Priest says Omicron “the beginning of the end of the pandemic”


But public has to remain careful, he warns

Teodoro ‘Ted’ Alcuitas

The Omicron variant of COVID-19 may be “the beginning of the end” of the pandemic, but the public must remain cautious, a Dominican priest and microbiologist predicts.

Citing a study, Fr. Nicanor Austriaco, a professor of biology at Providence College in Providence, Rhode Island, said the Omicron variant is a “natural vaccine.”

Austriaco made the prediction at the GoNegosyo Town Hall Meeting in Manila yesterday ( January 5), reports

The OCTA Research fellow says those infected with the Omicron variant who survive will get antibodies that will protect them “not only against Omicron but against Delta, Gamma, Beta, Alpha and D614G” variants.

“So as the virus rapidly increases, it’s going to try to spread to everyone and it’s going to try to find as many of our kababayans vulnerable. It is spreading so rapidly, what you will expect is it will run out the food sooner,” Austriaco said.

“And when it runs out of food, it will begin to crash — which is why you see in South Africa, the numbers are crashing. In London, the numbers are beginning to fall only because, once it spreads like wildfire, and when all the trees are burned, there’s nowhere for it to go. So it begins to crash,” he added.

Due to this, Austriaco said the Omicron variant “is the beginning of the end of the pandemic.”

“We have to realize that Omicron is the beginning of the end of the pandemic because Omicron is going to provide the kind of population immunity that should stabilize our societies and should allow us to reopen,” he said.

“This is the hope and the prayer. The Omicron is actually a blessing. It will be hard for one month, but afterwards, it should be a blessing because it should provide the population protection that we need everywhere,” he added.

Nonetheless, Austriaco still reminded the public to be cautious, particularly those still unvaccinated against COVID-19.

“It’s milder, but if you’re unvaccinated, it’s still harder for you,” he said.

The variant will continue to bring high COVID-19 cases, but the public “should not be scared of these numbers,” he went on.

“We should expect that most of these cases will be mild. We should expect fewer hospitalizations and deaths,” Austriaco said.

Who is Fr. Nicanor Austriaco?

Fr. Nicanor Austriaco, Jr.  OP is a Filipino-American molecular biologist and Catholic priest. He is a professor of biology and professor of theology at Providence College, in Providence, Rhode Island,[1] and a research fellow at the Center for Theology, Religious Studies, and Ethics, at the University of Santo Tomas in the Philippines.

Born in the Philippines, he earned his Ph.D. degree in Biology from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. After completing his doctoral studies, he was a fellow of the International Human Frontier Science Program at the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research at the University College London.

In 1997 he entered the novitiate of the Order of Friars Preachers and completed both his pontifical bachelor’s degree in sacred theology and his master’s of divinity degree at the Pontifical Faculty of the Immaculate Conception at the Dominican House of Studies in Washington, D.C., in 2003. He was ordained to the priesthood on May 21, 2004. In 2005, he earned his pontifical license in sacred theology summa cum laude. He completed a pontifical doctorate degree in sacred theology from the University of Fribourg in Switzerland.

He is also an investigator for the Rhode Island-IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence Program funded by the National Institutes of Health, a scientific advisor at the National Catholic Bioethics Center, and an ethics consultant for St. Joseph Health Services of Rhode Island.

Fr. Austriaco has intellectual interests both in molecular and cellular genetics and in moral theology. His laboratory at Providence College is investigating the genetics of programmed cell death using yeasts as model organisms. Papers describing his research have been published in a number of scientific journals and he has had a number of essays in bioethics published as well. Fr. Austriaco’s first book is  Biomedicine and Beatitude: An Introduction to Catholic Bioethics.

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