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What I tell my patients who feel disappointed with Omicron despite three vax injections

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What I tell my patients who feel disappointed with Omicron despite three vax injections

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A lot of people who’ve been vaccinated, boosted, and had COVID before are getting it back — and they’re furious. They no longer believe the doctors or the president. Many of my patients have come to see me (via televisit) feeling that I have let them down by pushing them to get vaccinated and then the booster to get sick with Omicron.

What can I tell them?

On the one hand, I can reassure them that their shots weren’t wasted: they were much less likely to get very sick with COVID after getting the shot, let alone with a recent booster.

I can and I also tell them that while I wish they hadn’t gotten Omicron, they are now protected not only from another Omicron fight, but also from the more dangerous Delta. I can tell them what the Biden administration is not: All immunity, no matter how you get it, counts.

Experts wondered if Omicron’s much milder symptoms were the result of a naturally milder virus, patients immune through infection or vaccination, or a combination of the three. Of course, there are variations from person to person, depending on the underlying disease and immune status, but most scientists agree: the more immunity of any kind to COVID, the better.

A South African study published on Friday has encouraging news: researchers have found that about a quarter of the reduced risk of hospitalization or death of Omicron, compared to Delta, is the result of the variant’s traits, the rest of risk being reduced primarily by immunity.

Experts wondered if Omicron’s much milder symptoms were the result of a naturally milder virus, patients immune through infection or vaccination, or a combination of the three.
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Not only that, but several studies have shown that the Omicron variant itself affects the upper respiratory tract much more than the lungs, although it is far more transmissible than any other variant. That’s exactly what happened in the later stages of the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic, according to John M. Barry, author of “The Great Influenza: The Epic Story of the Deadliest Plague in History,” which told me talked about it on SiriusXM’s Doctor Radio this week.

There’s no guarantee the same will happen now, but it would behoove our public health officials to make the comparison, as opposed to constant alarmism.

The obsession with testing and isolation is counterproductive not only because we lack readily available home testing, but also because the virus is now almost everywhere, and self-isolating if you’re not sick doesn’t does little to decrease the amount of virus circulating in the community.

One of the reasons President Joe Biden’s poll numbers are down is that most Americans recognize he over-promised on the vaccine. Vaccines have two main purposes: to prevent the spread and to reduce the severity. And while mRNA vaccines clearly decrease the severity of infection, especially with a recent boost, they clearly do little to prevent the spread. This makes the mandate argument even more unconvincing – why impose a vaccine that does not prevent the spread of the pathogen?

Dr. Kakoto Iwasaki, a world-renowned immunologist at Yale, told me she was working on a vaccine to completely prevent infection by blocking absorption in the nasal passages. Now, that might be a vaccine worth mandating for certain groups in the name of public safety, but that’s several months away at a minimum.

In the meantime, all we have is the cruel rhetoric against the unvaccinated and the consequences of excessive promises of a life-saving vaccine by pharmaceutical companies, media and politicians.

And the public no longer believes in any of them – or, for that matter, doctors like me, who have been on the front lines of saving lives but too often inhale the dogma of blame.

“May I never see in the patient anything but a fellow sufferer. Grant me the strength, the time and the opportunity to always correct what I have acquired, ”said the greatest physician-philosopher of all, Maimonides. We can echo that sentiment by telling our patients what we still don’t know, rather than whipping them with what little we do.

Marc Siegel MD is a Clinical Professor of Medicine and Medical Director of Doctor Radio at NYU Langone Health and a Fox News medical analyst.

What I tell my patients who feel disappointed with Omicron despite three vax injections

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