It is going to take “hard-heeled epidemiology public health data” to get a good idea on that, he said, explaining that Delta was more about how many people you have sharing a space. “Social distancing and masking was not as important as ventilation and density,” he said. 

But he said wearing a mask is better than not wearing one. “But is the increase in safe protection that you have significant? It’s hard to say with Delta, but with the earlier variant, yes, it was significant.” Still, Lang said he wears a mask if he is going into a crowded environment, but he doesn’t have as much confidence wearing one as he used to.

On the other mitigating tools, Lang said he is optimistic because a lot of good data is starting to come in. He noted that both Pfizer and Merck have developed the antiviral pills paxlovid and molnupiravir, respectively, that could be promising. Pfizer has said its pill reduces Covid-19 hospitalization rates by 89%, which Lang said is “a huge deal.” Both companies, he said, have indicated that their medications should remain effective against Omicron.

Pfizer also has indicated that its antiviral pill could be available by the end of the month. “I hate to use the term gamechanger, but they do have the potential to be a gamechanger,” he said.

Vaccines, he said, should also continue to prove effective against the new variant. He noted that Pfizer’s CEO Albert Bourla has indicated that research “Is showing that if you have the booster, you have enough antibodies and you have enough cellular immune response that it may not prevent infection, but it will significantly prevent intensive hospitalization and deaths,” he said. “And that’s a big deal.”

Additionally, both Moderna and Pfizer have said roughly within 100 days they plan to have modified vaccines that specifically address the Omicron variant. “[It could] can bring us back to the high-level of prevention we have had with Delta,” he said. “I wouldn’t bet the farm, but I am very optimistic right now.”

Lang said he is not recommending that people change doing what they are comfortable with doing during the holidays. But he said they should think twice about close crowds. Gatherings should be in a well-ventilated area, and at a minimum, people should wear masks. But he said outdoor Christmas events are much lower risk. “We have not seen things spread from huge football stadiums where everybody is yelling and screaming,” he said.

Lang said people also should think twice about  international travel during this time. 

“If you go someplace in the world and you just happen to be the unlucky one who gets Omicron, are you going to be put into some isolation for a couple of weeks? I have a high sense of things like that, so I am a little uncomfortable right now with international travel,” he said. 

Founded in 1998, WorldClinic is a private, concierge telemedicine practice that handles health issues affecting organizations, senior executives and individuals and their families.

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