Omicron Is Here in the U.S.
& BRIEFLY NOTED: For December 24, 2021
The Omicron Wave of COVID is here in the United States. But it is beginning to look as if it is not going to be a huge deal for you—if you are vexed and boosted, and if you are more than two degrees of separation from the unvaxxed and the immunocompromised.
If you are unvaxxed, or immunocompromised, or one or two degrees of separation from such? Hunker. Down. Now. And hope the Paxlovid factories are starting to produce:
But note, first of all, that back in April 2020 confirmed cases of COVID were 10% of true cases, while now we have effectively all cases—or all even middle serious (i.e., more than a usual cold) cases. We should not expect many deaths among the vaccinated and boosted from this wave at all.
What? You are asking about the unvaccinated. The answer to that question is still still not clear. Maybe the unvaccinated will suffer not the 1% mortality of the original variant, but only 0.25%:
Noah Smith: Christmas Omicron Update: ‘Omicron… will [soon] be a bit moot… [because] the new variant is spreading insanely fast…. Omicron is spreading “as fast as measles in a non-immune population”. And measles is the most contagious disease hitherto known. The question of whether we should “let ‘er rip” is a bit beside the point—by the time our authorities decide what to do, it will already have ripped…. Vaccine boosters offer substantial protection… reduces the risk of severe disease by about 80%…. Omicron waves shoot up and crash even more quickly than basic theory predicts…. Omicron probably is less severe than previous strains…. As Andrew Lilley notes in this excellent and careful thread, Omicron is also looking substantially less severe in N[ew ]S[outh ]W[ales]…. In the medium term there are two other reasons for hope—both based on the strength of human science…. A supervaccine that works against ALL strains of Covid—may now be in our hands…. Paxlovid, an antiviral… is startlingly effective…. As a coda, however, Covid’s economic impact will still reverberate… because China is sticking doggedly to a “zero Covid” policy that almost all other countries have abandoned in the face of hyper-contagious new variants… locking down whole cities…. Xi Jinping’s advisors are begging him to drop the “zero Covid” policy, but the supreme leader remains unmoved. This may vindicate my theory that Xi is not as competent an administrator as many believe, but it means continued economic headaches for both China and the world at large…
But maybe the unvaccinated will suffer 2% mortality. At the moment, I do not claim to know—and I do not think anyone else knows either:
Yaneer Bar-Yam: ’UK data: Omicron is as severe as Delta for cases that would be infected by Delta, and infects people who would not be infected by Delta (due to immunity of prior infection or vaccination). Those cases are less severe. By Simpsons paradox Omicron seems less severe, but is more. Also the medical definition of “mild” continues to mean “not hospitalized”. Both so-called mild cases and long covid that can follow can be devastating and life changing. A just released study shows that the virus remains active in many organs of the body including many places in the brain for months after infection. The “acute” phase of the infection is only the beginning…
So get boosted, and if you come into contact with the unvaxxed or the immunocompromised—or are only two degrees of separation from the unvaxxed or the immunocompromised—the next two weeks are the time when you should hunker down for real. It might really, really matter.
SciShow: Why Can’t We Make New Stradivari Violins? <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zOtQQRf0Fzc>:
I used to think that Trump reversing course would be applauded by all of his fanbois as clever, clever eleven-dimensional chess—“dishing the whigs”, as it were. But apparently there are any who either are plus royaliste que le roi or who are grifters pandering to a plus royaliste que le roi audience:
Very Briefly Noted:
Wikipedia: Kingdom of the Lombards <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kingdom_of_the_Lombards>
Ian Millhiser: The Supreme Court showdown over Biden’s Covid–19 vaccine policies is happening now: ’Biden’s vaccination policies could save thousands of lives. The Supreme Court could toss them out anyway… <https://www.vox.com/2021/12/22/22848155/supreme-court-vaccine-mandate-osha-cms-covid-joe-biden>
Dennis C. Rasmussen: Fears of a Setting Sun<https://press.princeton.edu/books/hardcover/9780691210230/fears-of-a-setting-sun>
Matt: ’The cons keep making the argument that California is on the brink of collapse when it’s actual problem is that the demand to live in California far outstrips the supply of homes in the state…
Caitlin Flanagan @CaitlinPacificI’m not sure who benefits from the collapse of California. It has to be intentional because it’s so thoroughgoing and happening so quickly. But I can’t figure out the true engine and the reward.
Scary Lawyerguy: ’If President Hillary Clinton was on tape asking the GA Secretary of State to “find” 12,000 votes so she could be declared the winner of his state, the DOJ would have already indicted her (and rightly so). Trump actually DID THIS and is under no threat of prosecution…
John Robb: ’Doggerland was completely flooded by rising sea levels around 6500–6200 BCE. About the same time as Doggerland began to submerge (16k BC), New England was under 2,000 feet of ice (the Laurentide ICE sheet). It completely melted by 10k BC <https://t.co/tNqcJbopGt>…
Nilay Patel: ’Every “interactive TV” experiment ends up like this: sometimes fun filler content hidden away in dusty unused corners of apps that don’t work the same across platforms <https://t.co/XQ7k6Z5f6s>…
Adam Tooze: Books We Read in International & Global History<
David Dayen: Now Can We Try the Day One Agenda?: ‘Pramila Jayapal has come around to the right idea, after foolishly putting her trust in Biden to work out a deal with Manchin. She said on a press call today that the Biden administration must now pivot to executive action to make progress, as Manchin has stalled it at the legislative level. “We cannot make the same mistake twice,” Jayapal said. “It is abundantly clear that we cannot trust what Sen. Manchin says.” It just so happens that well over two years ago, this magazine wrote a guideline to using presidential power called the Day One Agenda. We identified 77 discrete actions the next president could take on their own authority simply by executing laws already passed by Congress…. We wrote the Day One Agenda precisely as a counterpoint to the despair of legislative paralysis. There’s not a ton we can do about the paralysis, but a president can govern. And we know what he can do. We wrote it down and everything…
Jonathan Cohn: Joe Manchin’s ‘Scaled-Back’ Framework May Be Better than It Sounds: ‘Whatever Manchin’s motives, whatever the consistency or merits of his views, a bill that includes fewer initiatives but is funded permanently might actually be better as both politics and policy—as a number of liberal writers and thinkers have been arguing for weeks. In fact, it’s possible this is the type of bill that Biden and party leaders would have tried passing from the very beginning, if not for the unusual, ultimately fleeting political circumstances that prevailed in late 2020 and early 2021…
Philippe Aghion & Aymann Mhammedi: The Keys to Inclusive Growth: ‘One of the COVID–19 pandemic’s most important economic lessons is that innovation and inclusion need not be mutually exclusive. By pursuing the right policies, Western governments can promote both and thereby help to bring about a dynamic and equitable recovery: The COVID–19 pandemic has highlighted major weaknesses… the limits of an economic system that fails to protect individuals… the insufficient dynamism of the region’s innovation ecosystem…. We do not regard the US economic model’s lack of protection and inclusiveness as a necessary price to pay for greater innovativeness. Nor do we think that Europe’s lack of innovativeness is a natural consequence of greater inclusion and better social protection. So, besides calling for greater investment in education, we advocate two policies that should both stimulate innovation-based growth and make it more inclusive and/or protective: beefed-up competition policy, and a Danish-style “flexicurity” system in the labor market…
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