Data shows that new infections are mainly in adults under 35, who are less likely to be hospitalized. If the subvariant spreads more widely among older people and in nursing homes, it could have a more serious impact. Citywide, 83% of people age 65 and older are fully vaccinated and 56% have received a booster shot.
Dr Wafaa El-Sadr, a professor of epidemiology at Columbia University, predicted there would be an “increase” in hospitalizations, but not of the magnitude seen earlier this year when Omicron filled the ER , stretched hospital staff almost to breaking point and killed more than 4,000 people.
“I don’t think it’s going to be like the previous Omicron surge,” she said.
Health experts point to several factors that make them think there will be fewer hospitalizations this time around.
On the one hand, some 800,000 New Yorkers have received a booster shot since the peak of the Omicron wave, and more doses of antiviral pills are pouring into the city than before, although the most effective – Paxlovid – would soon be out of stock if cases increase precipitously.
Epidemiologists also note that in addition to high vaccination rates, millions of New Yorkers – by some estimates more than 40% of the city – have been infected with Omicron and are now likely to have strong protection against BA. .2.
The potential for a new surge, as many businesses call employees back to their offices and Mayor Adams pushes for the city to return to pre-pandemic normal, has left many New Yorkers unsure if now is the time. to exercise extra caution or to continue. Many, but not all, vaccinated people have relatively mild symptoms of Omicron, including BA.2.
New York City has rallied against the coronavirus like few other American cities have: from the 7 p.m. cheer of spring 2020, to the widespread acceptance of indoor masking, to the vaccine requirements the strictest in the country. But this collective effort has faded.