Hospital nurse (FILE PHOTO)

The Omicron coronavirus variant is “less deadly” than the Delta variant. However, the public must avoid complacency and should get vaccinated immediately to prevent having severe COVID-19 infection, an infectious disease expert said.

“It is less deadly than Delta. Nakita na po iyan [This was already observed] in comparing 500,000 people with Omicron and 500,000 people with Delta in the UK [United Kingdom],” said Dr. Edsel Salvana, a member of the Department of Health- Technical Advisory Group during the Malacanang briefing on Thursday night, Jan. 6.

“You are three times less likely to get hospitalized with Omicron compared to Delta. And of course, that goes down even more kung bakunado po kayo [if you are vaccinated],” he added.

Salvana noted that vaccines will significantly protect people against severe disease and decrease “infectiousness and risk of mutations.” Getting the booster shot “will add more protection,” he added.

“Ang problema po natin yung mga provinces na mababa pa ang vaccination rates. Pag nakaabot ang Omicron, baka sila ang magkaroon ng severe disease if mababa pa ang bakunado, especially among the vulnerable population (Our problem is the provinces where vaccination rates are still low. When Omicron reaches them, people may get severe disease, especially among the vulnerable population),” noted Salvana.

“Fleeting contact lang pwede kang mahawa (With just a fleeting contact, you can be infected) from Omicron. It is very very contagious and it spreads very fast. If it takes five days to get symptoms from Delta, it only takes three days to get symptoms from Omicron,” he added.

Salvana said one of the priorities also is to keep hospitals open for severe cases.

“It is also very important that we have to keep our hospitals open—we have to prioritize the sickest of the sick. Hanggang ngayon, meron mild and moderate [cases] na napupunta sa (Until now, there are mild and moderate [cases] that go to the) hospital and that is crowding out people who really need to be in the hospital,” he said.

“We hope that as long as maraming nabakunahan (many are vaccinated), we can actually take care of these people at home safely because their risk of bad disease— kung Omicron yan and fully vaccinated sila— is very low—parang sa flu lang po. Basta bakunado, kahit mahawa ng Omicron (if it’s Omicron and they are fully vaccinated— is very low — just like the flu. As long as you are vaccinated, even if you are infected with Omicron), chances are it’s going to be mild like cold or flu,” he added.

Salvana said they are hoping that the trend of cases in the country will start to go down in the next few weeks just like what happened in South Africa.

“In South Africa, sobrang taas ng cases nila (their cases were really high) but then it started to go down in a matter of about four weeks,” he said.

Source: Manila Bulletin (