I have spoken to a few folks whose (US based) employers are planning a Q1 reopening. Some of these employers have signaled a return to the office in Jan. Others are scheduling large group events in the first quarter of 2022.
All of this made perfect sense pre-Omicron.
We’ve been here before as well. In May, we felt a surge of optimism in the US. Vaccines were being broadly deployed. Everyone was expecting to be back in the office in September. Then Delta hit.
If past patterns are anything to go by, I think we’re going to see the same thing happen with Omicron. All Q1 re-opening plans are going to be delayed with the expected Omicron related spike in the middle of January.
While the data is early, signs seem to point to Omicron being more transmissible (or at least better at evading existing immunity). And, there are positive signs that it is less lethal – especially among folks who’ve received a booster (The data is constantly getting updated – so, I’m just going to link to Eric Topol’s excellent Twitter account).
Learning from past patterns, Omicron will likely not be the last mutation. So, some of these reopening plans may be pushed back a few times. The unpredictability isn’t going away anytime soon.
All of this won’t make it any easier for the immunocompromised and the elderly unfortunately. But, thanks to vaccines, boosters, and soon-to-arrive anti-viral pills, we’ll hopefully become better and better equipped to deal with this evolving pandemic.
It just won’t happen overnight. And I think we’re better off setting those expectations for ourselves.
Here’s hoping reality exceeds our (lowered) expectations.