Lack Of Local Transmission Undermines The Entire Narrative
Those who follow my Telegram or Minds channels know that, since the Omicron variant was announced, I have been harping on local transmission of the virus. More precisely, I have been harping on the absence of local transmission of Omicron outside of southern Africa.
“Local transmission” means the virus spreads from host to host within a community, as opposed to an already-infected host entering a community. Without local transmission, any infectious disease is of minor concern for most people.
Without local transmission of the Omicron variant, the concern quickly becomes the extent to which the media is gaslighting the public, creating a decidedly false narrative to fuel a resurgence of pandemic panic. The extant data shows that the narrative is indeed false in many respects.
It Started As “Botswana”
Variant B.1.1.529 was first isolated in Botswana in early November (initially, it was reported as November 11, but some sources indicate the sample was actually taken on November 9). Dubbed the “Botswana” variant, it quickly gained notoriety as a possible variant unaffected by the Big Pharma inoculations.
The variant has only been found in three countries so far - but it has sparked fears it could spread further and beat vaccines.
As I documented last week, little was (and is) known about Omicron. The most significant bit of knowledge is that the variant has an extraordinary number of mutations.
According to Tulio de Oliveira, the director of the Centre for Epidemic Response and Innovation in South Africa, the main cause of concern among virologists epidemiologists is the extraordinary number of mutations found within the genome, far more than is typically seen in a new variant.
This, and the potential ramification that the variant could evade the antibodies generated by the Pfizer, Moderna, et al, inoculations, are in large measure the basis of concern over the variant.
Yet the most curious aspect of Omicron is that local transmission has occurred in Botswana, South Africa, and a few of the neighboring countries, but as of this writing has not been reported anywhere else. Despite the attempts of the major media outlets to reset the chronology, at this juncture there is no evidence Omicron emerged anywhere but in Botswana.
The Netherlands Was Not First
The most egregious attempt--and the most nakedly dishonest--to reset the chronology to better suit the narrative was a November 30 update in the Associated Press indicating that Omicron was in the Netherlands before it was in Botswana.
The Dutch health authority says it has found the new omicron variant of the coronavirus in two local cases going back as far as 11 days, showing it was already in western Europe’s heartland before the reports came out of South Africa last week.
The RIVM health institute said it found omicron in samples dating from Nov. 19 and 23. Those findings predate the positive cases found among passengers that came from South Africa last Friday and were tested at Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport.
Note the subtle shift from the date of report to the date of the sample.This alteration of context leads to an unavoidable inference that Omicronn in the Netherlands predates Omicron in Botswana and South Africa.
That inference is simply wrong. The earliest reported date of a COVID-19 sample with Omicron at the time this article appeared was November 9/11 in Botswana, although a retrospective genomic sequencing in Nigeria indicates the variant emerged even earlier.
Moreover, even the earlier cases for the Netherlands were travel related. Local transmission was not a factor in the Netherlands cases.
Where Is The Local Transmission?
Since variant B.1.1.529 “Omicron” was reported to the WHO on November 24, a number of countries have recorded Omicron cases.
Belgium and Israel reported their first Omicron cases on November 26.
Australia announced its first Omicron cases on November 28.
The Netherlands reported 13 cases on November 28.
A Portuguese soccer team reported 13 cases of Omicron on November 29.
Brazil, Japan, and France reported travel related Omicron cases on November 30.
(Note: I am linking this list to posts in my Telegram channel to capture a sense of the timeline of events. Each post ties back to a media story on the spread of Omicron.)
What is noteworthy about all of the Omicron announcements is that they all reported the cases as travel related. Even the cases involving a Portuguese soccer team appeared to be travel related, although it seems the one team member who traveled to southern Africa spread the virus to his teammates.
For all the hysteria about the transmissibility of Omicron, and the doomsday predictions of the frequently-wrong Imperial College London, outside of southern Africa, Omicron thus far has not been all that contagious.
Omicron Is Mild
While the major media has been focusing on the “spread” of travel related Omicron cases, they are largely ignoring an important dimension of the Omicron variant: it appears to cause relatively mild illness. That is the assessment of Dr. Angelique Coetzee, chairwoman of the South African Medical Association.
"It presents mild disease with symptoms being sore muscles and tiredness for a day or two not feeling well. So far, we have detected that those infected do not suffer loss of taste or smell. They might have a slight cough. There are no prominent symptoms. Of those infected some are currently being treated at home", Coetzee said
This assessment was echoed by another South African physician, Dr. Barry Schoub, chairman of the Ministerial Advisory Committee on Vaccines.
“The cases that have occurred so far have all been mild cases, mild-to-moderate cases, and that’s a good sign,” said Schoub, adding that it was still early days and nothing was certain yet.
Instead of reporting this, the major media has focused on the pronouncements of non-South African doctors (i.e., doctors not witnessing the actual trajectory of Omicron infection) that Omicron is the “worst ever” variant.
"Based on the numbers and the types of mutations it looks like the worst variant that we have come across so far," Dr. Deepak Srivastava, President of the Gladstone Institutes.
Instead of contextual, nuanced analysis, “experts” like Eric Feigl-Ding offer up these histrionics:
At the time Feigl-Ding's graphs were generated, South Africa had reported a total of 77 Omicron cases.
Omicron Is Spreading
The media narrative gets this much right: Omicron is spreading. Local transmission and community spread will happen outside of South Africa, if they haven't already. Such is the nature of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, and all infectious respiratory pathogens.
Yet ubiquity is not a cause for fear or panic. Judging by the accounts of physicians treating COVID-19 cases in South Africa, Omicron is a mild strain. While it may lead to an increase in cases, it will not necessarily lead to an increase in hospitalizations.
Judging by the time it is taking for local transmission to be confirmed outside South Africa, Feigl-Ding's “500%” increase in transmissibility over Delta is an exaggeration.
These unreported nuances change the potential reality of Omicron from the new plague heralded by the major media to this year's equivalent of seasonal flu. That is a rather large distinction, for if the latter should prove to be the case, the governmental responses to Omicron will prove to be costly and counterproductive errors.
You would not get that message from the major media.