• Quote: ‘Thanks to Ómicron normality will return sooner. In countries with more resources and access to vaccines, such as Spain, it may happen by summer’

THE strong increase in infections in the last month, due to the rapid expansion of the Omicron variant, will cause many people to acquire immunity from the infection.

Omicron variant, detected in South Africa and Botswana, was distributed throughout the world within weeks.

Its main threat is a very high infection capacity, more than previous ones such as Delta.

Early studies indicate that the severity of disease with the Omicron variant tends to be milder, than with other variants. Proof of this is the low level of mortality associated with it.

Pandemic end

Experts believe that this variant can end the pandemic, due to becoming more and more like a common respiratory virus and.becoming prevalent in many countries.

The paradox is that it can come when many countries register their maximum infections of the entire pandemic.

Spain

Spain registered, for the first time, more than 100,000 positives in one day, while France doubled that figure, exceeding 200,000 infections. With such a high transmission, some experts consider Ómicron as the ‘vaccine’ of the unvaccinated and, in this way, the end of the pandemic.

Spanish flu

Adolfo García Sastre, virologist at the Monte Sinaí hospital, reflected to what happened in 1918 with the so-called Spanish flu.

“It lasted between two and three years – there were no vaccines – and people acquired immunity from infection.

“It was a very transmissible virus, practically everyone was infected,” said Garcia Sastre.

“After many people became infected, especially in the last year, it was when the virus began to behave very similar to the flu,” he was quoted in El Mundo.

The Spanish flu, more than a century ago, bears some resemblance to the current situation of the pandemic, with uncontrolled infections in many countries.

“It seems closer to that moment in which the infections will no longer cause so much alarm because they will not generate the same proportion of hospitalisations,” he said.

It will not be necessary to take extra measures such as confinements, curfews or capacity restrictions said García Sastre.

“Thanks to Ómicron normality will return sooner. In countries with more resources and access to vaccines, such as Spain, it may happen as of next summer,” he said.

He defended his theory by assuring that by then, between vaccinated and infected by this strong wave due to Ómicron, saying: “The immunised people will be so great that the virus becomes seasonal, similar to the flu, and that it does not cause problems. That it is creating right now.”

Miguel Ángel del Pozo, a researcher at the National Center for Cardiovascular Research (CNIC) said: “It will immunise people who have not been vaccinated. Its high transmissibility will contribute to group immunity.”

Unvaccinated

It does not mean that it is not necessary to be vaccinated in the case of these people, the infection can end up causing long-term problems.

The lower severity that, a priori, Ómicron causes, is still a greater risk for those who have not received the vaccine.

“It will cause many to become infected, but the cost can be great because a percentage of them will be hospitalised and, of these, some will die. It is a very high price to pay,” he said.

During the 1918 flu, without vaccines, with natural immunity and a high cost in lives, about 50 million – almost 10 times more than the current coronavirus pandemic, approximately currently 5.5 million.