“Better safe than sorry” is a maxim best accompanied by an asterisk — reminding us to keep “safe” within reason. (Except, of course, when it is your mom who recites the old adage, in which case it is absolute.) That asterisk has been overlooked often enough during Colorado’s continued bout with the global pandemic.

With the arrival of the latest COVID-19 variant to borrow from the Greek alphabet, omicron, there seems to be all the more reason to keep safety and risk in balance even as continued caution is advisable. The word from the global medical community, so far, is that omicron may not be as ominous as its name implies.

As reported by national media, mounting data suggest omicron is less likely than the delta variant to have a serious impact on those infected and is less likely to result in hospitalization. Maybe a lot less likely.

Late last week, BBC News cited a major analysis that found, “People catching Omicron are 50% to 70% less likely to need hospital care compared with previous variants. …”

BBC reported the analysis was based on all cases of omicron and delta in the United Kingdom since the beginning of November. The news service also noted the findings follow other data from South Africa, Denmark, England and Scotland that all pointed to reduced severity.

Meanwhile, CNN reported on a couple of other studies that “add to the growing evidence that the Omicron coronavirus variant may be less likely to cause severe disease and hospitalization compared to the Delta variant.”

The news network said one study showed omicron “is associated with a two-thirds reduction in the risk of COVID-19 hospitalization compared with Delta ...” and that another study “suggests that people with Omicron infections have had 80% lower odds of being admitted to the hospital compared with Delta infections.”

It’s encouraging news in terms of the pandemic’s overall outlook. It also gives policymakers around the world — and in Colorado — a nudge to temper their response to each successive wave of the virus.

Give Colorado Gov. Jared Polis credit in that regard. Polis — whose administration arguably overreached in its response (along with most of the world) last year — has shown a distinct sense of perspective about COVID in recent months and has kept a steady hand on the tiller. He has resisted calls to overreact with statewide mandates. He has instead, wisely, pointed to the availability of the vaccine and booster as the best response.

Which, of course, puts Polis on the same page with former President Donald Trump. Trump said last week he got a COVID booster shot, and he told political commentator Candace Owens in an interview, “The ones who get very sick and go to the hospital are the ones that don’t take the vaccine. But it’s still their choice. And if you take the vaccine, you’re protected. … People aren’t dying when they take the vaccine.”

Of course, it was Trump whose Operation Warp Speed dramatically accelerated the development of the first round of COVID vaccines, as Polis also has acknowledged.

It’s refreshing to see some political unity behind a sensible approach to COVID.

THE GAZETTE EDITORIAL BOARD

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