Catching omicron on purpose puts community at risk, UCSF doctor says

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Thursday, January 13, 2022
Expert: Catching omicron on purpose could lead to worse variant
As more health officials are trying to prepare for a omicron community surge, some people are thinking about taking matters into their own hands.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- As more top health officials are trying to prepare the community for a higher-likelihood to contract omicron, some people are thinking about taking matters into their own hands.

You've heard of chicken pox parties, but now people are considering getting COVID on purpose.

It's something that's surprising doctors like UCSF Infectious Disease Specialist Dr. Peter Chin-Hong to hear.

"I think there's a sense of fatalism in people," Dr. Chin-Hong said. "Like, 'I'm going to get it anyways, so why not just get it and get it over with and maybe I won't have that anxiety trying to protect myself'."

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Gone are the days people had chicken pox parties, now people are talking about getting COVID on purpose.

"The big difference between a chicken pox party and getting omicron on purpose is people are still dying from omicron," Dr. Chin-Hong said. "We're still recording over 1,000 deaths per day and that's no chump change. It is a very different ballgame."

Dr. Chin-Hong says it's a bad idea to get omicron on purpose because of what it can do to yourself, to others and to the virus.

"If you go out and try to get it, you're probably going to get a huge or unpredictable dose of virus," Dr. Chin-Hong said.

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He adds this could lead to a more severe case of omicron than someone who got it by chance.

You could get long-haul symptoms and stress the healthcare system more than it is.

In addition, you could pass it to the community's most at risk population.

"The more people that get sick, the higher the chance that other people in the community would get sick," Dr. Chin-Hong said.

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While there is evidence omicron symptoms are more mild than other COVID variants, Dr. Chin-Hong says the more transmission we have, the higher the likelihood of an even worse variant around the corner.

"We know that for a fact and we never know when or where that's going to happen," Dr. Chin-Hong said. "So, the more we have a grasp on control of the number of transmissions, the better it is, not just for yourself, but for all of us."

But Dr. Chin-Hong says this can be best avoided if you don't get sick on purpose.

His advice is to hold on. He says the surge is peaking and brighter days will come soon.

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