Suga, Jin and JM of the Korean pop group BTS are the latest to report COVID-19 infections as the Omicron variant sweeps the United States and the world.
Dr. Gregory Poland, head of Mayo Clinic’s Vaccine Research Group, is among the researchers around the world following the new variant.
Some of the biggest questions about omicron are how easy it spreads and the severity of illness it causes.
“There are a number of aspects or words that we use to describe the behavior of a virus, Poland explained.
“One is infectivity or transmissibility. Let’s say I was infected. What’s the opportunity or the risk that I could spread that to you, an unimmunized and uninfected person? Virulence refers to the likelihood of disease that would be caused by that infection.”
All three band members tested positive for the virus but none of them were seriously ill and they are all well on the road to full health again after ending their period of self-isolation, according to their manager.
“We would like to inform you that BTS member SUGA has made a full recovery from COVID-19 and his quarantine has concluded as of noon, January 3,” Big Hit Music said in a statement.
Neither member exhibited any particular symptoms during their quarantine. Jin had a slight fever when he first began treatment at home but has since made a full recovery.”
“We would like to thank all fans who have shown concerns for the artist’s health as well as those in the medical field who are doing their best to overcome COVID-19.”
Suga was the first to test positive on Christmas Eve upon returning to South Korea from the US. Three days later, it was confirmed RM and Jin had also tested positive.
“After returning on Friday the 17th from the United States following his personal schedule as part of his official vacation period, RM immediately underwent PCR testing, was found negative and entered into self-quarantine in his home as mandated by COVID-19 control procedures.
“However, he underwent PCR testing [Saturday] before his scheduled release from quarantine and was found to be positive for COVID-19.
“Jin returned to Korea on Monday, December 6 and underwent PCR testing immediately after his return and again before his release from self-quarantine, and was found negative on both occasions.
“However, feeling flu-like symptoms [Saturday] afternoon he underwent PCR testing and was found positive for COVID-19 late this evening.”
The company noted neither RM nor Jin had “had any contact” with the rest of the group after their return to Korea.
“We’ve heard a fire alarm and we see smoke,” Polland said.
“What we have to do now is go into the building — that takes us two or three weeks — open the door and find a small fire that will be contained by boosters or is this a raging, about to be out of control, fire? It could be either and anything in between those possibilities at this point.”
In the meantime, Poland said everyone already has the “secret” to protect themselves.
“I will tell you the secret to protecting yourself from omicron. And it’s really pretty easy,” he explained.
“It’s the advice we have consistently given here at Mayo Clinic and true at any medical center. Wear a mask when you’re indoors, be immunized and be boosted.”
The Omicron variant caused 95.4% of new Covid-19 cases in the United States last week – significantly higher than the previous week, according to estimates posted today (Jan. 4) by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“Omicron is truly everywhere,” Dr. Megan Ranney, a professor of emergency medicine at Brown University’s School of Public Health, told CNN on Friday night.
“What I am so worried about over the next month or so is that our economy is going to shut down, not because of policies from the federal government or from the state governments, but rather because so many of us are ill.”