How can I protect myself from the new omicron variants?
The same way to prevent COVID-19 caused by any other variant: if you have not been vaccinated, if you are eligible, get a booster vaccine, and strengthen other preventive measures that you may have relaxed, such as wearing a mask and avoiding crowd.
Although omicron has received all the attention, the overwhelming cause of infection and death in many places is still the delta variant, which is super-infectious.
“Delta is now a real risk. Omicron is an uncertain threat,” Dr. Francis Collins, president of the National Institutes of Health, told the Associated Press. Regardless of the type of coronavirus, Collins says “we know what to do.”
It will take a few weeks to learn about the key aspects of this latest variant, including whether it is more contagious, whether it will cause more serious disease or evade immunity—if so, to what extent.
At the same time, “what we need to do is add more layers of protection,” said Dr. Julie Vaishampayan of the American Academy of Infectious Diseases. This is especially important for holiday trips and upcoming parties.
Booster shooting is one of these layers. The increased dose triggered a substantial increase in antiviral antibodies. Even if the effects of these antibodies on omicron are not as good as those on other variants, as long as there are more antibodies, they can make up for it-in addition to strengthening the protection of delta.
In addition to sheltering, avoiding crowds, and improving ventilation, testing is another protective step. This method is recommended for anyone who has symptoms of COVID-19 or may have been exposed to the virus. But it also helps ensure safety before the holiday party, even if everyone who attends is vaccinated, Vaishampayan said.