The advice is to get more vaccines and boosters. Oh, and masks.
In a rare case of attempting to perform an act of science, while at the same time transparently sharing the data, the Brown administration has left many speechless -- including the media -- as they struggle to develop COVID policy.
Governor Brown was clear in her emphatic assertion that boosters work against the Omicron variant. In a December 17 press conference, she said, “I know that bracing for a new variant as we head into our second pandemic holiday season is not what we all hoped for. If you take one thing away from today’s press conference, let it be this: Get your booster shot. Boosters work and are incredibly effective at continuing your protection against this virus and hospitalization.”
However, as a part of her December 17 press conference, Dr. Peter Graven who is the Lead Data Scientist at Oregon Health Sciences University presents his forecast for the impact of Omicron in Oregon. It's largely based on data out of Denmark which has 91,104 cases of Omicron infection with 25 hospitalizations. You read that right. 25. Watch the video below.
For most Oregonians that should be all they need to know. Government need not be developing policy and dedicating resources to a variant that is so mild that you have less than a .02% of a chance of being hospitalized. Instead, in the face of scientific data indicating the contrary, the advice is to get more vaccines and boosters.
According to data in the forecast, "The percent breakthrough [in Denmark] is 77% for Delta (“Other variants”) and 91% for Omicron. Both are high compared to [Denmark's] vaccination rate of 80%." It seems that vaccines are not so "Incredibly effective at continuing your protection against this virus and hospitalization,” as Governor Brown suggests.
What is notable about the Governor's response to Omicron is that there is no talk of natural immunity, or the immunity one gets from becoming infected. What if the 99.98% of Danes who become infected are endowed with a natural immunity whose effectiveness surpasses that of vaccines and boosters? This could mean the end of the outbreak and the dawn of herd immunity as the virus is unable to find receptive hosts.
It's equally disappointing to see that the media present at the press conference unable to focus on natural immunity. One member of the media asks, "Do we have a forecast for deaths from Omicron?" Dr. Graven responds, "We are not getting the deaths we had before." Then he turns the question to hospitalizations, which again, are minimal.