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Capitalism Must Not Dictate Our Response to Omicron Variant


In the face of the virus’s new iteration, we must prioritize saving lives.
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 seems like they tried to name this thing after one of the Decepticons. It is also the name of the planet where Dr. Noonian Soong created the androids Data and Lore, in case any of you Star Trek TNG fans were wondering where you’d heard it before. But enough frivolity. This is deadly serious: Top COVID expert Anthony Fauci warns that the Omicron variant could fuel an impending fifth wave of the 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 has been found in South Africa, Botswana, Australia, Hong Kong, Israel, Portugal, Italy, Belgium, Germany, Britain, Scotland and Canada. 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,” according to a Friday WHO report. 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 laboring to determine if the current slate of vaccines and boosters will still be effective against the new variant.

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