The Truth About the Omicron Variant

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Dan O’Donnell presents the most comprehensive analysis yet of Omicron variant deaths

@DanODonnellShow A look at the 277 COVID-19 deaths investigated by Mke Co Med Examiner fr Dec 1 (when Omicron bec dominant strain) through Jan 17 reveals that the average Omicron victim was 71.5 years old w/ 2.45 comorbidities Click To Tweet
@DanODonnellShow The avoidance of obesity, diabetes & heart disease so greatly decreases the chances of death from the Omicron that the promotion of a healthy lifestyle should have always been the primary means of combatting COVID Click To Tweet

 

January 19, 2022
Perspective by Dan O’Donnell

The most comprehensive analysis yet of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 reveals nearly everyone who has died of it was suffering from at least two serious comorbidities that either significantly contributed to or served as the primary cause of death.

The Milwaukee County Medical Examiner’s Office is one of the few agencies in the country that logs comorbidities or contributing causes of COVID-19 deaths.  A comprehensive look at every one of the 277 COVID-19 deaths investigated by the Milwaukee County Medical Examiner’s Office from December 1st (when Omicron became the dominant strain of COVID-19 in America) through January 17th reveals that the average Omicron victim was 71.5 years old with 2.45 comorbidities.

The avoidance of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease so greatly decreases the chances of death from the Omicron variant that the promotion of a healthy lifestyle is and should have always been the primary means of combatting COVID

Much like the original strain of COVID and this summer’s Delta variant, the Omicron variant is almost exclusively killing older people.  No one under the age of 30 died, and only three people under age 40 succumbed to COVID since December 1st.  Two of them had significant comorbidities; one was morbidly obese and the second had severe cognitive disabilities.  Just 13 people under the age of 50 died, and all but one had comorbidities, including seven who were obese (and three who were morbidly obese).

All but 15 of the 277 Omicron victims had comorbidities, and a full 52 percent had three or more.  By far the most common comorbidities were diabetes, which was listed as a contributing factor in 34 percent of all Omicron deaths, and hypertensive cardiovascular disease, from which 26 percent were suffering at the time of death.

The implications of this are significant, as both diabetes and hypertensive cardiovascular disease (which is caused by high blood pressure) are markers of an unhealthy lifestyle and can lead to far more serious health complications, including heart attacks and strokes.  It would appear that the same precautions against those maladies—eating healthy and staying physically active—can also better protect one against serious complications and death from the Omicron variant.

 

 

This is further underscored by the fact that 15.5 percent of all Omicron victims in Milwaukee County were classified as obese (including 13 people who were listed as “morbidly obese”).  Since obesity is well documented to significantly shorten lifespan and lead to all manner of negative health outcomes.  Is it any wonder that it would lead to worse outcomes with COVID-19, too?

For the duration of the pandemic, it has been widely known that obesity and illnesses related to an unhealthy lifestyle such as type II diabetes and hypertensive cardiovascular disease were risk factors for more severe COVID-19, but Omicron has drawn this into sharp relief.

While overall case numbers have skyrocketed over the past two months, hospitalizations and deaths have not…except in people who were unhealthy to begin with.  10 percent of all Omicron victims in Milwaukee County were suffering from congestive heart failure, while another six percent had cancer.  This would tend to indicate that they were in extremely poor health and their immune systems were significantly compromised when they were diagnosed with COVID.

It would also tend to suggest that public health policy should revolve around the promotion of healthy lifestyles.  For the past year, the idea of vaccination as the only means of fighting COVID-19 has given the public the false belief that a vaccine can substitute for a healthy lifestyle.

58 of the 277 people who died with or of the Omicron variant in Milwaukee County (21 percent) were vaccinated, and all but one had significant comorbidities.  In fact, the average vaccinated Omicron victim had 2.4 comorbidities, which suggests that while vaccination may be an important weapon in the fight against COVID-19, it is but one weapon.  A far more effective one is a healthy diet and plenty of exercise.  The avoidance of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease so greatly decreases the chances of death from the Omicron variant that the promotion of a healthy lifestyle is and should have always been the primary means of combatting COVID.

Overreliance on vaccines (and only vaccines) has the effect of lulling the public into a false sense of security that poor lifestyle choices will have little impact on avoiding the ravages of COVID-19.  Nothing could be farther from the truth.  While COVID-19 can be deadly, it still pales in comparison to the masses of people killed each year by heart disease and strokes brought on by obesity, diabetes, and high blood pressure.

Now that the data reveals the truth about the Omicron variant and what is making it more deadly than it needs to be, it is time for public health policy to reflect reality: COVID-19 is only as deadly as an unhealthy lifestyle allows it to be.



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