“For the last two years we’ve dealt with Covid in the sense of Delta, which is a very dangerous disease, we’ve had an elimination strategy … and I think it’s built up quite a fear or anxiety in the community about Covid.
“However, in the last four to five weeks, the situation has changed dramatically with Omicron, which is not Delta – it’s much more like a common cold, flu-like illness. And I think we need to move into a space very rapidly of thinking we’re going to live with this and get back to some sort of normality.”
“We need to be de-escalating this down to get into a position where most of us are just going to have a mild to moderate illness, that we’re going to get through like any respiratory illness in winter, and we need to be moving on, and perhaps the way we’re approaching it at the moment is causing more problems than good, and we may have reached a pivot point with that.”
One way to lessen the climate of anxiety and fear was to acknowledge that for most people Omicron would be manageable and look at reducing isolation requirements, he said.
“Yes, some people will end up in hospital, we know that’s the case, but this is just part of the normal viral illness that we’ve now got living with us at this point and we need to take a step back.
Dr Betty makes the point that other health issues for vulnerable people need to come to the fore
Dr Betty said he was also concerned that Covid-19 was putting a freeze on things like healthcare programmes, including childhood immunisation rates, which he said had fallen to 76 percent.
“I’m really worried about measles or whooping cough showing itself up again. And these are actually dangerous conditions that I believe could have the potential to start to be with us again because Covid is dominating our discourse at this point.”
Stuff has also produced a good backgrounders on the changed world of the Omicron variant and whether our vaccine mandate restrictions are “fit for purpose” here.