Different Takes: How Many Boosters Will We Need?; What We Know About Omicron
Opinion writers examine these covid issues.
Will Boris Johnson's Omicron Booster Race Be Enough To Stave Off The Surge?
“No one should be in any doubt: There is a tidal wave of omicron coming, and I’m afraid it is now clear that two doses of vaccine are simply not enough,” Boris Johnson said in a statement Sunday night. The Prime Minister’s warning tallies with modeling by researchers at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine predicts between around 25,000 and 75,000 deaths from the new variant this winter in Britain. On Sunday, Johnson announced a plan to super-charge the country’s booster program so that everyone over 18 will be offered a third shot before the end of the year. (Therese Raphael and Sam Fazeli, 12/13)
The New York Times:
A Scientist's Guide To Understanding Omicron
Over the coming days and weeks, scientists from around the world will be sharing early information about the new Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2. We are two researchers who study the evolution of viruses, and we will be keeping a close eye on the data as it becomes public. This new research will range from laboratory studies investigating how the virus interacts with antibodies to observations of patient outcomes to large-scale data on infections and hospitalizations. The data will try to answer three key questions, all of which are important to understanding the risk of Omicron. (Jesse Bloom and Sarah Cobey, 12/12)
The Star Tribune:
Minnesotan Boosts Omicron Trackers
Minnesota's disease detectives are among the world's best. But the recent rapid detection of the COVID-19 omicron variant in the state illustrates the public's crucial contributing role in confirming pathogens' arrival and spread. Peter McGinn, 30, of Minneapolis, became one of the first people known to be infected with omicron in the United States. McGinn, who was vaccinated, has thankfully only had a "super mild" infection, he said in an interview this week, and was only briefly "out of commission." (12/10)
Dallas Morning News:
In Refusing The COVID Vaccine, Some Americans Conflate Freedom With Licentiousness
Coronavirus and our response as a society have once again revealed an America not as completely at ease with science as we would care to admit. What a paradox. The only nation to send men to the moon and to build destructive weapons unparalleled in history finds itself torn over using accumulated knowledge to fight a microscopic virus it can neither kill nor contain. (John McCaa, 12/12)
Kansas City Star:
Blue Valley, Olathe Schools Relaxed COVID Mask Mandates Now?
COVID-19 cases are going up and masks are coming down in Kansas City. Ending school mask mandates right now makes zero sense unless officials are making political rather than public health decisions — which they are. Olathe and Blue Valley districts foolishly removed mask mandates in secondary schools right after Thanksgiving family gatherings. As could’ve easily been predicted, the Kansas City Health Department reports a 90% spike in cases, from 714 to 1,357 in the week after the holiday. Those Olathe and Blue Valley mandates also expired at a time when the positivity rate in Johnson County has soared to 11.4%. Not surprisingly, Olathe schools saw a record 184 new cases, while Blue Valley recorded 108. (12/10)
Where I Live, No One Cares About COVID
I am old enough to remember the good old days when holiday-advice pieces were all variations on “How to Talk to Your Tea Party Uncle About Obamacare.” As Christmas approaches, we can look forward to more of this sort of thing, with the meta-ethical speculation advanced to an impossibly baroque stage of development. Is it okay for our 2-year-old son to hug Grandma at a Christmas party if she received her booster only a few days ago? Should the toddler wear a mask except when he is slopping mashed potatoes all over his booster seat? Our oldest finally attended her first (masked) sleepover with other fully vaccinated 10-year-olds, but one of them had a sibling test positive at day care. Should she stay home or wear a face shield? What about Omicron? (Matthew Walther, 12/13)