UF Researchers say Omicron cases will peak sooner than expected
According to a new report released by the University of Florida, the Covid-19 Omicron variant will peak sooner than expected.
Back in December, UF predicted the omicron wave would reach its peak in February, but with the recent surge of cases they’re now predicting the variant will peak within the next two weeks in the state.
Researcher Thomas Hladish said omicron continues to spread faster than other COVID variants. Even though there’s still a lot unknown about immunity when it comes to COVID, Hladish said, "We’re pretty sure that normal, healthy people are not going to be getting reinfected in a matter of weeks. And so basically, in a sense, the virus is burning through all of its fuel very very quickly. And that’s one of the reasons we know the peak has to happen soon. You just can’t sustain this kind of growth long term."
However, Hladish said the rapid spread of the omicron variant can have a serious effect on our healthcare system as many workers call out sick. "Because when things happen this quickly, there’s no time to react. And when you have a large number of healthcare workers that are also infected, they can’t work. They can’t show up at the hospital," he said. "And what that means is that you have clinics and wards totally unrelated to COVID, but can’t operate because they don’t have the staff to function. "
Hladish believes more people will be infected with Omicron than any other variant during the entire pandemic.
Also, He said parents with kids under the age of 5 should be extra cautious this month as there have been higher hospitalization rates among that age group compared to other variants. "We are seeing higher hospitalization rates in kids under 5 than from other variants. And of course kids under 5 aren’t eligible for vaccinations," Hladish said.
Hladish adds that when you couple that with the staffing issues many hospitals are experiencing, it's a dangerous time for families with young kids.