Should I still travel? Answers to 8 questions as Omicron overshadows the holiday season

Should I still travel? Answers to 8 questions as Omicron overshadows the holiday season

A person in line for vaccination, surrounded by Christmas lights in Manchester, England, on December 14, 2021.

Although much is still poorly understood about Omicron, a flurry of new studies have shed some light.
Ahead of the holidays, experts and public health officials have provided some tips about best behavior. 
Here is are eight question you might be asking yourself and answers according to best available data. 

The fast-spreading Omicron variant is casting a huge shadow during the holiday season, traditionally a peak time for travel and social mixing.

Here are eight questions you might be asking yourself and the best answers we have based on the fast-changing data. 

Can I catch Omicron if I had two doses of vaccine? 


Early data suggests vaccinated people might be at higher risk of catching and passing on Omicron, compared with other variants (though double vaccination has never been a total defense from COVID-19).

However, you might be less likely to get COVID-19 so bad that it kills, although it is too soon to know for sure.

Early lab data and real-world data suggest that two doses of vaccines still substantially reduce the risk of severe disease and death.

A third, booster dose may also restore some protection against infection and transmission, according to early studies.

Women dance after the world’s largest Hanukkah Menorah is lit on the first night of Hannukah at Grand Army Plaza on November 28, 2021 in New York City.

If I catch Omicron, what symptoms will I get? 

According to the European Medicines Agency and CDC, Omicron cases have been mostly mild.

The most commonly reported symptoms are similar to the common cold: cough, fatigue, and a runny nose.

Nevertheless, the World Health Organization said Tuesday that it is too early to trust that Omicron is milder.

The good news is that antiviral pills seem to still reduce the risk of death after exposure, even with Omicron.

Two woman Christmas shopping in the city centre on December 15, 2021 in Glasgow, Scotland.

Is it safe to go to weddings, dine indoors, and plan vacations for 2022? 

There is no hard and fast rule here. Anthony Fauci, the White House Medical advisor, shared what he would do in the following settings in an interview published Wednesday. 

“I would want to make sure that the wedding had a rule that if you are not vaccinated, you don’t come to the wedding.””I certainly would not have diner indoors with people who are not vaccinated.”On planning vacations for 2022: “I would believe that that would be safe because a) I’m vaccinated, b) I’m boosted, c) It’s pretty safe traveling on a plane.”

How early should I get tested before an event or trip?

Early data suggests that people can become infectious very quickly after catching the virus, Insider’s Dr. Catherine Schuster-Bruce reported previously.

Experts have suggested taking a test hours, not days, before an event where there would be mixing, like a party or traveling, per Insider reporting.

Lateral flow or antibody tests still work with Omicron, according to the UK’s health agency.  However, if you’re showing symptoms of COVID-19, the CDC advises using a PCR test, which is more sensitive than a lateral flow.

How do I know if I caught Omicron?

Scientists might be able to figure out what variant you got, but you probably will never know.

It is actually pretty easy to tell from PCR tests if someone is carrying Omicron, but that bit of information is unlikely to appear in your test result. 

Another way to determine what variant is making someone sick is to do whole-genome sequencing.

But, at least in the US, it is illegal to share sequencing data with patients because the tests have not been approved for results, Insider’s Aria Bendix previously reported.

Customers shop for Christmas trees at a street market on December 14, 2021 in San Salvador, El Salvador.

Is it safe to go to my office holiday party?

It depends. There have been several reports of large parties turning into superspreader events.

The best practice is to keep wearing a mask indoors, try to keep your distance, wash your hands often, and get tested before mixing, the head of the CDC Rochelle Walensky said Tuesday

How can I reduce the risk to my loved ones over the holidays? 

The best way to prevent Omicron is to get fully vaccinated and boosted, Walensky said. “Get your kids vaccinated, if they are eligible,” she said. 

In the run-up to the holidays, Walensky said to take extra care over masking, social distancing, hand washing, “and making sure that the people you’re going to be gathering with are doing those things as well.”

“If you want that extra reassurance, always a good idea to test before you gather and mix households,” she said.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Science, News UK, Science, COVID-19, coronavirus, Omicron, Fauci, Walensky, CDC, WHO

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