Think back to the moment you first heard about the new omicron variant, probably Thanksgiving night or Black Friday.
What was the first thing you wanted to know?
If you are anything like me, the first thing you wanted to know is: Will this be worse than what we’ve seen so far?
Buried in the breathless news stories I found the line: “symptoms were reported to be very mild.”
And, as of this writing on Thursday morning, you can still find that line buried in the still breathless coverage.
Regular readers will know that I am no anti-vaxxer or COVID minimizer. I have taken the virus seriously, and I now have gotten two shots and the booster.
This time, though, it seems the politicians and media have gone out of their minds.
“It’s here!” scream the headlines.
The new variant, we are told, can evade the vaccine and may be more contagious than delta.
My former classmate at Syracuse University, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, declared an official state of emergency as soon as news came out of South Africa.
President Joe Biden announced stricter measures and travel bans. Dr. Anthony Fauci did what he does.
The public, though, as near as I can tell, has tuned them all out.
I think it’s because most people can read, and they see “mild symptoms” and they have no interest in shutting down the country over that.
No one wants to get sick, but “fatigue, muscle aches, dry cough, and in some cases slight fever” is no reason to shut down a country.
It is inexplicable and inexcusable that our CDC does not track data on how many people get COVID more than once. In other words, what are the effects of natural immunity compared to immunity via vaccine?
Studies out of Israel have indicated that natural immunity is more protective than vaccines.
If indeed that is true, wouldn’t a highly infectious yet mild variant actually be a good thing? Wouldn’t it lead to herd immunity and end the pandemic, leaving the virus nowhere to go?
I sympathized with Dr. Angelique Coetzee, the South African doctor who helped discover omicron. The country’s researchers shared their findings, and for their trouble, other countries are shutting down travel to South Africa.
Coetzee said the variant could develop into something more serious but, so far, the worldwide panic is way out of proportion to the threat.
The national media outlets do tend to cry wolf. That’s one of the reasons I think many people didn’t take COVID all that seriously in early 2020 until it became obvious that, this time, there really was a terrible threat.
There has been breathless coverage of every variant so far, and only delta proved worse than the original virus.
If I read about the omicron variant evading vaccination, spreading everywhere — and killing people — then I will worry.
In the meantime, we have a holiday season to enjoy.
William P. Warford’s column appears every Friday and Sunday.