OMICRON: The first step in any emergency is to take your own pulse

Posted by Dike Drummond MD

This timeless wisdom from The House of God was quoted to me by a resident on my first ER rotation

I think it applies to the news in all the headlines about the new OMICRON Variant of the COVID-19 virus.

It is 11/28/2021 as I write this. Omicron and the travel and nation-level shutdowns it immediately inspired, have dominated headlines across the world for the last 48 hours. We thought we had Delta in the rear view mirror and now this.

Hang on a second. What is that first step again?

Every one take a deep breath and apply index and long finger tips to your radial pulse. How are you doing?

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Just last week I was asking what inning you think this game of COVID-19 is in.
Now we have a new variant and everyone appears to be freaking out.

Caution is warranted for sure. And if we learn this version of the virus is no more dangerous than DELTA, will we adjust the public health reaction as quickly as it is being put into place?

What we know:

This is a new virus. It is new and different from genetic and antigenic perspectives. 

It appears to be everywhere.
Cases have been confirmed in South Africa, Botswana, the United Kingdom, Italy, Germany, Belgium, Israel, the Netherlands, Australia and Hong Kong. The cat is definitely out of the bag.

Government travel shutdowns are on hair trigger:
Nations and states are banning travel and instituting various levels of shutdown all over again. The space between first news headline and public health response now appears to be about 24 hours. 

What we don't know:

I  have only seen one article mentioning spread and severity of illness and it was not predicting catastrophe. The consensus is still "too early to tell". 

If OMICRON is anything like DELTA, it will be the major variant in a number of nations in just a few weeks. If the news is bad we will know quickly. 

My biggest question:

Will the public health mask mandates, shutdowns and travel bans be lifted as quickly if OMICRON does not pan out to be a more virulent variant than Delta?

If this version is not worse that Delta ... the economic impacts and political hyper-polarization effects of a delay in lifting the shutdown measures is perhaps worse than the disease impact itself

My fingers are crossed:

I hope with all my heart that Omicron is a piker, a flash in the pan, a great big nothing burger ... so we can all get back to the work of building a new and better post-COVID reality for physicians and healthcare. 

Let's connect again in a month and see what has become clear by that time point, yes?



What are your thoughts and feelings at this early stage of our wave five here??



Tags: stop physician burnout, Covid19