Boosted, fully vaccinated are ‘in pretty good shape’ against omicron, Beshear says

But everyone else could be in for a long winter.
Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear speaks about the increases in COVID-19 cases in the state and the...
Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear speaks about the increases in COVID-19 cases in the state and the opening day of the Kentucky State Legislature special session in Frankfort, Ky., Tuesday, Sept. 7, 2021. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)(Timothy D. Easley | AP)
Published: Dec. 20, 2021 at 5:56 PM EST
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CINCINNATI (WXIX) - Gov. Andy Beshear on Monday said the state has moved away from using case counts as the primary metric for determining the severity of a COVID-19 surge in Kentucky.

The move is prefigured by the rise of the omicron variant. Research shows it spreads much faster than the original virus.

“Omicron is spreading faster than anything we’ve ever seen,” Beshear said. “It looks like it is one of the most contagious viruses in modern history.”

The variant is now the most common variant in the US, accounting for nearly three-quarters of COVID-19 cases, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

The variant also appears to evade existing COVID-19 therapeutic treatments such as the monoclonal antibodies that are already in short supply.

What does work against the variant is being vaccinated, Beshear said citing early data from New York City and around the world.

“If you haven’t gotten vaccinated yet, please consider doing it now,” he said.

Moderna said on Monday that lab tests showed the half-dose booster shot increased by 37 times the level of so-called neutralizing antibodies able to fight omicron. A full dose was even stronger.

“If you’re freshly vaccinated, you’re pretty well protected,” Beshear said. “And if you’re fully vaccinated and boosted, again, it looks like you’re in pretty good shape.”

The governor continued: “It may be that you still contract the omicron variant if you’re vaccinated, but [...] it’s unlikely that you will get sick. If you’re unvaccinated, it looks like it can hit you—and hit you pretty hard.”

The upshot is case counts in Kentucky and elsewhere are no longer the standard by which leaders should assess a surge.

Cases are likely to spike regardless. Hospitalization, ICU utilization and, eventually, death counts will be more important to follow.

Thanks to the vaccines, those metrics don’t figure to be as bad as they were during the pandemic’s previous surges.

It isn’t good news, the governor stressed, but “at least it’s not bad news.”

Weekly cases of COVID-19 in Kentucky
Weekly cases of COVID-19 in Kentucky(Kentucky Department of Public Health)
COVID vaccinations in Kentucky - Dec. 20, 2021
COVID vaccinations in Kentucky - Dec. 20, 2021(Kentucky Department of Public Health)

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