With the holiday season here, we are all wondering how to handle COVID concerns with the coming year-end gatherings.
On latest edition of Hanging Out: Men's Health Radio with Drs. Lee Richstone and Seth Blacksburg, infectious disease expert Dr. Bruce Farber parses the latest news about the Omicron variant and his reasons for optimism about an end to the pandemic.
While Omicron appears to be the most contagious strain yet of the virus, Dr. Farber says there appears to be credence to the idea that Omicron causes less severe symptoms than earlier strains of the virus — though there's too little data to say that with certainty.
Dr. Farber listed a few things people can do to reduce the spread this holiday season.
- Get a vaccine/booster shot
- Take a home test if you can
- Make you gatherings smaller this year
- Wear a mask in public places
COVID vaccines are not nearly as effective against Omicron as they are against other strains of the virus. But Dr. Farber says it's clear that patients with boosters "don't get nearly as sick and are far less likely to wind up in the hospital and die."
While it may hurt to modify holiday traditions again due to the pandemic, it won't last forever. Dr. Farber points to advances in vaccines, oral drug therapies and a general level of immunity in the population that could render the virus far less dangerous in the future.
"Life is going to be fine. I'm not pessimistic that our lives are permanently going to be changed and that we can't enjoy all the things that we do," he said. "...This is not the time to get depressed, this is the time to rally up for another couple of months and look for a really great spring."