[COLUMN] Omicron: A ‘blessing’?

IF there is such a thing as “the best time to get COVID-19 infection,” it could be now with the Omicron variant, which appears (so far) to be milder although super contagious, especially for the unvaccinated. If those who have refused the vaccines are hoping to get natural immunity instead, Omicron could be their saving grace as it is less damaging to the lungs, compared to the original strains and the Delta variant. For those unvaccinated who have health issues, Omicron infection can still be more dangerous, riskier than getting the vaccines.

When those with the booster get infected, they would have 2-tiered immunity: protection provided by the vaccines, and another from natural immunity. The latter is less stable and shorter-lasting and not as reliable as immunity conferred by the vaccines.

If at least 80 percent of those (60 million) who refuse vaccination get infected now, they would develop some natural immunity, which might help the country inch toward herd immunity in a few months. It would be much faster if they got vaccinated instead.

Omicron (thank God) is now the predominant strain, representing 95 percent of all COVID-19 cases, with infections one million on Monday, January 3 alone, although with fewer hospitalizations and deaths compared to Delta.

The first death from Omicron was reported Monday in Harris County, Texas – a 50-year-old male, who was unvaccinated and got the infection. For the unvaccinated, the complications are much worse, especially among those with health issues. Had this man been vaccinated, he could have survived the infection.

The risks and complications among those protected by the booster when infected with Omicron are markedly milder. A trenchant, ironic blessing, perhaps.

News roundup

In the Philippines, there have been 2,861,119 COVID-19 cases, with 51,604 deaths as of January 4, 2022. More than 100 million vaccines have been administered to a total population of 111,763,229. To get the Pfizer vaccines, people have to pay $100 per shot, while all the shots, including the booster, are free in the United States.

* * *

According to a study from one South African hospital published on Tuesday, January 4, patient deaths from Omicron averaged 4.5%, compared to 21.3% from previous waves. About 45% of patients with Omicron required supplemental oxygen, while 99% of patients from previous COVID-19 waves needed breathing assistance. The average length of stay for Omicron patients was 4 days — less than half the average for other strains.

* * *

Researchers from the University of Cape Town reported that saliva samples yielded more accurate results in PCR analyses when Omicron was involved compared with nasal swabs. When patients carried the Delta variant, on the other hand, nasal swabs were more accurate.

* * *

HHS announced that Roche and Siemens have two new rapid antigen tests for COVID-19 on the market. If COVID-19 infection is suspected, the best is to get tested.

* * *

As of Tuesday, January 4, there were 293,264,764 cases and 5,468,191 deaths worldwide, and 57,131,187 cases with 848,885 deaths in the U.S. Last week, there were almost half a million cases, mostly Omicron, in one day.

* * *

With another day of record-breaking infections in France, Paris is implementing mandatory masking, according to the Associated Press. India is bracing for its third coronavirus wave, as many people have stopped wearing masks and are back to large gatherings, according to CNN.

* * *

With Omicron, the greatest concentration of the viral load is found in the mouth and throat. Gargling 3 times a day with a mouthwash that contains stabilized chlorine dioxide (like TheraBreath, OraCare, CloSys, and DioxRinse) might help reduce this load and minimize symptoms even.

* * *

There are two new (home) pills for COVID-19. One is from Pfizer (Paxlovid), for ages 12 and older, that can reduce the risk of hospitalization and death by 90 percent (the other, molnupiravir, is from Merck) if taken in the early stage of the infection, and for those family members exposed to the patient. Merck’s pills reduce the risk by only 30-50 percent.

* * *

New randomized trial: Fluvoxamine (100 mg, 3 times a day) given to non-hospitalized patients within 7 days after COVID-19 infection was shown to reduce clinical deterioration (shortness of breath and oxygen use) at 15 days, according to the Wall Street Journal.

* * *

Studies are being conducted to find out if the preliminary finding that sildenafil citrate (Viagra) is beneficial to Alzheimer’s patients is universally valid. Viagra, besides being very effective for erectile dysfunction in men, has been a therapy for pulmonary hypertension, even among infants.

* * *

The FDA expanded the emergency use authorization (EUA) of the monoclonal antibody cocktail bamlanivimab-etesevimab to include even younger pediatric patients, as well as newborns at high risk of progression to severe COVID. The FDA also says booster 5 months after the second shots may now be given to 12 and older.

* * *

Patients on low-salt diet and replacing salt with potassium chloride (salt substitute) show these two regimens to be synergistic in reducing blood pressure more effectively, compared to those only on low-salt diet. The potassium chloride salt substitute appears to be beneficial. The combined regimen reduces the risk for stroke, cardiovascular events, and deaths, as shown by a new landmark (5-year) study on 21,000 people in rural China.

* * *

Studies have shown that the risk of death from people’s reaction to the vaccines is 0.0018 percent (a tiny fraction of 1 percent), compared to the 20-30 percent risk of death from COVID-19. Majority of those deaths, according to an intensive review, were not caused by the vaccines themselves but the predisposition of the people to blood clots and others with health issues.

* * *

In nearly every instance, COVID vaccine mandates are holding up in court, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Indeed, national safety and welfare should take precedence and prevail over individual rights and freedom, the misuse and abuse of which, like the freedom to refuse the COVID-19 vaccines, has led to massive viral spread by the unvaccinated, more than three-fourths of a million preventable deaths and economic disaster in the United States.

May 2022 be the beginning of a brighter future for all nations and all peoples of the world!

* * *

The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of the Asian Journal, its management, editorial board and staff.

* * *

The main objective of this column is to educate and inspire people live a healthier lifestyle to prevent illnesses and disabilities and achieve a happier and more productive life. Any diagnosis, recommendation or treatment in our article are general medical information and not intended to be applicable or appropriate for anyone. This column is not a substitute for your physician, who knows your condition well and who is your best ally when it comes to your health.

* * *

Philip S. Chua, MD, FACS, FPCS, a Cardiac Surgeon Emeritus based in Northwest Indiana and Las Vegas, Nevada, is an international medical lecturer/author, a Health Public Advocate, and Chairman of the Filipino United Network-USA, a 501(c)3 humanitarian and anti-graft foundation in the United States. Visit our websites: philipSchua.com and FUN8888.com    Email: scalpelpen@gmail.com

 

Dr. Philip S. Chua

Philip S. Chua, MD, FACS, FPCS, Cardiac Surgeon Emeritus in Northwest Indiana and chairman of cardiac surgery from 1997 to 2010 at Cebu Doctors University Hospital, where he holds the title of Physician Emeritus in Surgery, is based in Las Vegas, Nevada. He is a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons, the Philippine College of Surgeons, and the Denton A. Cooley Cardiovascular Surgical Society. He is the chairman of the Filipino United Network – USA, a 501(c)(3) humanitarian foundation in the United States.

The Filipino-American Community Newspaper. Your News. Your Community. Your Journal. Since 1991.

Copyright © 1991-2022 Asian Journal Media Group. All Rights Reserved.

PRINT EDITION ONLINE