three new studies published yesterday suggest that Omicron cause milder illness average compared to previous versions of the virus. “I would guess that the risk of dying with Omicron is much smaller” than with earlier variants, Dr George Rutherford of the University of California, San Francisco, told me yesterday.
A reassuring comparison is the common seasonal flu. In other words, the average death rate among Americans over 65 with the flu has ranged from 1 in 75 to 1 in 160 in recent years, according to CDC Pre-Omicron versions of Covid, in other words. , there seems to be a risk of a similar ordering. importance to people being vaccinated as a typical flu. Some years, flu infections can be more dangerous.
With Omicron, “I don’t think the risk is too high for people who are relatively fit and healthy in their 70s,” Janet Baseman, an epidemiologist at the University of Washington, told me. “I think it is moderate at least.”
However, Baseman and other experts recommend vigilance, for a number of reasons. First, the flu kills tens of thousands of Americans each year, and we should probably pay more attention to it. (After falling last year amid social distancing, now flu cases are on the rise again, as these Times charts show.)
Second, Omicron is so contagious that it has the potential to spill over into hospitals and cause many preventable deaths even if only a fraction of infections are severe. Azra Ghani of Imperial College London said: ‘We’re not here to treat this as a cold.
Baseman said that if she was in her 70s, her top worries would be being moderately ill, needing standard medical care and not being able to go to overcrowded hospitals. Dr. Aaron Richterman of the University of Pennsylvania told me, “There is a good reason for reasonable efforts to minimize transmission, especially over the next four weeks.”