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.
Featured Coverage of this Story
From the RightLiberal states, cities go overboard over omicron
Here’s what we know about the omicron variant — next to nothing.
But that hasn’t kept officials — in liberal states and cities, of course — from once again declaring Draconian measures to address the COVID-19 virus, including mask mandates for every resident and business and requirements to provide proof of vaccination.
On Monday, California officials announced a statewide universal indoor masking mandate to last until Jan. 15. The same day, Philadelphia announced that proof of COVID-19 vaccination will be required to dine indoors at bars, restaurants, indoor sporting events...
From the CenterOmicron is a case study in unknown risk
Unknown risks occur when no one expects them, in forms that no one could anticipate, and for which no one is prepared. Situations become crises under the influence of unknown risks, which in turn fosters panic rather than rational responses.
The omicron variant is establishing itself to be the next unknown risk in the COVID-19 pandemic.
Evidence of this are uniformly aggressive and unfettered reactions. These include travel bans from southern Africa that have become ubiquitous. Israel and Japan have closed their borders to foreign nationals and visitors.
Yet, we are still learning much about this variant, including how...
From the LeftOmicron is spreading 'every place at once,' experts say. What it could mean for holiday plans.
The omicron variant of the coronavirus is moving faster than surveillance systems can track it and has so unnerved some medical experts that they're starting to put the brakes on preparations for their holiday gatherings.
"Personally, I'm reevaluating plans for the holidays," Bronwyn MacInnis, director of pathogen genomic surveillance at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard University, said on a call with reporters Tuesday. "It's the responsible thing to do and what feels right given the risk."
She and a handful of other Massachusetts-based researchers on the call said they've been stunned by the...