Dr. Vivek H. Murthy, US Surgeon General, and his family have tested positive for the coronavirus. Dr Murthy said on Friday that he and his wife had mild symptoms.
He had muscle aches, chills and a sore throat, he said on Twitter, while his wife suffered from headaches and fatigue. He said his 5-year-old son had a mild fever and his 4-year-old daughter, who tested positive over the weekend, was improving. He expressed the same frustration that parents share every day when their children fall ill, knowing they have to expose themselves while comforting loved ones. But it was a choice he said he and his wife would make again.
“When you’ve been as safe as possible, contracting Covid-19 can be frustrating and disappointing,” Dr Murthy wrote. “I felt that. It can also be a source of shame. Many people assume that you must have been negligent to get sick. Our security measures reduce risk, but they cannot eliminate risk. Nothing can.
The fact that one of America’s top public health authorities and his family were infected with Covid underscores how extraordinarily transmissible the Omicron variant is and how accurate the predictions for the variant were.
Even though the number of new cases in many places has returned to what it was before the last surge, the average number of daily infections for Omicron in the United States is over 100,000 and the average number of daily deaths is over 2,300. And it does so while appearing to cause less severe illnesses than its predecessors.
Omicron has infected millions of people and may well have infected many more who have not been tested. At the same time, tens of millions of people remain vulnerable.
Diminishing immunity, new variants and those choosing not to be vaccinated have helped make herd immunity and the idea that the virus could be stopped a relic of the first pandemic.
The coronavirus is unlikely to ever go away, many scientists say, and people’s immunity to the virus will be imperfect, for a variety of reasons.
Health officials estimated in 2020 that vaccinating around 70% of the population could push the country past the herd immunity threshold, meaning the coronavirus would become a much smaller threat.
Dr. Murthy used the example to remind people of the threat that Omicron continues to pose.
“So if you did everything you could and still caught Covid-19, don’t worry,” he wrote. “Many of us are doing our best. And don’t assume that those who get sick are negligent. We don’t know people’s situations. They may not be able to protect themselves the way we can.