This Coronavirus Omicron variant Mini-Guide is designed to help you and your loved ones sort through the overwhelming and often conflicting information about Omicron, the latest COVID-19 variant. As the adage goes, “knowledge is power,” it is often difficult to “know” what is fact regarding all things Coronavirus and what is fiction, spun to evoke feelings of panic despair. So, in honor of the rapidly approaching New Year, and the holidays which are already upon us, our Coronavirus Recovery Plan Team is providing you this resource to save you the hours of exhausting reading and nail-biting worry about what Omicron is and is not. As a full disclosure, the Corona Omicron variant is new and evolving; therefore, we are providing you with up-to-date information that we have carefully researched, despite a number of “unknowns”.
We hope that this Coronavirus Omicron Mini-Guide will serve you as you decide whether or not to travel for the holidays or spend time at home with family, friends, and colleagues. Whatever you decide, the Coronavirus Recovery Plan Team wishes you and yours a very Happy Holiday Season!
CORONAVIRUS OMICRON VARIANT TIMELINE
As if the current raging Delta variant was not enough, a new Omicron variant of the Coronavirus was first discovered in Botswana in Southern Africa on November 11, 2021. South Africa’s superior laboratory testing allowed this latest variant to be detected there, but does not necessarily mean that it originated there. Notwithstanding, both the European Union and the United States declared travel bans from some Southern African countries almost immediately thereafter. This new variant was officially reported to the WHO (World Health Organization) on November 24, 2021, as a new variant of SARS-CoV-2, B.1.1.529 and given its current name of Omicron two days later on November 26, 2021. It has been classified as a VOC (Variant of Concern), which according to the Centers for Disease Control means that, “A variant for which there is evidence of an increase in transmissibility, more severe disease (for example, increased hospitalizations or deaths), significant reduction in neutralization by antibodies generated during previous infection or vaccination, reduced effectiveness of treatments or vaccines, or diagnostic detection failures”.
Less than three weeks after its South African debut, the Coronavirus Omicron variant arrived in the United States with its first documented case in California on December 1, 2021. A mere two more weeks later, and we are looking at: an exponential spread across South Africa: the possibility of it becoming the dominant variant in Britain and other parts of Europe; and its presence in 63 countries and counting.
CHARACTERISTICS OF THE CORONAVIRUS OMICRON VARIANT
Since the first case of the Coronavirus variant, Omicron, was discovered in South Africa it has been spreading much more rapidly than its predecessor, Delta. In fact, the transmissibility rate is even higher than when the COVID-19 pandemic first began, and double that of just over a year ago, at two to one (2:1).
On Sunday, December 12, 2021 there were almost 17,000 new Omicron variant cases reported in the Gauteng province of South Africa. As the current Coronavirus and Delta variant continue to gain new ground, their new Omicron variant ally adds gas to the already raging fire. Of the many troubling issues, is the fact that the Coronavirus Omicron variant is significantly more contagious. In the spirit of making lemonade out of proverbial lemons, however, many physicians are less worried about severe illness leading to death and more concerned about its transmissibility and reinfections. For example, Coronavirus patients in South Africa have seen a reduced need for intensive critical care or to be placed on a ventilator. Additionally, they same sample of patients are being discharged more quickly, on average.
This is by no means to say that we should throw caution to the wind and not give due respect to the virulence and seriousness of the Coronavirus Omicron variant. In fact, the World Health Organization (WHO) will neither confirm nor deny whether or not the Omicron variant is, indeed, more or less deadly than Delta; stating, “It remains unclear to what extent Omicron may be inherently less virulent”. As hopeful as the WHO might wish to remain for the sake of not stoking public fear and panic, there are currently too many unknowns looming about.
Au contraire, we are on the edge of a perfect storm because many healthcare systems—hospitals, medical staff, and first responders—around the world are already strained. Add to that the fact that we are in the midst of the winter months—influenza season in many parts of the world—in what may be colder than usual. Next sprinkle in people traveling in droves for the Christmas, Hanukkah, and New Year and other upcoming holidays and we have the recipe for potential disaster…similar to the spike we saw in cases and deaths during Thanksgiving of 2020 or the huge spike we saw when Delta first reared its ugly head. If Omicron joins Delta in ramping up overwhelming our collective fragile and stretched health systems, it may result in a further uptick of hospitalizations—regardless of the length of stay. Be on the lookout for added complications within nursing homes and the senior community. Let’s hope that some valuable lessons were learned from the previous mishaps that occurred within these elder-care facilities this time around.
Vaccinated people have not gone unscathed, as breakthrough infections are have been occurring with more frequency among them. So while many have placed blame on the unvaccinated as the perpetrators of the lingering Coronavirus pandemic, the rapid “spread of Omicron has made it clear that COVID is everyone’s problem,” says the Atlantic’s Rachel Gutman in “The Pandemic of the Vaccinated Is Here“.
The Omicron variant of COVID-19 is already on the fast-track to adding its numbers to the 270 million confirmed worldwide Coronavirus worldwide and 5.31 million related deaths. The United States sits at the top of the list in both total Coronavirus cases and deaths—followed by India and Brazil for cases, then Brazil and India for deaths.
The new Omicron variant of the Coronavirus may soon be dominant among positive COVID-19 cases in the United Kingdom and other countries. The 7-day rolling average has markedly increased, and does not show signs of stopping any time soon.
It is not only the Coronavirus Omicron variant’s rapid rate of transmission that is concerning, however, but also the possibility that it might be the variant that finally goes off the rails and is resistant to vaccines and other attempts to somewhat “control” it. If this were to be the case—in combination with its 2:1 rate of transmission, then we could be facing an exponentially deteriorating situation.
The United Kingdom is already dreading that the Coronavirus Omicron variant will become dominant amongst those infected with COVID-19.
HELPFUL TIPS FOR A SAFE AND HAPPY HOLIDAY DURING OMICRON
Stay Ahead of the Coronavirus Omicron Variant
Inevitably many people will opt to travel to meet family and friends for the holidays, or simply to take a much needed getaway after being deprived for so long. Whether you are into a vacation or a stay-vacation there are still basic precautions you can take to protect yourself and your family against this latest Coronavirus Omicron variant, as well as the concurrent Delta variant and original COVID-19 virus. We are all too familiar with the use of masks as a recommendation; however, not all masks are created equally. As N-95 Masks were largely limited to First Responders and Medical Staff from early on in the pandemic, many people purchased non-medical-grade KN-95 Mask instead. Others made their own masks from a myriad of materials from old T-shirts to colorful cloth made into “designer” fashion statements. The issue with many of those makeshift masks, however, is that while they may have plenty of visual flair they may lack the level of protection necessary to actually be effective in contributing to the prevention of the spread of the Coronavirus and its variants. The KN-95 has experienced its own list of complaints and controversies, including many “counterfeit” masks produced shoddily in China—some of which their manufactures tried to pass off as the higher rated N-95 masks. Fortunately, there are some reputable companies who are selling quality masks in the marketplace, and one of the best happens to be an Israeli company that specializes in fabrics that are 99.97% effective against the SARS CoV2 Virus. Their cutting edge technology was originally “developed in 2013, following a successful 4-year EU-funded study to fight hospital-acquired infections”.
Pay added attention to boosting your immune system.
The importance of being as healthy as you can be before anything can even have the chance to attack your immune system cannot be over emphasized. Even those with an already compromised immune system can engage in very practical behaviors to improve their current health and put them in a better position to deal confront the Coronavirus or whatever other unwanted viral or bacterial “guest”.
Sleep, sleep, and sleep some more.
Let’s start with an obvious way to boost our immune systems and improve our overall health, getting a sufficient amount of sleep. It can be all too easy too easy to use holiday preparations and hosting as an excuse to overdo things and commit to more than we can reasonably handle. Being uber productive and burning the candle at both ends is overrated, at the expense of getting high-quality sound sleep. Without the right amount and kind of sleep our bodies are doomed from the start because they don’t have enough down-time to repair themselves. Think of it like an automobile with a limited sized gas tank. Obviously, you cannot just drive cross country all day and night without ever making a pitstop to refuel…no matter how much you ‘wish’ to keep going in the name of “making good time”. Eventually you will end up on the side of the road; out of gas; and wasting more time awaiting rescue than if you had merely taken the time in the first place to do the right thing and fill your tank. As simple as “get a good night’s sleep” sounds, it is often easier said than done when you are stressed out about anything from the current Coronavirus Omicron variant and the COVID pandemic in general; to rising inflation and consumer prices; to supply chain disruptions and bottlenecks wreaking havoc on our ability to obtain food and supplies in a timely fashion. We understand, sympathize, and empathize. Nonetheless, it is not only doable, but easier than you might think. Start small by making your sleep area as conducive to peaceful slumber as possible. That may include removing distractions like your digital devices and blue screens—laptop, desktop, tablet, mobile phone, etc.—or that pesky bedside alarm clock whose neon numbers remind you that you are, Yes, STILL awake at 2:00am, and 3:00am, and 4:00am, and so on. You can begin with something as subtle as starting to dim the lights—if you have that option—beginning a few hours before the time you would like to good to sleep, to get your internal clock moving in the direction of a wind-down. If you do not have dimmer switches on your lights, you can always opt for simply turning off the main overhead lights, and substituting them with lamp lighting. Picture making a date with Mr. or Mrs. Sleep and setting a romantic candlelight-like mood—only in this case, to woo yourself to deep, restorative sleep. So if you really want to have a safe and happy holiday, start by getting enough sleep to make it pleasurable for yourself and others.
Eating as nutrition food as your budget will allow.
It is a sad reality that healthy, nutrient dense food is not readily available to many people worldwide. Within the United States allow there are vast food deserts and a large amount of food inequity, and outright poverty as many families have an inadequate quantity and quality of food to eat.
For those of us with family and/or friends gathered around, this is the perfect time to swap healthy recipes; enjoy joint cooking activities (for camaraderie); and prepare foods the old-fashioned way with time, love, and care. Choosing to eat whole foods instead of heavily processed foods, can go a long way to keeping you and your loved ones healthy during this holiday and beyond. Remember the Coronavirus Omicron variant is just getting started, and sadly the existing COVID-19 does not seem to be letting up anytime soon, as our different countries keep exchanging periods in the hot-seat. Therefore, obviously, the healthier you are as a base measure, the better off you will be in the long run regardless of how this pandemic pans out. Besides eating a well balanced mix of vegetables, fruits, lean proteins, and brain-power boosting fats, try adding a myriad of herbs and spices to your regular diet. Two powerful immune boosting foods that fit into that category are garlic and ginger. Although both are botanically considered vegetables, they are most often used in a seasoning capacity as opposed to consumed on their own as a ‘main course’ or full side dish.
Garlic is a bulbous flowering plant with close kinship to onions, leeks, chives, and shallots. It has been widely praised for its potent antibacterial, antimicrobial, and antibiotic properties. Also, garlic has been widely shown to aid in respiratory ailments, as well as the additional benefit of helping to lower blood pressure in those with elevated or otherwise unhealthy levels. It is high in allicin, which is partly what contributes to the increased blood flow that lowers its pressure. Garlic gets put into the “herb” classification most of the time, and does its due diligence in strongly seasoning foods with its pungent flavor.
Ginger, also a flowering plant, is actually a rhizome—meaning that it is a root stalk or subterranean plant stem. This healthy and delicious “spice” is often popularly used in Asian cuisine, but once you become accustomed to using it you will find it melds with a myriad of foods to give them an interesting flavor profile. As with garlic, ginger can be used as a natural remedy to help treat high blood pressure because it helps to promote healthy circulation, while relaxing the blood vessels. Ginger has been known to have a calming effect on the nervous system, and is an age old remedy for nausea. So if you are feeling stressed out and overwhelmed by holiday guests, perhaps reach for a cup of ginger tea or nosh on a homemade gingerbread house or ginger snap cookies to help you zen out. Can you say Wooo Saaa?
Supplement to get your micro-nutrients and other immune boosting support.
Vitamin B. There are a set of eight kinds of B vitamins, which are very potent immune boosters and consist of:
Vitamin C. Perhaps the grandfather of vitamins, Vitamin C is universally well known for its cold and flu fighting properties, and is often included as a base for boosting other micro-nutrients and their absorption. Supplementing with Vitamin C has been shown to be effective in reducing the duration of the common cold and ameliorating flu-like symptoms, especially when taken at the onset of feeling symptom.
Vitamin D. If Vitamin C is the grandfather than let’s call Vitamin D the grandmother—after all Mother Nature is female, and Vitamin D is the “sun vitamin”. So many people find themselves deficient of Vitamin D, which can markedly increase their chances of becoming not just sick but also depressed. SAD (Seasonal Affect Disorder) is, in fact, partially attributed to decreased levels of Vitamin D as it relates to a lack of direct sunlight exposure.
Echinacea. Echinacea may be a lesser known way to keep colds and the flu at bay and boost your immune system, but it has its own proven track record. Echinacea can be easily enjoyed in a tasty hot cup of tea—with or without a bit of raw honey—which makes for a soothing and relaxing addition to your self-care arsenal.
Zinc. Often combining these micro-nutrients can be an effective way to obtain compounded benefits, and bringing zinc into the fold is a great idea. There is a reason that zinc lozenges are so popular, and that is because since has been shown to reduce the duration and intensity of the common cold by more than 30%, according to a meta-analysis conducted by the National Center for Biotechnology Information’s National Library of Medicine.
Exercise has a love-hate reputation. Many people absolutely love to exercise, while others abhor even the thought of it. Still others exercise begrudgingly because they know that it is good for their health, but don’t really glean any real pleasure from it. One of the keys to embracing this immune boosting activity is to find things to do that don’t necessarily make you think about exercise in the traditional format. In the spirit of the holidays this could include everything from decorating the house (inside and out); playing fun party games with family, friends, and guests; or maybe dancing (together or alone). The important key is to get moving, get your heart rate up; your limbs limber; and your body used to being in motion. Having a strong and healthy body contributes to a healthy mind, both of which are important to ward off illness and injury.
Good hygiene cannot be underestimated during this surge of the Coronavirus Omicron variant, especially if you are boarding trains-planes-and-automobiles to travel for the holidays. Not to be overlooked is basic common sense and proper etiquette when it comes to covering noses and mouths to protect others from sneezes, coughs, and close-talking spittle (yes, social-distancing is still a thing). Maintaining good hygiene and cough/sneeze manners is also important while preparing food for your holiday guests. Vigorous hand-washing is a must, and preferable to merely using hand sanitizer because it actually removes dirt and debris from ones skin instead of rubbing it in further. Of course, depending where you are in your travels, hand-washing may not be the most convenient option; therefore, sanitizing your hands will be the next best thing to do.
Gear Up for Airplane and Other Travel
Always make sure that you have clean hands before you eat; and before you touch the inside of any of your orifices—eyes, nose, mouth, ears. In actuality, it is best to avoid touching these sensitive areas unless necessary, as they are susceptible to bringing germs into the body. Likewise, our skin is the body’s largest organ—meant to protect us from bacteria, pathogens, toxic substances, ultraviolet light, and more—so treat it well and keep it clean and healthy. Consider wiping down heavily touched areas on public transportation before getting too cozy—like handrails, tray tables, or rental car steering wheels. These small precautions and preventative measures can help to protect you against allowing your immune system to become compromised, or getting sick in general.
A strong immune system as your foundation and good preventative measures are two of the best natural defenses against the Coronavirus Omicron variant ruining your holiday now, or making your life miserable in the future.
About the Coronavirus Recovery Plan Team:
The Coronavirus Recovery Plan team is comprised of a group Business Consultants, First Responders, Health Professionals, and Financial Advisors who decided to come together to help others during this crazy and uncertain COVID-19 pandemic…but more importantly prepare people for the aftermath when the dust eventually settles. Just like you, we were negatively impacted by the ravages of the Coronavirus and were seeking information and answers to important questions.
The Coronavirus Recovery Plan Team’s goal is to assist you with the best COVID-19 resources and information in one convenient place. We are adding new content and resources as fast as we can—after we vet it for quality versus quantity. In that way, we are building a very valuable Resource Center, which will help people long after the immediate Coronavirus crisis has subsided. We welcome you on that journey! It is our sincere hope that you benefit from the information we are providing, and that you will check back frequently for updates.
For access to more resources exclusive to the Coronavirus Recovery Plan Community…
- CDC Centers for Disease Control. “Variant of Concern (VOC)”.
3. Rachel Gutman, The Atlantic (Senior Associate Editor). “The Pandemic of the Vaccinated is Here”.
4. John Hopkins University. Our World In Data. “COVID-19 cases, tests, positive rate, and reproduction rate”.
5. Our World in Data. “Daily new Confirmed COVID-19 Cases per Million People”.
6. Medical News Today. “B-Vitamins Daily Value Chart”.