It’s now just over a month since the first Omicron variant of Covid-19 was discovered in South Africa. The first death attributed to this new variant was just reported in Great Britain.
Stop and think about that for a moment. As of December 10th, six days ago, 21 countries in the European Union had reported cases of this new Covid-19 variant. The United States has reported Omicron cases in 25 states. Yesterday, Great Britain reported the first death related to Omicron. One death despite nearly three thousand cases have been identified worldwide, and there are undoubtedly many others yet to be identified. The map below tracks the countries where Omicron cases have been identified.
We can’t even be sure that one death was directly caused by the virus. The British newspapers only report this person died with Omicron, not because of Omicron. It is entirely possible Omicron was not the real cause of death. We know this is certainly true of many cases attributed to Covid-19 in this country that were actually caused by other organ failures such as heart attacks. But because the hospitals are required to report all Covid-19 cases, and because they receive additional compensation from insurers for Covid treatments, statistics on Covid-caused deaths are unreliable.
I am certainly not suggesting that this one death in Great Britain will be the only one reported for Omicron, nor that this one death is insignificant to the family of the deceased. But this certainly is no reason for fear-mongering about this new Covid variant.
From the beginning, South African medical authorities reported only mild cases associated with the Omicron variant. Even though South Africa is the epicenter of this variant, they have yet to report any Omicron-related deaths. Nevertheless, politicians are not wasting this opportunity to once-again exert their authority over the lives of their constituents.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Great Britain was quick to sound the alarm with this one reported death. Speaking at a London vaccination clinic, Johnson said: “Omicron is producing hospitalizations and sadly at least one patient has now been confirmed to have died with Omicron. I think the idea that this is somehow a milder version of the virus, I think that’s something we need to set on one side and just recognize the sheer pace at which it accelerates through the population.”
U.K. Health Secretary Sajid Javid said the number of Omicron infections “is doubling every two to three days,” and warned, “we’re in a new race, whether we like it or not, between the virus and the vaccine.” In London, the variant already accounts for 40 percent of coronavirus cases, and will soon become the dominant strain of COVID-19, Johnson added.
Again, stop and think about what Johnson and Javid said. They report cases “doubling every two to three days” with 40 percent of these cases attributed to Omicron. Yet they’ve only seen one death thus far. That certainly confirms two things: Omicron is highly contagious and will spread quickly; Omicron is mild and rarely fatal.
Dr. Marty Makary of Johns Hopkins University says, “T-Cell immunity is strong and effective against Omicron. This is the most significant (and overlooked) scientific paper of the entire Omicron saga. The fixation on antibody levels has diverted attention away from comprehensive immunity, including cellular.”
He is referring to a study published in bioRXiv that reports: “The newly identified Omicron variant of concern contains more mutations than any of the previous variants described to date. In addition, many of the mutations associated with the Omicron variant are found in areas that are likely bound by neutralizing antibodies, suggesting that the first line of immunological defense against COVID-19 may be compromised. However, both natural infection and vaccination develop T-cell based responses, in addition to antibodies. This study examined if the parts of the virus, or epitopes, targeted by the CD8+ T-cell response in thirty individuals who recovered from COVID-19 in 2020 were mutated in the Omicron variant. Only one of 52 epitopes identified in this population contained an amino acid that was mutated in Omicron. These data suggest that the T-cell immune response in previously infected, and most likely vaccinated individuals, should still be effective against Omicron.”
The panic over Omicron is not founded in science. It is the product of fearful minds and politicians eager to use their authority to control our lives. The usual precautions for Covid are warranted: get vaccinated or take appropriate risk-mitigating precautions. But stop panicking over Omicron – or any other variant. We’re approaching an endemic situation where we all need to learn to live with this virus – and get on with our lives. (see Covid Becoming Endemic)