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The Beginning of the End?
The virus part of the pandemic will probably soon be over.
Early reports that Omicron is substantially milder than other SARS-2 strains are every day confirmed by new data. A month into the unprecedented South African case spike, driven entirely by Omicron, Corona deaths remain low. It’s earlier days in the United Kingdom, where Omicron is only just over half of cases. So far, though, it is the same story there:
In the coming months, Omicron will outcompete all other lineages everywhere in the world. At that point, Corona will have completed its transformation into a mild coronavirus that nobody should care about, in the same way that nobody cares about other common human-infecting coronaviruses like hCoV-OC43. Unforeseen developments are always possible; Omicron might in time acquire greater pathogenicity. Particularly if we insist on vaccinating widely, we might drive its evolution in new and potentially dangerous directions. Those are, however, mere possibilities. Right now, everything tells us that the virus part of the pandemic will soon be over.
The major question, is how the rest of the Corona Circus will respond. Some thoughts on that:
In the short term, rising cases will probably fuel demand for more vaccinations. This is the blunt, stupid way that our public health experts respond to infections now, but it is not a game that will go well for the vaccinators. The vaccines will fail even more profoundly in stopping Omicron transmission, and there will be far fewer severe outcomes for them to prevent. I don’t know how long the crackpot vaccination regime can survive overt absurdities like this.
Omicron will probably also unwind the broader containment regime. South Africa has already abandoned their most intrusive tracing, quarantine and isolation policies, declaring a shift towards mitigation (which is what they should have done in the first place). Trying to defeat a minimally symptomatic highly contagious virus with the comically inadequate tools of the contact tracer is simply too ridiculous.
In the longer term, things look much more uncertain. It is hard to shake the feeling that Corona has swept away the last vestiges of liberal democracy in Europe, and perhaps in the whole world. I don’t think these political systems have been very good for the West, but our new theocratic regimes steered by the Corona astrologers have been vastly worse. As soon as the hysteria boils off, many of these villains will begin trying to get the panic machine up and running again. The alternative is a future where nobody much cares what they have to think, where they’re no longer able to interfere in millions of lives, and – perhaps most crucially – where a lot of politicians, journalists, and ordinary people begin to realise what utter failures they and their policies have been. There are failures that lose you your job, there are failures that make you a public disgrace, and then there are their failures, the kind that lead to arrest, indictment, imprisonment, and worse.