“Twindemic” Warning: Omicron Variant May Have Genetic Snippet From Common Cold Virus
Scientists and health experts are encouraging all eligible people to get both flu vaccine and COVID booster shots, ahead of a potential “twindemic,” in which COVID-19 and flu cases rise at the same time.
Pfizer’s effectiveness drops down to 47% from 88% six months after the second dose, according to data published in the Lancet medical journal. U.S. health agencies considered this data when deliberating on the need for booster shots. Booster shots are available to anyone over the age of 18 in San Francisco at the moment.
“Delta is enough of a problem as it is. We don’t want people ending up at the hospital with Delta and people winding in the hospital with the influenza and hospital beds getting filled and the ICU beds getting with both of these patients,” Dr. John Swartzberg, UC Berkeley Clinical Professor Emeritus & Infectious Disease Expert said to ABC7.
A release from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) noted an increase in rates of influenza around the country in November, which is consistent with the annually observed increase in flu activity around October. The CDC also recommends all eligible people to get a flu vaccine, which would protect against four different flu viruses, alongside the booster shot for COVID-19.
Just last week, the first Omicron case was found in San Francisco, the SF Chronicle reported. It remains uncertain how infectious Omicron is, but a research preprint suggests omicron could transmit more easily while causing asymptomatic symptoms because it contains genetic material potentially from the same virus that causes the common cold.
Omicron might be making itself look “more human,” which would help it evade attack by the human immune system, Venky Soundararajan said to CNBC. Soundararajan is a part of Cambridge, Massachusetts-based data analytics firm nference, who led the study posted on Thursday on the website OSF Preprints.
According to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Nov. 28 update, early evidence suggests people who have previously had COVID-19 could become more easily reinfected with Omicron.