Disruption from Omicron Quarantines
10 days quarantine means many millions missing work on some days
This article discusses only one thing: potential social disruption from Omicron and personal quarantines for the sick. It does not discuss severity of Omicron.
So right now, Omicron cases are doubling every two days. As in any pandemic, the growth rates will eventually decrease, the disease will crest, and start subsiding. If we get lucky and vaccinated and boosted people develop natural immunity (which they might not be able to develop due to Original Antigenic sin, as I mention below), we may eventually develop group immunity to Covid and have it at low level by the end of February, unless lockdowns slow down this process.
That said, every person who has Covid, regardless of severity, is required to isolate for at least 10 days.
So let’s assume that Omicron spreads fast, and makes every person who has it, miss 10 days off work.
According to my models, in USA, we will see many millions of active cases on one particular day in January. Obviously, models are models and the virus is gonna virus, not knowing about models. My model will likely be spectacularly wrong and likely wrong by a lot, because it is just a model.
But regardless of modeling, it is clear that Omicron will probably indeed involve a large number of “cases”. Each case takes 10 days to quarantine.
So, on one cold January day, we could have a few millions or tens of millions who are home isolating.
As an industry person whose job involves serving manufacturers, I want to share what I know about this world. So, who will the “isolated” be?
Kids or retired persons — their absence will not be disruptive
Factory workers — their absence can be very disruptive if they have key roles, like the only person who knows how to maintain a critical heat treating furnace or a manufacturing line, or the chief power plant engineer
Transportation workers - obviously disruptive
Government officials - their absence could be quite disruptive
Medical workers — quite obvious
Since Omicron will likely involve local “outbreaks”, we could have entire factories and organizations stopped for a few days while their workers are recuperating. A doorknob manufacturing factory that is stopped, is not the end of the world. An outbreak at a major nuclear power plant, water treatment facility, slaughterhouse, or a big refrigerated warehouse with 200 truck docks, kind of is the end of the world.
The good news is that the faster is the pandemic rising, the faster it will reverse. If we did not do anything to slow Omicron down, it will be over in February. But we may have a wild ride, and that is regardless of its severity.
My company was down a year ago due to a covid outbreak.
Some people would say “but what about South Africa”? The pandemic will end soon there? Well maybe, but most of SA already had Covid without vaccines, and it is not so for the USA, UK or Denmark. The USA has about 40% of population who are covid survivor, but half of them may not even have proper natural immunity due to original antigenic sin.