Headline RoundupDecember 15th, 2021

Perspectives: How Concerning is the Omicron Variant?

Summary from AllSides News Team

The Omicron variant is reportedly set to become the dominant COVID-19 strain in the U.S. by early 2022. How worried should we be?

Concrete details about Omicron are just starting to emerge. A major study of cases in South Africa, where the Omicron variant was first detected, shows that the strain is potentially more resistant to vaccines than other versions, but is also less severe and less likely to result in hospitalization. This week, Cornell University in upstate New York closed its campus and moved finals online this week amid a surge in COVID-19 cases and concerns about the variant. Infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci said Wednesday that booster shots of current vaccines work against Omicron and that "there is no need for a variant-specific booster" right now. As of this writing, there has been one death attributed to the Omicron variant; the European Union's health agency said Wednesday that it expects Omicron to accelerate the continent's COVID-19 death toll.

Right-rated voices often frame Omicron-induced restrictions as premature and based on a lack of evidence, and criticize Democrats for purportedly exaggerating concerns about the new variant. Left-rated voices often highlight experts who focus on the risks and potential consequences of not taking enough action to combat Omicron's spread. Some across the spectrum took issue with "kneejerk policy reactions" to the variant; others analyzed how holiday travel will likely continue in spite of concerns about Omicron, and advocated for smart travel restrictions and COVID-19 testing protocols.

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