Boosters Prove Their Effectiveness Against Omicron
Boosted individuals have three-time more protection.
Leading Covid indicators in Homer were mixed after holding largely steady in the previous two weeks. South Peninsula Hospital’s Derotha Ferraro said there was lower demand for tests and only 840 were administered. One-hundred-nine were positive, for a 13 percent positivity rate, down from the prior week’s 19 percent.
“For the week ending February 1, we had 12 ER visits related to covid and that's the same number as the week prior to that. We had four new hospital admissions with covid, and that is higher compared to the prior week which was two. But pretty much at any given day over the last week, we had only one or two hospitalized patients with covid,” Ferraro said.
The State of Alaska’s Division of Epidemiology released figures on booster effectiveness against the Omicron variant, and found that it increases protection against infection, hospitalization and death three times better than just the vaccines alone. Alaska Public Health Nurse Lorne Carroll said the booster is key to staying healthy.
“Omicron has, you know, over 50 different mutations, and 30 of them have to do with that spike protein, or these little pieces that stick out from each virus at the SARS-CoV-2 particle itself and the vaccines, in part, work with that spike in order to prevent infection, serious disease and and death. So one of the major concerns that we had and kept a close eye on was, are these vaccines going to work with Omicron. And the interesting, unique thing that we found with this, is the answer is yes, they continue to do a good job of preventing severe illness and death. However, the booster is incredibly important,” Carrol said.
Carroll said the Omicron variant is so easily transmitted that at least half the population will contract it. The study from the state showed that a previously infected patient who then got the booster, has even better immunity.
“And there's a lot of people out there that have had covid or have covid right now. Probably 50 to 60 percent of the population will get Omicron, or more. You know, that's just a model or a best guess, and I guess I'm highlighting that because, you know, it really doesn't care who you are. It's infecting a lot of people and so, would like to just push the, any kind of stigma away. I mean if you are sick, call out, reach out to your doctor and explore treatment options and hope you feel better soon,” Carrol said.
A listener question submitted to Covid Brief asked about the requirements for fans in the stands of school sporting events this winter, saying they were surprised at the low rate of mask use. The School District’s Pegge Erkeneff responded.
“So it's optional and highly encouraged. Most of the time, you know, that's, that's how most schools are operating, also to add that we do have building use agreements with other outside groups that use our schools for their events and their mitigation plans are chosen by them. So the school district isn't putting a mitigation plan on top of what an outside group using our school facilities would be. And again it, I think you know I, we all know that there's people that want to choose to wear a face covering and people that don't, so that's where we are in our communities and I know some people would feel safer if more people wore face coverings and other people don't want to so we've been navigating that tension for a couple years now,” Erkeneff said.
Another question regarded home tests sent in the mail and their expiration dates. Carroll said each box will have an expiration date, and that at this point, tests from CovidTests.gov shouldn’t expire for one or two years.