Unvaccinated people ‘roll the dice’ with omicron, Arizona health expert says

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PHOENIX – Although the omicron variant of COVID-19 tends to cause less severe illness than previous versions, “you’re still rolling the dice” and “playing with your life” if you stay unvaccinated, an expert on Thursday said. Arizona Health.

“One-on-one versus delta, omicron is less likely to send a person to the hospital,” said Dr. Will Humble, executive director of the Arizona Public Health Association and former director of the Department of Services. Arizona Health Center. KTAR News 92.3 FM’s The Mike Broomhead Show.

“But, remember, you know it’s a numbers game and you’re always rolling the dice. Even though the odds of winning in craps are better with omicron than with delta, you are still gambling with your life.

Humble said that while he expects COVID-related hospitalizations to increase next month because omicron is so contagious, it won’t be as much as cases are likely to skyrocket.

“It’s all about the denominator,” he said. “Lots of new cases are coming in, and even if a smaller percentage of them end up needing hospitalization, it’s still going to send more people to hospital, at least in January and the first part of February. “

In fact, Humble said “we’re lucky” that COVID mutated to a less severe variant when it did.

“If omicron were as bad as Delta with the increase in cases we’re going to have in January, it would have been a real train wreck in hospitals.”

There is not yet complete data on the risk omicron poses to unvaccinated people compared to those who are fully vaccinated and boosted. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported data for October, when delta was the predominant variant, which showed unvaccinated people were 10 times more likely to be infected and 20 times more likely to die than people. whose immunization level included a booster dose.

The Arizona Department of Health reported more than 5,600 new cases on Thursday, among the highest one-day additions in the past 11 months. Humble said we could soon see days with double that amount, although this would still underreport the actual number of infections due to home testing.

“I think… there will probably be a few days in January when over 10,000 cases are reported,” he said.

“But remember, there are a whole bunch of cases that never get reported these days because people have the BinaxNow or the other rapid tests in their bathroom closet and they use it, but this is not reported. “

For details on vaccine availability statewide, the ADHS website has a vaccine search page with locations and other information.

For more information on vaccine availability in the Phoenix metro area, Maricopa County Public Health has a location page that lists pharmacies, government-run sites, health clinics, and contextual distribution events. Appointments may be necessary depending on the provider.

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