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Omicron - How does it change Covid risk and what should we do about it? 2022-01-09T23:13:06.084Z

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Comment by jackc on Omicron - How does it change Covid risk and what should we do about it? · 2022-01-27T08:24:33.970Z · LW · GW

I've made several updates to my guide to incorporate your input. I'll be trying the 7500 and 2291s next. Thanks again!

Comment by jackc on Omicron - How does it change Covid risk and what should we do about it? · 2022-01-24T23:13:52.760Z · LW · GW

Thanks! I didn't realize that Zoro was owned by Grainger, that makes me feel much better about them. I also had a decent experience buying from them, it was still much slower than Amazon but not too bad. I'll add a recommended link to them.

Comment by jackc on Omicron - How does it change Covid risk and what should we do about it? · 2022-01-23T08:26:07.177Z · LW · GW

And to add to my last comment, just to explain why I wrote things the way I did, I think the more important thing in terms of recommendations to a general audience is that in my personal experience, most people I've talked to have indeed upgraded to an N95, but extremely few people I've talked to have actually ended up wearing a P100 elastomeric. They have a ton of advantages, but most people simply don't want to use them. So in my mask article I explain the advantages, but in my general advice article I feel like it's more useful to simply say upgrade to a N95 or P100.

Comment by jackc on Omicron - How does it change Covid risk and what should we do about it? · 2022-01-23T07:50:22.937Z · LW · GW

I agree with most of your points, especially about poor seal for typical N95s, but in my personal experience, I am often wearing a mask intermittently, not wearing it for the whole day, and in that context I typically prefer to use a N95 which I can fold and put in my pocket - that convenience is very important for me. I definitely do recommend an elastomeric P100 for long-duration wear where the convenience factor is not an issue. And I found it basically impossible to make myself audible in a loud crowded environment, although it's fine in quieter environments.

I have not done a lot of detailed research into different P100 filters, my cursory reading suggested that they were generally "good enough" for my purposes (N95->P100 being a large difference, while different P100 filters having only a relatively small difference, as far as I know), but I appreciate your info and suggestions.

The counterfeiting issues I've heard of mostly apply to N95s/KN95s/etc. I had not previously heard of it in the context of elastomeric respirators and their filters, although it wouldn't surprise me. My experience with a couple other vendors I tried has been unpleasant (issues with long delays and no stock etc), so I ended up just going with Amazon. Do you have recommended vendors?

Comment by jackc on Omicron - How does it change Covid risk and what should we do about it? · 2022-01-22T22:33:58.544Z · LW · GW

I mostly agree with you and go into that in detail on https://firstsigma.github.io/masks but I think the "average" reader (especially one who is still wearing cloth/surgical) is better served by a recommendation to upgrade to N95 first. I find that P100s are great for many situations, but they do have their downsides.

Comment by jackc on Omicron variolation? · 2022-01-09T20:02:46.609Z · LW · GW

I don't think it's the worst idea but I have a couple reasons I am actively avoiding getting Omicron this month:

  • I expect a strong chance that a new variant displaces Omicron in the next say year (we had ~3 displacements in the last ~year: Alpha Delta Omicron). So then the question becomes, how much does Omicron protect against the next big variant (probably a good amount). Vs how much does your vaccine already protect you against the next big variant (probably similar). If that's the case, I don't see much advantage to getting Omicron.
  • I'd expect Omicron to infect a large fraction of the population, but it's unlikely to infect "almost everyone" (before Omicron is displaced by the next big variant). So I definitely think it's still avoidable.
  • Getting Omicron in January is the highest risk time due to strain on treatment capacity. Also Paxlovid is becoming more available. I think the risk of very bad outcomes will be much lower in March.
  • If what you're optimizing for is protection from severe disease, vaccines already do really well.
  • The severity of Omicron looks less because more of Omicron's cases are breakthrough infections, which are less severe. If you look at the severity in people of a given vaccination status, it's about ~50% less severe by the latest estimates I could find, which is a lot better than Delta but similar to Alpha.

I have a post on some of these topics: https://firstsigma.github.io/omicron