Our political class, Andrew Nikiforuk writes, have learned nothing from COVID:
Three weeks ago Omicron, a variant more transmissible than TikTok, started another global conflagration. And thanks in part to the connectivity of global elites who insist upon uninterrupted long-range travel, the variant has now started roaring fires in more than 90 nations.
Once again authorities responded with sloth, resignation or deadly indifference. How déjà vu of them.
Instead of acting quickly, our political classes collapsed into self-pity or pulled out a morgue full of excuses.
Individuals elected to lead complained the pandemic is so unpredictable. (Sorry, the evolution of variants is highly predictable as The Tyee has repeatedly explained.)
Put bluntly, our response has been too slow:
Pandemic expert and physicist Yaneer Bar-Yam, whose track record on COVID has been depressingly accurate, offered a blunt assessment this week on Twitter.
“Omicron is spreading very rapidly. The responses of many countries are insufficient. Please protect yourself and your families. In the next few weeks shelter in place, and be prepared for the shock that will occur as cases rise.”
“We don’t know the full extent of the shock and must prepare for difficult times,” he wrote. “There are risks of supply chain disruption. We cannot predict their extent due to the underlying complexity.”
In the next six to eight weeks expect a large proportion of the doubly vaccinated to get infected. Many will become deathly sick or develop long COVID.
Omicron, the most highly mutated variant to yet emerge, can evade both natural and vaccine immunity. As a consequence this wave could put the world back to square one in this pandemic.
And don’t think for a moment that Omicron is the worst the pandemic can still throw at us.
In his informative Forbes articles, U.S. virus expert William Haseltine soberly notes that coronaviruses have been around for million of years and can infect various animals. The next variant might well come from an infected population of mink or deer.
Moreover COVID, the seventh coronavirus to plague humans, “is capable of far more changes and far more variation than most ever thought possible and it will keep coming back to haunt us again and again.”
Hasletine adds that a variant more transmissible and deadly than Omicron is entirely possible given the dismal global response to the pandemic so far.
Yesterday, I wrote that the economic response to COVID has been pretty good. But the public health response has been dismal.
Image: The Weather Channel