I know for the sake of their mental health, a lot of people are choosing to avoid reading any more than necessary about Covid-19 or the news in general, and if that applies to you then I promise there are no hard feelings if you just close this window and don’t read the rest of this post 😅 I myself think my stress is being exacerbated by how much I have read on social media about this Omicron variant. Nonetheless… I feel like I’ve gotta vent, so here’s a post anyway, for those who can stomach it.

In short, this Omicron variant and its very rapid rate of spread has me worried. Last week I was checking out graphs of case numbers in various places where it’s taken root, and in pretty much every case the daily case numbers had shaded fast into what was almost a vertical line. Case numbers in New South Wales have gone from ~200 per day to today’s 5,700 in just a few weeks. Here in Victoria we had been fairly fortunate, with case numbers holding relatively steady (albeit still a bit high) at 1,500 per day despite some potential superspreading events. Nonetheless it seemed like only a matter of time before Omicron crossed the Murray in force, and today’s numbers appear to reflect that, with a sudden jump to 2,005 cases. I am genuinely afraid of what’s going to happen with the huge number of gatherings that’ll take place over Christmas.

Vivian is actually getting a bit annoyed with me because multiple nights this week he’s wanted to go out to restaurants or the movies or something and I’ve just been like no, no, no, haha. The thing is that I do want to be able to see my family over Christmas and so I’ve been limiting non-essential excursions to the bare minimum. Even my Christmas shopping has been limited to buying chocolate – thankfully my family aren’t very materialistic 😂 In contrast, I don’t think Vivian would really mind if he was told he was a close contact and ordered to isolate over Christmas… he might even find it a relief to avoid some of the family politics (mostly on his side), haha. But even accounting for that, I also just don’t think he perceives the risk as high as I do.

I mean, we are both double-vaccinated. And all my other loved ones (though not all of his) are also double-vaccinated. But all those loved ones of mine have been double-vaccinated with AstraZeneca, which reportedly offers very little protection against infection with the Omicron variant (but still does offer protection against “severe” disease). My mum is medically vulnerable and I’m not sure how she’d go even with the “mild” form of the disease. And look, even though my dad is perfectly healthy, he is getting older and I know he’s been stressed and not sleeping all that well lately. I’m just worried for them, I guess. And in addition to that I guess I should be worried for myself, because I have a really terrible track record recovering from respiratory infections. With ordinary colds, usually it takes me a week and a half before I even feel capable of dragging myself to work again, and about that long again before I’ve “fully recovered”. I can’t imagine Covid being any better.

The lines we keep hearing go “Get your booster dose! Two doses is NOT fully vaccinated! Only THREE doses offer full protection!” (and having said that, Israel now reckons that a fourth dose is required…) and yet I’m not eligible for a booster under the current rules until the end of February, and it’s a pretty similar deal for everyone else I know, because we just weren’t able to get vaccine bookings early enough in the year that we’d already be eligible for a booster. Not unless the government reduces the timeframe between second doses and booster shots to three months, and so far they’ve been refusing to go lower than five. So… 🤷🏻‍♀️ Two doses had better make a significant difference, at least.

Regardless of vaccines or the fact that the situation in Victoria isn’t looking as bad as NSW yet, I’m thinking it’s pretty much inevitable that Vivian and I are going to be exposed, and in the long term probably inevitable that we’ll actually catch Covid, ourselves. I never got sucked in to the “panic buying” of last year but I have stocked up now on some basic things so we wouldn’t have to worry about grocery shopping for a week or so if we did get ordered to isolate. Or to tide us over if the real “panic buying” starts up again, I guess. I just feel better having a little bit of a buffer.

If we actually contract Covid, my buffer might only be partially helpful (what if it leaves us too tired to cook?! 😂). Honestly, I think my feelings about that possibility are just “abject fear”, and I haven’t managed to be like, “OK, but if it did happen, these are the measures we would take to ensure we get through it.” Like earlier today I saw some tip that if you can, it’d be a good idea for your household to have a blood oxygenation reader on hand, so you can monitor that and notice before it’s too late if an infected household member’s blood oxygen levels are dropping dangerously. We don’t have one of those, but I guess we could get one. Would it be the kind of thing to bring me peace of mind?

To bring politics into this rambling post, I am really unhappy with the prime minister and new NSW premier’s attitude that it’s time to just “let the virus rip”. Like especially in the latter’s case, to wait until case numbers start spiking dramatically and choosing that moment to lift mask mandates, QR check-ins and and the “lock-out” rules affecting unvaccinated people…1 I guess you can have a philosophical debate about whether the state should be mandating mask use but the fact is that it already was, but then removed the mandate just as it became more critical for public health than it had been in months, basically for ideological reasons. Look dude, if you think a requirement to wear a mask is “bad for business”, you are gonna hate to see how it is for business when there are tens of thousands of cases a day, the hospital system has broken down under the strain, and loads of people are dying. “Personal responsibility” my fucking arse. I thought The Chaser put it well(external link): Traffic laws abolished in NSW as residents are encouraged to show personal responsibility instead.

I am also put off by all the people celebrating that Omicron seems “less severe” than Delta, without taking into account the heightened infectiousness (or the fact that not all studies are even indicating a lesser severity in the first place). One stat I saw in an article somewhere is that at this early stage, a case of Omicron-variant Covid is only 60% as likely to result in hospitalisation than Delta. The thing is, if Omicron is spreading like five times as fast, that just means fucking nothing. Right? Where NSW had been cruising is 200ish cases a day, and if you estimate a 5% hospitalisation rate for Delta, that’s about 10 hospitalisations a day. But NSW has been told to expect 25,000 cases of Omicron a day next month, and even if Omicron only has a 3% hospitalisation rate, that’s 750 hospitalisations a day… spot the difference, yeah? But according to Scott Morrison and Dominic Perottet, “they’re the same picture”. Both of them are also trying to claim we don’t need to worry about case numbers, only hospitalisation ones, as if one wasn’t a leading indicator of the other. And honestly, if I worked in a hospital, I think I would be really upset by the implication that hospitals aren’t already under immense strain, and are totally equipped to handle a massive influx of Covid patients. They’ve been starved of funding for years in the name of “efficiency”, and the government hasn’t suddenly fixed their systematic underresourcing just because a global pandemic started. God forbid, no. Remember, the mantra is “personal responsibility”, not the government doing things – yuck!

I don’t know. I’m anxious, and I’m angry. The “silver lining” that Omicron might burn through the entire population so fast that it’ll have to slow down because it’ll have no one left to infect is not really a silver lining, for the reasons I just went over, although it is quite possibly inevitable. I’m trying to keep myself distracted with browser games and the cricket and the day-to-day demands of household upkeep but it is genuinely a stressful time.

  1. Apparently he has now backed down on the QR check-in part, so those are back. ↩︎