COVID Counterpunch

Waning Severity Forces Easing of COVID Restrictions — But Will They Return With Future Variants?

The recent trend of countries lifting their COVID lockdown protocols is a welcome change from the economically, socially, and emotionally devastating policies that have defined most of the pandemic thus far. But there is reason to be skeptical, about the general mindset that COVID is winding down, about the specific policy repositioning that occurs as new strains of COVID come and go, and about the integrity of the leaders whose policies shift as suddenly as the scientific winds.

Omicron likely isn’t the end of COVID.

While countries are starting to accept that nothing they do seems to make a difference against COVID, and are ending lockdown, mask, and vaccine mandate protocols as a result, there is a general sense that the “less lethal” Omicron is either the last variant we will see, or that future variants will be even less severe.

This misconception is as dangerous for government officials as it is citizens, because it ties the economic and social freedom of the individual to the severity of a given variant, rather than to actual principles of freedom.

Viruses don’t mutate to be more or less severe.

As The Conservative New Mexican’s Dr. Grauci pointed out Friday, “while Omicron contains ‘characteristics’ found in the Alpha, Beta, Gamma, and Delta variants, Omicron itself did not evolve from the Delta variant.”

Which means one of two things: “either Omicron itself was manufactured, perhaps as a less-lethal way to provide natural immunity to the global population (though at the cost of billions in Big Pharma profits), or other variants remain prevalent enough in the population to spawn new variants.”

Virus mutation is not linear or intentional. Despite the slightly misleading metaphor of Richard Dawkins’ famous book “The Selfish Gene” — which advanced the idea that genes evolve to the benefit of the gene, not the individual — viruses (nor genes) have intentionality. COVID’s Omicron variant did not evolve on purpose to be less severe.

Through an evolutionary lens, the “less severe” COVID variant that spreads to significantly more people is nonetheless succeeding in its goal that the unseen hand of Creation instilled in all life: to reproduce. But for the human victims, Omicron is causing more suffering than Delta did, and we have yet to see the full reach of Omicron — let alone the effects of possible future variants mutated from more severe strains (Delta 2.0).

“Hospitalizations have not yet seen the same explosive growth as cases, but this metric tends to lag case counts,” The New York Times reported, “and it may be too early to gauge Omicron’s full impact. What is clear is that the number of people hospitalized with Covid nationwide has already surpassed the peak of the Delta-led wave and is still rising steeply” (emphasis added).

There is a point at which the per capita mortality rate of a virus only matters if its total effect is less dangerous. With hospitalizations up and deaths nearly identical to Delta, that is not the case with Omicron, and there is no scientific reason to believe that future variants will be less dangerous, or that there won’t be any future variants at all.

Omicron spread like wildfire and was as deadly as Delta (in sheer numbers), even though it did not evolve from Delta, the dominant stain at the time. If Alpha, Beta, and Gamma were still prevalent enough to contribute to the mutation of Omicron when Delta was the dominant strain around the world, then Delta is just as or even more likely to mutate. And if Omicron is more prevalent than Delta, the odds that it spawns a mutation are also high.

It doesn’t mean Delta or Omicron will mutate–there are more factors than transmissibility when it comes to anticipating the odds of mutation–but it would be ignorant to believe they couldn’t, or that if they do they would mutate into less severe variants.

This matters for two reasons. One, obviously, is deaths. But the other is the economic and mental health impacts caused by the re-implementation of COVID lockdowns.

Politicians suffer from the unfortunate affliction of thinking that doing something is better than doing nothing, even if only for the sake of appearances. While Biden used the virus to justify vaccine mandates to appease Washington’s Big Pharma overlords, it was Trump who oversaw the 2020 economic shutdown that cost 25 million jobs.

That same inclination to “help,” even if it doesn’t, may be fueling the decision to ease lockdown and mask protocols in the short term. If politicians enforce lockdowns even as the virus wanes, the people will revolt, as we’ve seen. To maintain credibility, leaders must adjust public policy as the severity of the virus changes. But doing so also gives them political capital if (or when) more dangerous strains emerge in the future. If the timeless trend of “doing something” continues and a more severe variant emerges, they will need to have shown a willingness to change with the “science” if they hope to convince anyone that re-implementing their draconian restrictions is the right response, even if doing so didn’t help last time.

That’s not to say that the Omicron reset is a short-term concession as part of some larger corporate “plandemic,” or that the media is colluding with DC technocrats by pushing an Omicron reprieve in the face of growing public unrest. It’s only to say that the “experts” lose all credibility if they don’t adjust policy to align with “the science.” More importantly, citizens should no more tie their views on medical or social autonomy to a specific variant anymore than they should tie their principles to a specific politician.

Are we predicting that the recent easing of COVID restrictions in light of the “less severe” Omicron variant is politically motivated, or that the potential emergence of a more severe future variant would spur politicians to justify a return of the restrictive lockdown protocols they’re currently lifting, perhaps just in time for the 2022 midterm elections?

Yes.

And yes.

2 replies »

  1. I hate to say that Omicron already has a variate that can cause another infection. Omicron itself confers some immunity to other variants in vaccine-naive people, but vaccinated people may not be so lucky.

    Many are aware now that the theater of lockdowns and masking simply haven’t worked. They were never in the original pandemic playbook and hopefully will avoid the update.

    • Yep, Fox and Kaiser are reporting it this morning: “subvariant BA.2”

      It’s important to adjust policy and person behavior based on new evidence and changing conditions, but there is no indication that any of the policies have worked. People should have been left alone from the beginning. The world is full of risks. COVID has simply shown that the government is no better at mitigating them than your average American is.

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