Battle Against Omicron Strain 'Probably Already Lost', Danish Professor Says
So far, forecasts about the novel coronavirus strain remain polarised. While the director of Denmark's National Board of Health, Søren Brostrøm argued that Omicron may prove as contagious as the measles, Norwegian researcher Gunnveig Grødeland suggested the variant may actually be good news and a way out of the pandemic.
The onslaught of the Omicron strain may be very similar to the spread of the Delta variant, previously seen as one of the most contagious, Jakob Stoustrup, a professor of applied mathematics at Aalborg University and member of the reference group set up to advise the government on the COVID-19 pandemic, has argued.
“We can probably expect a similar development for Omicron, as we saw for Delta, where it quickly outperformed the previous strain. There are indications that the curve this time will also be very steep,” Stoustrup told
As the Delta variant spread, an expert group made a forecast of how much the variant would spread after three months. The forecast ended up being almost completely accurate, which according to Jakob Stoustrup is “very unusual”. However, more precise models for Omicron will not be available “until we get much further into the process”, he argued, as figures from South Africa cannot be transferred to European conditions due to differences in population composition, including factors such as age.
“Overall, the battle against Omicron is probably already lost, because there are so many cases now. We will live with Omicron, but we can avoid it becoming a health disaster,” Stoustrup argued.
In Denmark alone, the number of Omicron cases has risen to 398 in within a week of the arrival of the strain in the Nordic nation. Anette Lykke Petri, director of the Danish Agency for Patient Safety, confirmed that the country is now having a “societal spread” at a press conference on Tuesday.
Anette Lykke Petri also argued that Omicron may pose additional challenges.
“In part, there is some evidence that Omicron is more contagious than the Delta variant. In part, the community is much more open today than when Delta was introduced,” she argued.
The director of the National Board of Health, Søren Brostrøm, pointed out that compared to the Delta strain, Omicron looks like one of the most contagious that exist.
“The Delta variant is also extremely contagious, and if this new variant is even more contagious, then we may potentially have a virus that is as contagious as measles,” Søren Brostrøm told TV2.
By contrast, Norwegian researcher Gunnveig Grødeland of the University of Oslo, who is investigating the difference between the strains, has suggested the variant may be good news and a way out of pandemic.
“A COVID strain that spreads faster and causes milder disease is the best we can hope for”, Grødeland said.
According to Stoustrup, however, the pandemic “doesn't end as such”. The most likely end scenario, according to the professor, is a virus humanity is going to live with just like other in society. The goal is thus to move as close to the border of herd immunity as possible, he argued.
Despite travel bans imposed by many countries on 10 southern African nations and varying vaccination levels, the Omicron strain is now conformed to have spread to over 50 countries on all six inhabited continents.