Why Chris Hayes claims Omicron is 'one of the weirdest' moments of the pandemic

On All In With Chris Hayes Wednesday, the MSNBC host explained why he believes the COVID-19 Omicron variant's contagiousness is redefining what the parameters of the pandemic.

As the U.S. set a new record high for coronavirus infections this week, Chris Hayes cited Martin Hibberd, a professor of emerging infectious diseases at London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, who estimated that the R-naught of Omicron could be as high as 10 — meanining every person infected with Omicron infects another 10 people. In simpler terms, Omicron is way more contagious and transmissible than the original strain with an R-naught of 2.5, and the Delta variant with 7.

"To stop something that infectious, something with an R-naught of 10, you would need, essentially, 100 percent vaccination. It's like stamping out measles," explained Hayes. "You'd basically have everyone, to get to herd immunity. We don't have that. So short of instituting just extremely dramatic lockdowns, things like we had in March and April, where every business and school closes? This variant's going to spread like crazy and that's exactly what we're seeing. And, so, this moment is, in some ways, one of the weirdest of the pandemic. We're nearing the two-year mark, and all of a sudden dealing with a somewhat different beast in some ways." Hayes then pointed out how the CDC recently amended their isolation and quarantine to just five days, before comparing Omicron's rate of transmission to the flu.

"We haven't quite had an illness this infectious and this possible to cause serious illness," explained Hayes, adding that this "does look more like the flu. Flu, of course, can still be dangerous, kills tens of thousands of Americans every year, but we don't orient our lives around the flu. That's closer to the level of risk that 200 million Americans, or less than that, are now dealing with. And then when you add in the sheer exhaustion many people feel, and I don't have to tell you this I'm sure, because you're feeling this yourself, many of you. The lengths of this disruption in our lives, obviously the politics of the pandemic are just completely different than they were earlier in the pandemic."

All In With Chris Hayes airs weeknights at 8 p.m. on MSNBC.

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