The highly infectious omicron variant of COVID-19 is in Michigan — and it won’t be long until it’s the dominant strain.
The omicron is present in 46 of 50 states in the U.S. and across the border in Canada. It’s more contagious than the delta strain, which has already caused a prolonged fourth wave of infections in Michigan.
Some scientists believe that omicron is so infectious practically everyone will eventually get it.
“We need to be aware of that, as usual, unless you are really well ahead of the curve, there is no way to vaccinate yourself out of this wave. This wave is a tidal wave, that’s just the reality.” –Dr. Peter Jüni, Ontario’s COVID-19 Science Advisory Table
Dr. Peter Jüni is of those scientists. The scientific director of Ontario’s COVID-19 Science Advisory Table says omicron will eventually infect everyone, but it will only be severe in people who have not been fully vaccinated.
“Within the next six to eight weeks, statistically speaking nearly all of us will just have experienced an infection,” Jüni says.
“We need to be aware of that, as usual, unless you are really well ahead of the curve, there is no way to vaccinate yourself out of this wave. This wave is a tidal wave, that’s just the reality.”
Jüni says the oncoming surge of infections will be devastating to hospitals.
For weeks, ICUs in Michigan have been full with unvaccinated COVID-19 patients — and the state’s already strained health infrastructure could be on the verge of collapse.
Jüni says the major concern from omicron is that it will infect unvaccinated people, who will then overwhelm ICUs and exhaust health care workers.
Ontario has already implemented some COVID-19 restrictions. Health officials in Michigan rolled back most mitigation efforts last spring, opting to lean on guidelines and vaccines for relief.
Jüni says getting fully vaccinated — which now means getting three shots – will still likely prevent severe infections and a trip to the ICU.
While the spread of omicron is likely to affect everyone, he says the variant could also be the beginning of the end for the pandemic, and that things “will change for the better.”
“Once we reach nearly 100% coverage in the population of some immunity, this is bound to slow [the virus] down – it will not continue the way we’ve seen it before,” he says.
Listen: Dr. Peter Jüni on how omicron will change the nature of the pandemic.