Even so, we know they work really well at preventing hospital stays and deaths. And that doesn’t just apply to the mRNA vaccines. This also applies to other vaccines. And by the way, it’s true even before you even get a booster shot. In other words, if you’ve just had two syringes from Pfizer, two syringes from Moderna, you really are not going to be hospitalized or dying of COVID. It is very, very unlikely indeed, but there is a very good chance that you can contract it and spread it, and that is a problem.
Now we’ve seen a lot of headlines saying that Omicron is milder as a variant. And the reality is we don’t know. What we do know is that many more people are being vaccinated, and we also know that those who are vaccinated are especially among the most at risk. The oldest are the people with previous illnesses. This is a population that is very heavily vaccinated, almost 100% in some countries, which means the results are milder than Delta, simply because Omicron hits populations that are better protected from hospitalization and death. And that the people who aren’t vaccinated are first and foremost people who are unlikely to get COVID. Younger, healthier population. But we do not yet have any information about the extent to which you will get the same or more or less seriously ill than from Delta, even if you are unvaccinated and already have COVID. And that uncertainty is something we probably won’t have real data on for at least a week or two.
And I’m going to tell you that the epidemiologists I spoke to tell me that if they were to guess so far they would be guessing that it is probably about the same, or maybe a little milder, but not much, than Delta, and that most of the change is due to the change in population, as opposed to the effects of the disease.
OK. We also know that Omicron is spreading very, very quickly. That it will dominate in the UK and shortly as a variant. In the USA there are already 30 states that we know. That means it really is in every US state and within a few weeks it will be the dominant distribution in the United States. So yes, omicron will be home for Christmas. And also good news is that vaccinations are going up. We are seeing people getting vaccinated and getting their boosters faster as a result of the news about omicron.
However, the alarming spread among the vaccinated population groups could mean that hospitals are easily overwhelmed again. In the UK next week, that’s entirely possible. In Denmark it is quite possible. And in the US, that is absolutely possible in the coming month. So we’re not excited just yet, and that means you will see a lot of changes in terms of travel, vaccination records.
If you have two vaccines it is increasingly considered insufficient to be able to travel internationally, which is annoying for a lot of people because you kind of assumed it would be a week or two ago. Well no not so much. And what if you’ve been boosted? Well, you will likely need another refresher in six months. Even in all of the apps and vaccination records and papers that allow you to go to restaurants, shows, and travel, the places where these regulations are in place will likely be updated to require a booster, and then eventually another Booster shot.
Insanity. When is it all over? Well, it’s a problem because the nature of the vaccines and the relationship with the disease make it much more difficult to respond to politically. In other words, the case for booster vaccination isn’t whether or not you get sick. The argument to get the booster vaccination and another booster vaccination is about protecting people who are not vaccinated and protecting immunocompromised people, even if they have been vaccinated, and that is a tougher argument. It’s a harder argument for politicians to be successful. It is a more difficult argument to impose mandates on a population.
And if you look at the past few months, the Kaiser Family Foundation just published a study in the United States that shows we are still seeing 1,000 deaths from COVID on an average day. 163,000 people would not have to die of COVID if we had got full vaccination rates. In other words, the science was there, the vaccines were there, and just the effectiveness of those vaccines on populations that are not immunocompromised would have 163,000 people alive today that were not from COVID because we couldn’t band together Vaccines were introduced to get people to take them.
And that is the problem for the future. I will not die of COVID. If you’ve been vaccinated you won’t die from COVID, but many people will. And they will from this variant of Omicron, because we are not able to bring out boosters fast enough and second boosters fast enough, which is what a lot of people are fed up with, which a lot of people won’t feel comfortable with. We don’t have the regulatory capacity to make this happen, and that means the unvaccinated population will be incredibly vulnerable and exposed. And it also means that the economic impact of all of this will continue to increase, around the world. It’s not just the United States, it’s everywhere, and it’s especially the elderly and vulnerable populations.
That’s what we’re looking at. Merry Christmas to everyone. I’m sorry. I wish I had better news on this front. I still hope we get more information in the next week or two that allows us to say that Omicron is indeed a little milder than Delta, but right now we don’t have that information. The information we have is not so lucky. So that’s it and I hope everyone is fine and I’ll be talking to you all soon.