The More the Merrier
In this season of merry, what could be merrier than Covid-19 cases in the United States rocketing upward by the hundreds of thousands each day. Yes, I am being serious. The Omicron variant of corona virus is a gift to the world. It is the vaccine we have been waiting for. It will inoculate all of mankind against Covid’s current version, free of charge, without an appointment, and without a jab in the arm. No waiting in lines, no vaccine cards to fill out. The virus is ubiquitous. All you have to do is walk into a crowd and take a good deep breath, and presto – you have been immunized against Omicron.
You may think that I have consumed one too many eggnogs, but from what I can see in my practice, among the vaccinated and boostered, the omicron flavor of Covid is one big head cold. (If you are unvaccinated, see below) In the last two weeks we have tallied cases into the hundreds, and so far, all we have seen are sore throats, runny noses, coughs, and mild fevers. The symptoms generally disappear within 5 days. After that, you are not likely to be visited by omicron again.
Yesterday, the New York Times tallied over 300,000 new cases of Covid 19 in the United States. This number is likely to be a gross underestimate of true cases as many people cannot find an available test or are just giving up on getting tested. Daily home tests, which are not reported, may be in the tens of thousands per day. On the same day, deaths from Covid actually decreased by 3%. This is not a deadly disease among the vaccinated with a competent immune system.
For the unvaccinated, well you are all quite used to playing Russian Roulette. It’s clear that most current hospital admissions are amongst the unvaxed. It is less clear what percentage of the unvaxed are requiring hospital admissions. This is likely a milder form of disease in your campground as well.
We have fielded hundreds of telephone calls which begin with the line, “Hey Doc, I tested positive.” In case you have not made this call yet, this will be my likely response: 1) are you vaccinated and boostered? (Since 90% of my patients are) then, 2) Don’t worry. Take some Advil and you will be fine.
Should you get the monoclonal antibody infusion.? A qualified no. The Regeneron and Lily antibodies are ineffective against omicron. The Glaxo SmithKline product is effective, but you will have about as much luck finding it as the winning Powerball ticket. On top of that, you don’t need it because you are going to be okay in a few days. How about the new oral drugs by Pfizer and Merck? They have not hit the shelves yet and are also not necessary if you have been properly vaccinated.
If you develop an upper respiratory infection in the next two to three weeks, I am going to go out on a limb here and say consider not getting tested. You can assume its omicron. If you can work from home and have enough Cheetos and Mountain Dew in the cupboard to last for 5 days, stay home and lick your yellow fingers, and watch the ME channel which has reruns of both Mayberry RFD and Green Acres. After 5 days you can go out with a mask on, and you will not be very infectious.
The slope of the omicron case curve is a sight to behold. Fortunately, these curves are usually symmetric, so cases will come down almost as quickly as they went up. By the end of January things should look much better. We will either be on our way out of this thing for good, or another variant will come along and remind us how cruel nature can be. Those who have tried to predict this plague, myself included, have been wrong more times than we have been right. But one thing is clear: This will either get better, get worse, or stay about the same.
So let’s celebrate omicron as the Christmas miracle that it most certainly is. Immunizing the people of the world, rich and poor, young and old, heathen and righteous, (and probably even the unvaccinated) against the scourge of our time.
A Happy and Prosperous New Year to All!
Stephen Katz, MD, Adult Internal Medicine
Severna Park Medical Associates
Concierge Medicine for Annapolis
31 Robinson Road Severna Park, MD 21146
COVID symptoms – treating for comfort by Elaine
- If nasal congestion / sore throat, add Mucinex 1200mg twice a day along with nasal saline washes followed by Flonase nasal spray twice a day
- Advil or Tylenol if needed for fever and aches
- Cough: Use an OTC syrup (Delsym/Robitussin) and lozenges. We can call in prescription cough medicines: Benzonatate for daytime use and codeine syrup for night-time if needed
- Cough with shortness of breath: we can call in inhalers to help
- Wash your mask every couple of days even if it is in the sink and let dry overnight
- Quarantine is now 5 days home and 5 days masked indoors