Is our response to omicron over the top?

No, I am not an anti-vaxxer or into conspiracy theories, which you will know if you are a regular visitor to this site (and if you’re from abroad, I will forgive you if you are unfamiliar with how Portsmouth ticks and have often thought that I am surely nuts).

But I’m now slowly starting to wonder if people are going a little overboard, re COVID, the way one guy – one guy – who had wires coming out of his shoes on a flight from Paris, decades ago, is now still forcing all of us to take off our shoes before we fly.

I am seeing what looks like an over-the-top response to omicron in my incoming emails (news etc).

Earlier, there was this crazy panicked – not rational – response from the Dutch who hunted down and arrested a Portuguese biochemical researcher and her Spanish partner on board of an outbound flight – the way Portsmouth once hunted down the King family who were arrested in Spain – because she and her partner had tested negative before the flight, but she tested positive upon arrival and consistently negative since (four times).

They had arrived at Schiphol Airport from a holiday in Africa only to travel back to Spain, as far as I know. Having been on that flight, during which international travel rules changed, I can imagine that she may have breathed in contaminated air during that flight and that then resulting in the presence of virus particles in her nasal passages, but I am not an expert on such matters.

I get the feeling that too many people have been watching too many disaster films since the start of the pandemic in which people are hunted down and sometimes shot, even, because of some strain of the plague or some other scary disease that suddenly appeared, such as that film that features Anne Heche’s hair so prominently but does not necessarily bear a lot of resemblance to real life.

I am not professing that I am fully up-to-date on omicron. One needs more for that than my circumstances currently allow (such as unfettered internet access, which I currently don’t have).

But it’s not clear yet whether omicron causes serious disease yet, is it?

And haven’t I read somewhere that because of its POSSIBLY high transmissibility and its POSSIBLY low pathogenicity, it could well be the variant that has the capability of ending the pandemic? (4 December: I should have explained that: Because omicron might then be able to outcompete the other variants. That could push the other variants onto other hosts, but there’s been speculation that omicron may already have been the result of zoonosis followed by reverse zoonosis, so that does not have to be a bad thing.)

Initially, at the start of 2020, almost all governments were too slow to respond.

Are too many people now over-correcting for that?

Isn’t now the time to focus particularly on those who are medically vulnerable instead of on the masses? Isn’t now the time to ensure that everyone in the world has had two jabs and the medically vulnerable three instead of focusing on giving the happy few three?

I have heard VERY LITTLE (nothing) about sewage monitoring for a while. That could be a serious oversight. What if omicron is already omnipresent but simply not causing much disease and therefore having gone unnoticed, the way the first variant also was already among us without us being aware of it and still exclusively focusing on passengers on flights from China?

What happens in the next few days – during which more information about omicron will become available – will be interesting.

Because it’s NOT ONLY about transmissibility or rate of reinfection. We have to make sure once again that we don’t lose sight of the bigger picture.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-59468155

PS 22:41
I later got an e-mail about the second detected omicron case in the US (in Hennepin County in Minnesota), and it confirms what I wrote above. This variant was already spreading before we became aware of it. The guy in Minnesota may have picked the variant up at a conference in New York.

PPS 4 December
The following morning, I read that more cases had been found in the US, about half of them appearing to be the result of domestic transmission. That seems to confirm that that the Dutch response was not only a great demonstration of bad coordination between the various authorities but also definitely over the top. Seems to me that one of the main things going forward is to teach ourselves to treat other species with the respect they deserve and to tackle the healthcare disparities between segments of the population. Apart from addressing the fact that only a handful of Asian nations had plans ready on the shelf for how to react to a pandemic, of course. Not one country in the west did. Still, all in all, we are doing pretty well. Particularly the lightning-fast development of the vaccines has shown that where there is a (political) will, there is way.

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