Over the last two years, I’ve been COVID free. But these days, it feels like the clock is ticking.
I don’t know about you, but it seems like more and more people in my circle have been infected with COVID thanks to the surge of the omicron variant. Cases of the virus are up some 230% over the last 14 days, and it’s possible those figures could go ever higher.
The good news: this variant doesn’t seem to hit people quite as hard — especially those who are vaccinated. I’ve had three shots now, so I’m not too worried about myself. But, of course, I’d rather not try my luck, and I certainly don’t want to get my family sick.
One of the recurring conversations I’ve had lately centers on whether we’re all bound to get it at some point. I regularly work in an office, visit the grocery store, go out to dinner, etc. I do my best to take precautions, but I also try to live a normal life. So am I doomed at some point? The experts say not necessarily.
Dr. Bernard Camins, medical director for infection prevention at the Mount Sinai Health System, told TODAY we’re all likely to be exposed to the virus at some point.
“I’ve been telling this to anyone who would listen: It’s not a matter of if you get exposed to the omicron variant or any other variant of the coronavirus, it’s a matter of when. It may not be this week or even in the next year, but eventually, everyone will run into somebody with a COVID infection,” Camins said.
He and other health experts say an exposure doesn’t have to lead to an illness. Individual behaviors combined with local health policies will determine whether or not we get sick — even as cases seemingly spread at lightning speed.
As we’ve learned, getting vaccinated reduces your chances of getting COVID but certainly isn’t a full-proof plan. There have been millions of breakthrough cases over the last few weeks. Doctors definitively say being vaccinated leads to a less severe illness and much better outcomes.
“It’s looking very much like people who get a booster have protection against getting it,” Dr. Otto Yang, professor of medicine in the division of infectious diseases and of microbiology, immunology and molecular genetics at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, told TODAY.
There’s now some talk in the U.S. of a potential fourth booster shot.
With the case count jumping at such an alarming rate, some people are questioning whether they should just catch COVID to get it out of the way and move on. Akiko Iwasaki, an immunobiologist at the Yale University School of Medicine who studies viral immunity, told TIME that’s not the way to go noting there’s no way to know how serious a case could be and getting infected has the ability to set off a domino effect among others.
“The risk-to-benefit calculation here is very clear to me. The risk is so much higher than whatever benefit you might reap,” said Iwasaki.
My plan is to stay COVID free. I try to avoid super-busy indoor settings and wear a mask when I’m around groups of others. Hand sanitizer has become part of my regular routine.
So far, so good. I suppose time will tell…