Does the Omicron variant mean you shouldn’t go to a Christmas party?

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Omicrons can spread much more easily in social function than other variants

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Should I go to the celebration party this year if I want to avoid getting infected with the coronavirus? Probably not. In addition to the risks posed by high levels of delta variants in many countries Omicron variant It is still widespread and seems to have the potential to infect a surprisingly high percentage of people at social events.

There are already at least four reports of superspreading events at parties across Europe where more than one-third of the participants have been infected. Omicron has not yet been identified in all cases, but may be responsible.

“A very high percentage of people infected at these events, combined with a very rapid increase in cases in South Africa, indicates a variant that is probably quite infectious,” epidemiologist Gunhild Alvik Nyborg said. Says. Covid action groupAn international think tank on the elimination of covids.

One of the events Party at a restaurant in Oslo,Norway. About 70 of the 120 people who attended the party were infected, and another 50 were infected at the restaurant. Omicron has been confirmed by sequencing 13 cases so far.

In Denmark, 53 out of 150 people who went to Viborg for Christmas lunch Confirmed to be infected with Omicron..

In Spain 68 doctors at the university community hospital In Malaga, we tested positive after going to a Christmas party with 173 people. It is not yet clear if any of the 68 have Omicron.

Avoid immunity

In England Tim Spector Say in King’s College London He was told According to the PCR test, 14 out of 18 people were infected with Omicron at the 60th birthday party. All guests have been vaccinated and are said to have been negative in the later flow test 24 hours ago.

“It definitely shows a very high secondary attack rate,” he says. Tom Vencelia’s At the Ruben Catholic University (KUL) in Belgium.

Delta is more infectious than the original virus found in Wuhan, but its spread is limited by the fact that most people are immune from either previous infections or vaccinations. Omicrons are more infectious than Delta and appear to be much better at evading previous immunity, Wenserias says.

I’ve seen superspreading events in other variants.For example, at least in May 2020 Half of 61 people Those who participated in chorus practice in Skagit County, Washington were infected.

However, the high number of events of this type shortly after Omicron’s arrival in Europe suggests a high risk. “This seems to be in another league,” says Nyborg.

She speculates that people may be infected with a small amount of Omicron, increasing the likelihood of airborne spread. “Viral particles remaining in the air can pose a greater threat than previous variants,” says Nyborg.

Specter says that as Omicron spreads, people should avoid this kind of event. However, the risk of getting Omicron also depends on the probability that someone with Omicron will attend the party. This is currently low in most countries.

“I hope the risk is still low this week,” says Specter. If people wear masks and are well ventilated, the risk can be lower in theaters and concerts, Nyborg said.

Fear of lack of oxygen

However, delta variant infections are now at high levels in many countries, including the United Kingdom, with 469 out of 100,000 people testing positive for PCR in the last 7 days.

There remains a great deal of unknown as to whether Omicron is more likely or less likely to cause more severe illness than Delta. So far, it is said that everyone infected with the party has a mild case, but it is premature to be convinced that this will continue to be true.

People who become severely ill with covid-19 usually develop symptoms about a week after their first onset. In addition, most infected were young and therefore at low risk.

However, attending a party is not just a risk to you as an individual. If infected and infects others, even if Omicron is less severe than Delta, it can contribute to a large outbreak in cases that can overwhelm the hospital.

“A very large proportion of the world’s population is at risk of being infected at the same time, leading to oxygen deficiency,” says Nyborg.

“I want such an event to be allowed more than anyone else,” she says. “But from a scientific point of view, this is a really high risk.”

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Does the Omicron variant mean you shouldn’t go to a Christmas party?

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