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COVID-19 ISO Insights

The Problem with Calling Covid-19 “Mild”

January 26, 2022

By Travis Decaminada

Key Takeaway: Although the symptoms associated with the omicron variant of Covid-19 are reportedly less severe than other variants, the virus is still extremely dangerous, and in many cases deadly. Experts are apparently concerned that referring to a strain of Covid-19 as “mild” may be downplaying the actual risks of infection. 

Referring to the omicron variant of the Covid-19 virus as “mild” may be partially responsible for numerous deaths, asserts the World Health Organization (WHO), as reported by the BBC.

Per the article, although the omicron variant reportedly causes less severe symptoms, it is far more infectious, meaning that healthcare systems around the world are coping with a massive influx of patients. For example, the BBC reported that the U.S. recently recorded more than one million cases of Covid-19 within 24 hours, and according to the WHO, global cases have increased by over 70% in the past week. Of note, the WHO also notes that around 90% of patients presenting with severe symptoms were not vaccinated. WHO chief, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, is quoted in the article saying:

While Omicron does appear to be less severe compared to Delta, especially in those vaccinated, it does not mean it should be categorised as mild, Dr Tedros told a press conference on Thursday. Just like previous variants, Omicron is hospitalising people, and it is killing people. In fact, the tsunami of cases is so huge and quick, that it is overwhelming health systems around the world."

A related article from The Atlantic further discusses the issue. Because hospitals are already operating at maximum capacity, not only are people infected with Covid more at risk, but so too are people suffering from other conditions like broken bones, appendicitis, or other similar conditions due to overwhelmed hospitals. Further complicating the matter is a reported shortage of healthcare workers, many of whom are also being infected with Covid-19.

The Atlantic is also quick to point out that although it may feel as though almost everyone will eventually be infected by the omicron variant, that there is no benefit to “getting it over with”. In fact, it is reported that the longer a person is able to go without being infected, the better the chances are that new treatments will be available for them when they do catch the virus. It’s also important to note that shortages of valuable medical supplies are also reportedly getting worse, and it may take some time for stores to be replenished.

An article from Time addresses the issue of people deliberately contracting Covid-19. Per the article, not only is this not medically advisable, but it may also increase the chances of Covid-19 spreading to other, potentially immunocompromised, individuals. The article from Time also addresses Long Covid, a little understood phenomenon but an excellent reason to avoid the virus. Experts in the article note that one can acquire a similar level of immunity by simply getting a booster shot.

Ultimately, Covid-19 may become an endemic disease, and thus this cycle of mass infection could repeat itself in coming years, making it vitally important to prepare for such a scenario.

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