COVID Update: Many things reported as known about Omicron that are still questions or at best hunches. From my communications w scientists/officials today.

Here are key questions & my shot at current state answers. 1/
Is Omicron able to evade the current vaccine?

Unknown. The profile and amount of mutations leads to the assumption that it likely does at least in part. That is not the real world but first looks at early real world data seem to support that it does evade to some extent. 2/
What we will look for is reduction of prevention of severe disease and moderate. The early pieces of data show more decline in moderate or mild disease. Some but less in severe.

It appears certain that being vaccinated improves your odds even if there is some degradation. 3/
Are people with prior infections from COVID-19 immune to Omicron?

Seems unlikely but still not final. Population data from SA provinces with high prior Delta infection shows very little effect. This still needs confirmation. 4/
Does Omicron outcompete Delta?

Still unknown. The growth has been rapid in S Africa. More data on spread being shared this afternoon. But there were few Delta cases in S Africa. We need to study how fast Omicron grows in countries where Delta dominates. 5/
Part 2 of that answer is that if Omicron does not outcompete Delta, it will still be a problem if it is in an environment like S Africa w low levels of spread or if there is no cross-immunity to prior infection.

Suffice is to say much is unknown about how this will travel. 6/
Is Omicron more severe than Delta or less?

Unknown. There has been anecdotal observation of less severe symptoms but I would disregard this. It will take more cases and more time to know. We are only a few weeks from the first case & a lot of spread has been in schools. 7/
Part 2: Hope is not a strategy but if Omicron turns out to be less severe and outcompetes Delta, that would be a positive development. There is no data one way or another here. 8/
Is Omicron airborne?

Yes. This one seems solid. 9/
Do the monoclonal antibodies work against Omicron?

Not known yet but sophisticated lab analysis would indicate that they lose efficacy and would need to be adapted. 10/
Will our vaccines be able to quickly adapt to new variants like Omicron?

Almost certainly yes. Based on prior planning and work the mRNA vaccines, the cycle time to produce new variant-specific vaccines is under 100 days. 11/
Are there cases in the US?

As of now, none are confirmed but as testing picks up post holiday, it is highly likely cases will be discovered. 12/
What does this mean for holiday plans, travel or precautions?

Masking, portable ventilation, and gathering outdoors always makes sense with growing cases. Congregate settings & older people & people at higher risk are a real concern. 13/
If traveling until we know more it makes sense to assume your immunity is less than you thought it might be and be careful of areas with high or growing case counts and areas with low compliance. 14/
On more calls today. I will post things I learn that seem worth knowing but expect facts will evolve over the next few weeks. /end

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More from @ASlavitt

30 Nov
COVID Update: Given the events of the last few days, I got a rundown of what the US has been doing in Africa over the last few months. 1/
So far the US has sent 93 million vaccines to Africa, 13 million to Southern Africa, and 8 million to South Africa. More is available to S Africa when they need.

(The US has sent 275 million free doses outside the country total & are at a clip of 3 million/day.) 2/
US agencies providing support in Africa include PEPFAR, NIH, CDC, and USAID. 3/
Read 4 tweets
29 Nov
COVID Update: What should we consider doing differently with Omicron? 1/
1. Plan ahead.

Political leaders, business leaders & the rest of us should consider acting in some areas even before the facts are known for certain.

So what should be assumed about Omicron? 2/
2. Operate with informed but conservative assumptions until we know more.

Making assumptions is always hazardous. So what assumptions should we make until we learn more?
Read 17 tweets
27 Nov
COVID UPDATE: The latest on Omicron from a few brief conversations with scientists plus 24 hours of development.

A little of what’s known & what’s speculated. 1/
For a summary as of yesterday, here is my thread. Please note that while the first case was detected in Botswana— but unlike the thread says— it is still not clear where the first case originated. 2/
South Africa has become a hot spot but cases are popping up now in Belgium, the UK, and Hong Kong. It’s a safe bet that there are cases now throughout the world. 3/
Read 19 tweets
26 Nov
COVID Update: A new variant in southern Africa has emerged & is grabbing global concern.

What do we know about it? Should we be worried? 1/
In situations like this, it is useful to separate into what is known with good certainty, what is unknown, and what is being speculated.

Then I will address the “what if…” question. 2/

B.1.1.529 (it will be given a Greek alphabet name today) originated in South Africa and Botswana and cases have been recorded among travelers in Belgium, Hong Kong, and Israel. 3/
Read 22 tweets
14 Nov
COVID Update: The US Court of Appeals is preventing the Biden Admin from implementing common sense requirements that the workplace & workers be kept safe from COVID. 1/
Parroting the over-wrought language of a Trump fundraising letter, the 5th circuit, the most conservative appeals court in the country, refers to the requirement that people either get tested or vaccinated as a “sledgehammer” that will “decimate their workforces.”

Oh my. 2/
Trying to remember, have we seen workplaces “decimated” and “sledgehammered” by asking people to take a once/week test to see if they may have have COVID?

Or have we seen workplaces and people who work there decimated by something else…COVID-19 itself. 3/
Read 15 tweets
11 Nov
Here’s a lawsuit that has nothing to do with the law or health or common sense.

I used to run Medicare & the vaccine program so I have a point of view.

“States sue to block vaccine mandates for health care workers from Medicare.” 1/…
Medicare has the unquestioned right to determine which care providers are in the program very simply because Medicare pays the bills.

Just like the DoD can make the rules for which defense contractors they contract with. 2/
To do this, Medicare has conditions of participation for hospitals and nursing homes to provide care to beneficiaries.

If you can’t keep beneficiaries safe or provide quality care then Medicare won’t want beneficiaries risking their lives. 3/
Read 8 tweets

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