Message from Rabbi Dr. Aaron Glatt, Director of RAA/Igud’s Halacha and Medicine Commision
I was very much hoping that such updates would not be necessary any more, but unfortunately, that is not the case.
The Omicron variant has been making very rapid inroads across the world, and specifically, it is very prevalent now in the metropolitan area, including Nassau County. This variant is much more contagious than any of the previous strains, including Delta.
As a result, we are unfortunately seeing more and more Covid hospitalizations.
While most hospitalizations, and almost all Covid patients requiring ICU care, and almost all deaths in the US in the past half year have been occurring in unvaccinated persons, we are now seeing more hospitalizations in people who were doubly vaccinated many months ago but who have not yet gotten their booster shots. This is especially true for older patients and those with underlying medical problems.
It is imperative to realize that Omicron infections will occur more frequently in even triply vaccinated persons because it is so highly contagious. However serious illness will be prevented in the vast majority of such patients. Hence the need for a booster dose if you are eligible for one but have not yet received it. This is for all people aged 16 years and older.
Patients who have been reluctant to get vaccinated because they had Covid in the past and felt that they had natural immunity and / or antibodies, are also strongly encouraged to get vaccinated. There is growing evidence that natural immunity from prior Covid infections will be much less effective against Omicron, whereas vaccination will significantly bolster their immunity.
Equally important is the fact that the two main currently available monoclonal antibody infusion products do not have efficacy against Omicron. As the greater NYC metropolitan area now has the majority of Covid isolates being the Omicron variant, that means that most major medical centers will stop offering these monoclonal antibody infusions in the immediate future as they will no longer work.
There is an extremely limited supply of a newer monoclonal infusion that may still have efficacy against Omicron, but it will be restricted to a very small number of highest risk patients with early Covid infection. And unfortunately, the FDA authorized medication molnupiravir also does not seem to have efficacy against Omicron, meaning that we have very limited options to treat Covid-19 pre-hospitalization at the current time. This is particularly worrisome.
I will discuss these and other ramifications of Omicron this motzei Shabbos December 25th from 8:00 – 8:30 PM on YouTube Live: link.
Rabbi Dr. Aaron Glatt