If you did yourself a weary solid and set the news aside for the long holiday weekend, like as not you’ve spent a portion of today doomscrolling through reports on the newest COVID-19 variant to rear its ugly head.
Omicron. The World Health Organization (WHO) just had to pick the scariest sounding name, didn’t they. It looks like they tried to name it after one of the Decepticons. It is also the name for the planet on which Dr. NoonianSoong created the androids Data and Lore. Star Trek TNG fans were wondering where you’d heard it before.
But enough frivolity. This is a serious matter: Anthony Fauci, a top COVID expert, warns that Omicron variants could fuel an increase in crime. impending fifth waveThe virus. We’re all veterans of this virus now, and we’re all exhausted, but unless our luck and our policies change, we are potentially facing an even gloomier winter than some of us predicted before Omicron reared its head.
What we know, which isn’t much at this point: Omicron, first discovered by South African scientists, carries what some researchers called a “horrific” number of variations from the original COVID, was labeled a “variant of concern” by the WHO on Friday. It was found in South Africa and Botswana, Australia as well as Hong Kong, Israel, Portugal (Italy), Belgium, Germany, Britain and Scotland.
What we don’t know: The large number of mutations in Omicron could make it more easily transmissible than previous iterations, and because of those mutations, “there could be future surges of Covid-19, which could have severe consequences,” accordingAccording to a WHO report on Friday. Some reports suggest the symptoms of Omicron are milder than some other variants’ symptoms, but the sample data for this hypothesis came from a younger-than-usual group of infected people and could be skewed.
Scientists are racing to determine if Omicron’s mutations can enable it to evade immunity protections present in those who have previously been infected. They are also trying to determine if current vaccines and boosters will still work against the new variant. Moderna and Pfizer will have the answers in the next week. However, Moderna and Pfizer have started a crash program in order to reformulate their vaccines specifically for Omicron.
Is Omicron still present in the U.S. Although no cases have been reported yet, the fact that Omicron has already been found in Canada strongly suggests that the variant is present. “We have not detected it yet,” Fauci told Weekend TODAY, “but when you have a virus that is showing this degree of transmissibility and you’re already having travel-related cases that they’ve noted in Israel and Belgium and other places, when you have a virus like this, it almost invariably is ultimately going to go essentially all over.”
Omicron’s rapid response by governments to its appearance speaks volumes about the potential dangers of this variant and the extent to which the world is unable to defeat it. This rapidity is due to the fact that many countries around the globe, including the U.S. are already experiencing a surge in COVID cases. An immediate onslaught Omicron infection would be devastating.
Travel restrictions have been hastily put in place for whatever good they will do — “By the time we have enough information to institute a travel ban, the cat’s already out of the bag, so to speak,” warns University of Washington professor and researcher Nicole A. Errett — and the Biden administration has been at top voice saying now is an excellent time to get the shots if you haven’t already.
But not everyone agrees with the idea of unity and haste being the current watchwords. Republicans in many states are trying to financially reward people who quit or lose their jobs because they refuse to get vaccinated, and they wouldn’t be Republicans without yet another preposterous conspiracy theoryRonny Jackson is the current Texas GOP Representative and a former Trump White House doctor. calling Omicron the “Midterm Election variant,” alleging the mutation is actually a Democratic plot to upend the 2022 elections, “but we’re not going to let them!” They are nothing if not consistent, and are persistent to a double fault.
As we gaze once again into a maw of fear and uncertainty, I have one humble request for the powers-that-be: Let’s not listen to capitalism so much this time, yeah?
We’ve tried it their way for going on two years now, and all we have is close to a million people dead to show for it. Republicans are funded by the same corporations that push people into infected work places. They have no interest whatsoever in public health. Their goal is private wealth and wealth extraction at all costs.
There have been many scientifically sound strategies to stop this terrible thing from the beginning. They were ignored during the last year of Trump’s tenure, and remain well behind where they should be under Biden.
Those tactics are right in front of usHere and now: Testing regimens that include multiple tests over time, more extensive and widespread testing and tracking, and a reemphasis on vaccinations and masking. These measures should be accompanied by restrictions or lockdowns When they are necessaryNot when it is financially easy for the wealthy.
Science needs to drive the bus this time — science, and a genuinely effective push to vaccinate the entire world, cost be damned — and let the engine of greed idle for a while. Once we get past Omicron, there will still be billionaires. The question is whether or not we care enough about others. We should know better. Let’s find out if we do.