The high infectivity of the less severe Omicron variant will make a return to normal life possible by March after a peak in infections at the end of January, according to Danish epidemiologist Tyra Grove Krause.
Krause is vice-president of the Danish Statens Serum Institut (SSI), and a key advisor to Denmark’s Government in dealing with the coronavirus crisis.
The country is seeing a high new wave of infections, and registered a record number of 23,228 confirmed cases in just 24 hours, making Denmark one of the countries with the highest number of daily infections in relation to its total population (about 5.8 million inhabitants) in the world.
“Everything indicates that Omicron is milder than Delta, and that the risk of ending up in hospital is only half as high,” Krause told Danish media, based on a study conducted by the SSI.
For her, the high infectivity of Omicron is even good news in that respect, as it “will lead to a massive spread of the infection in the coming month, with a peak at the end of January.”
“That will be another difficult month. But once it is over, we are in a better position than before,” Krause said. “I think the infection rate will start dropping in two months, and by March, we can return to normal life.”
On Twitter, Krause clarified that she “expressed cautious optimism about the situation when we have overcome the Omicron wave,” and added that “new variants may challenge us, but with vaccines, hopefully, SARS-CoV-2 will turn into just another airway virus we can live normally with.”
In an interview with Danish TV2 I have expressed cautious optimism about the situation when we have overcome the Omicron wave. New variants may challenge us, but with vaccines hopefully SARS-CoV-2 will turn into just another airway virus we can live normally with.
— Tyra Grove Krause (@TyraGroveKrause) January 5, 2022
In Belgium, virologist Steven Van Gucht made similar statements in an interview with De Standaard on Wednesday, predicting that January and February will be two “very unpleasant” months. “We will have to grit our teeth a little longer. But in March, I predict improvement.”
However, he also stressed that the experts are still waiting for the models from biostatistician Niel Hens to be able to say something with some accuracy about the characteristics of Omicron. “Guesses and broad parameters make the models go in all directions. We have to wait until the data are more reliable.”
Still, Van Gucht and his colleague Marc Van Ranst also pointed out while the chance of ending up in hospital is indeed 50% smaller with Omicron, that effect is negated if twice as many people become infected.