Sunday, November 28, 2021

Omicron thoughts

  1. New variants are a normal part of there being a virus. You can minimize the number of new variants by reducing the number of people with active infections (in this case that would mean vaccinating more people and quickly isolating the ones who get infected), but they are going to happen as long as the virus is out in the wild.
  2. Although variants could be worse, they could be better too. Or something in between. Just because you hear "variant" is no reason to freak out.
  3. This travel ban is stupid. We don't know if Omicron can from South Africa, that's just where it was first detected. It has now been detected a lot of other places too. Travel bans barely ever work, and they definitely can't work if the virus is already out of the banned area. This is just punishing South Africa for doing the right thing, identifying a new variant and telling the world about it.
  4. The travel ban is also understandable. As stupid as it is, US and EU leaders need to show that they are taking decisive action when the world freaks out about something like this. Ideally, that would mean taking non-stupid actions (and frankly I wish our leaders had more courage to do that more often), but the sad reality is that smart moves are rarely rewarded politically in the short term.
  5. There is something ghoulish about the rich countries of the world hoarding vaccines and then punishing the less vaccinated poorer countries with travel bans when variants pop up as a direct result of there being less vaccinated people.
  6. There is zero reason to believe that Omicron is any more dangerous to vaccinated people than Delta is. It could be less dangerous. It is just too early to tell. (Although it is true that as the disease evolves further away from the strain that was used to develop the vaccine, the vaccines will probably get less effective. But that's why the pharm industry should concentrate on strain-specific boosters. No, I have no idea how hard that is. Leave me alone)
  7. The general pattern for diseases is for it to get more contagious but less deadly over time. That's where the evolutionary pressures point them. It is in the virus' interest to be spread as widely as possible. Killing the host or even putting him/her in a hospital isolation ward does not help it spread. The ideal mutation from the virus' evolutionary interests' point of view is for it to be extremely contagious with no negative symptoms at all. Then people will go on with their lives, spreading the virus far and wide and never resting home in bed, or going to an isolation unit, or dying, all of which will slow or stop the spread. To the extent it is helpful to think of the virus "wanting" to do anything, it doesn't want to hurt us. It wants to find a way to coexist with us. It may never find a way to do that, but that really is what the variant-making process is about.
  8. How stupid do you have to be to believe that the entire world is making up a variant to manipulate the mid-term U.S. elections? Just when you think Fox and Friends couldn't get any dumber...
  9. If you're going to give variants Greek letters, you shouldn't be skipping letters. I get that the "nu variant" and "xi variant" each have their own complications, but maybe you should have thought about that before using the Greek alphabet. There are plenty of other alphabets in the sea. And no one gave a shit if Delta Airlines was unfairly maligned by the last big variant.