Omicron: Our New Fierce Foe

How To Decide if Holiday Gatherings Are Safe For Your Family

Robin Schoenthaler, MD


Photo by Jeremy Bezanger on Unsplash

I’m a Boston-based cancer doctor and I’ve been writing weekly fact-based-no-blame-no-rumors-all-science-all-the-time essays about Covid-19 since March 2020.

You can read my older views on why you should get your cold symptoms tested here — or about boosters here — or you can read about vaccines/anti-vaxxers throughout history here

It is hard for me to recall such a week of unrelenting bad news. I spent the week reading eight gajillion texts saying, “My daughter in Brooklyn had 15 friends turn positive this morning” or “Everybody in our carpool got it” Or “We had 20 people at our office party and 16 tested positive.”

And likewise there were at least 15 gazillion notifications about drugs not working, vaccines not working, the little kids’ vaccine trial not working — a very tough week for us all.

Out of all of this has emerged new science, new data, new forecasts, and new ways to think about the holidays.

Here Comes Santa Claus, Along With An Omicron Surge

Omicron is so wildly contagious we are now inevitably moving into another surge, which will be “fierce” in terms of cases, hospital burden, and life disruption.

Already in the US cases are spreading like wildfire, like warm butter on a hot pancake, like a house afire, like….like….like a virus.

Like one of the fastest-spreading viruses in modern history. Like where the decisions you make today will be out of date next week.

I know it is horrible to hear this, and I know everybody is feeling like They Just Can’t Do This Covid Thing Anymore, but unfortunately this is what it is, and what this is is BIOLOGY.

And forget about people saying this surge might be “mild.”

Yes, the vaccines look like they are continuing to prevent serious disease, and hooray for that, it’s no small thing.

And yes, maybe Omicron symptoms are milder and we’ll see fewer hospitalizations (maybe).

But really — the only “mild” thing about this surge will be people’s individual symptoms, eg it’s much…



Robin Schoenthaler, MD

Covid-Translator. Cancer doc: ~Three decades at MGH. Writer and storyteller: Moth Grand Slam Champion. Mom., @robinshome,