Don’t make workers return before April: Dr. Vin Gupta

As January approaches, many workers will return to the office, not all at once and maybe not five days a week, but the return to work will begin in earnest for many. U.S. workforce by 2022. Are employers rushing, especially as Covid’s omicron variant poses a new risk during winter flu peak season?

There are perhaps more reasons to keep home workers away from the office, according to Dr. Vin Gupta, critical care pathologist and associate faculty member at the University of Washington School of Medicine. especially until April or May, rather than bringing them back soon.

Speaking last week to members of CNBC Workforce Executive Council In a virtual town hall, Gupta said that for companies with a largely work-from-home workforce, “I see no reason, no scientific reason, certainly no psychological reason.” , to get your workforce back by April 1, at the earliest, into the workplace.”

“Before April 1st didn’t mean much to me,” he said.

A sign instructs staff to return to work as COVID-19 testing at the World Bank in Washington, October 19, 2021.

Jonathan Ernst | Reuters

Part of Gupta’s views were based on his experience as a kinesiologist. The delta variant is still causing many deaths in the US, mostly among the unvaccinated, and the omicron variant is predicted to become an important factor by 2022. And those Covid trends. going on during a period of uncertainty regarding flu season and all other respiratory illnesses viruses survive in winter taking advantage of cold, dry air. Although the United States has experienced an increase in lowland elevation in the summer, that is no reason to ignore the seasonal impact, but rather, remember that winter can be “absolutely bad.” more,” he said.

Based on data coming in from South Africa and elsewhere that are conducting early testing and sequencing of omicrons, it is clear that there is a straight line in terms of cases detected over time, Gupta told the human resources director. of the CNBC panel. The variant profile of this virus is different from delta, which has a strong but slightly slower increase. “I think it’s a matter of time before the omicron becomes the dominant variant, because it outperforms the delta in the places where we think it first came from,” Gupta said, adding know more that it will become the dominant variant in the coming weeks and months.

The UK confirms first death from omicron . variant in Monday.

The US health system, which has suffered from many delta cases, will be further strained and the headlines “won’t go well” over the next few months.

“Even if it were less lethal, it would still infect more people, and those who are unvaccinated, frankly, defenseless, they will be hospitalized at a higher rate, ‘ said Gupta.

Many companies are delaying plans to return to the office, though not just because of omicrons. Apple pushes back its comeback until February before news of omicron came out. Since the new variant appeared, Google pushed back a scheduled return date of January 10.

“If people are looking for a clear deadline here, I would start planning to return to the office in Q2,” Gupta, a multi-consortium advisor on health policy, told members. by CNBC WEC.

The psychological reason to delay planning to return to the office is also stronger, if not stronger, than the virological reason, the pulmonary medicine expert said.

“Psychologically, we’re not going to be in a place where we feel particularly safe, especially with headlines continuing to dominate above the omicron. And I don’t think that’s going to ease until day 1. April,” Gupta said. “April 1 for me is hopefully going to be a turning point for sentiment. We’re past cold and flu season, we’re past the worst of delta and omicron,” he said.

Part of his thinking on the target date of April 1 is that by then there will be significantly more Covid-enhanced photos, as well as first shots in the wider population, likely to be absorbed. will absorb more. And there may be more cities following New York City’s lead and making vaccinations mandatory.

“I think we will make more progress,” Gupta said.

Gupta said there is a way to proceed more safely now, in an interview with CNBC’s “Close Bell” last Tuesday, if companies create a “vaccine bubble” – asking all Staff in the office must have three doses of the Covid vaccine, including a booster shot.

“Many companies that make vaccine bubbles have worked well and that was three shots,” Gupta said.

ONE New research from the University of Oxford indicates that people who receive two doses of vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech or Astra Zeneca can still get omicrons. Leading US infectious disease expert Dr Anthony Fauci said on Sunday in a TV interview on ABC that three doses including booster as “optimal care,” but the US government will not change their definition of “fully vaccinated.”

With Covid mortality still forecast as high as 10,000 per week in the US and as of Friday, 25 US states have detected omicron, a likely scenario is that deaths linger around that level for at least a few months, and that’s one of the reasons why companies that aren’t creating a vaccine bubble should tell employees that they don’t have to come back until April or May, Gupta said.

Did you miss this year’s CNBC Workplace Summit? Access full sessions on demand at Don’t make workers return before April: Dr. Vin Gupta

Ryan Perry

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