Will The Media Accept The Ebb Of Omicron As The End Of The Pandemic?
The pandemic panic narrative is continuing unabated.
How else are we to interpret the latest media COVID-19 reporting?
In New York, Governor Kathy Hochul continues to beat the vaccination drum.
New York’s COVID-19 cases continued trending downward, with 47,870 reported Friday, the latest state numbers show.
The figure was nearly half of the surge-high mark of 90,132 seen Jan. 7, Gov. Kathy Hochul said Saturday.
“We’re not through this yet,” she warned, urging New Yorkers to “keep getting vaccinated … and wearing non-cloth masks.”
In California, the Omicron wave has prompted thousands of people to flock to the nearest hospital ER to get tested for SARS-COV-2—so much so that public health officials are asking people to not use the ER as a testing center.
With California bracing for an unprecedented number of hospitalizations amid a staggering surge in coronavirus infections, health officials pleaded with residents Friday to reserve emergency rooms for true emergencies and not run to them in a search for scarce virus tests.
Meanwhile, Boston's vaccine requirement comes into effect this weekend.
Customers at Boston’s restaurants, gyms and sports arenas had to show proof on Saturday that they were at least partially inoculated against COVID-19 as the city launches a new policy to curb the virus’ spread.
The vaccine requirement, announced last month, follows similar orders in New York City, Chicago, Philadelphia and other cities that have moved to exclude people who are unvaccinated from a variety of indoor businesses.
One could easily be forgiven for thinking the COVID-19 pandemic is still raging at full strength, if the major media outlets were the sole source of COVID-19 information.
The Data Tells A Different Story
What is remarkable about these news items is that in New York, California, and Massachusetts, COVID-19 cases have been declining for at least the past several days if not longer.
Of the three states, New York shows the most dramatic decline.
To its credit, the New York Post did acknowledge the decline in COVID-19 cases even as Governor Kathy Hochul dismissed the numbers in her call for all New York state residents to get vaccinated.
There is no such recognition in California, however, even though cases there have been declining for the last three days.
In Massachusetts, COVID-19 cases have been declining for roughly four days.
We must acknowledge that these declines are relatively brief, and subsequent data may reveal further increases in case counts. However, as was noted on ZeroHedge on January 10, investment bank Morgan Stanley projected the Omicron wave peaking in the US in as little as 1-2 weeks.
The MS team explained that their bull case assumes a peak 1-2 weeks from now, while their bear case would mean the peak might be as many as 8 weeks distant.
The Morgan Stanley analysis is now at least a week old. In their “bull case" scenario, Omicron is peaking in the US at this moment, more or less. While the MS analysis is not proof the case declines in these three states represent the peak of the Omicron wave, these declines are exactly what we would expect to see particularly in their “bull case" scenario.
Far from the pessimism being exuded by the media, the data justifies a certain guarded optimism.
Even The Media Views Omicron As “The End”
With rather perverse irony, even as the media attempts to downplay Omicron's overall milder disease presentation while playing up the (largely nonexistent) benefits of the vaccines, they have been forced to make an important concession: Omicron will likely hasten the virus’ transition to an endemic pathogen.
Now, some researchers say omicron could actually hasten the virus’ transition from pandemic to endemic, albeit with large numbers of illnesses and potential deaths along the way.
The theory: Due to omicron’s high rate of transmission and danger to unvaccinated and non-boosted people, hospitalizations and deaths could rise significantly in the coming weeks and months — but survivors could emerge with a degree of so-called “natural immunity” that could help protect against Covid’s next variant of concern.
Even Anthony Fauci himself has acknowledged this possibility.
Fauci also said it is technically possible that omicron could hasten the end of the pandemic, if it proves true that that variant, with its high degree of transmissibility, replaces other strains of the virus that cause more severe infections.
“I would hope that’s the case,” Fauci said when asked about that possibility, but “there’s no guarantee that that would happen.”
But “if you have a very transmissible virus that replaces another virus, and [the replacement virus] has less of a degree of severity, that would be a positive outcome,” he said.
Significantly, in that same interview, Fauci also projected the Omicron wave would peak in the US by the end of January, a timeframe that aligns rather well with the Morgan Stanley assessment.
“I would imagine, given the size of our country and the diversity of vaccination versus not vaccination, that it likely will be more than a couple of weeks, probably by the end of January, I would think,” Fauci said.
The “Experts” Don't Want The Pandemic To End
Fauci's admission, however, does not prevent either the media or various “experts” from attempting to keep the pandemic panic narrative alive by warning of future variants as yet unknown, and potentially more lethal and even less likely to cooperate with the vaccines than Omicron.
Because omicron appears to cause less severe disease than delta, its behavior has kindled hope that it could be the start of a trend that eventually makes the virus milder like a common cold.
It’s a possibility, experts say, given that viruses don’t spread well if they kill their hosts very quickly. But viruses don’t always get less deadly over time.
A variant could also achieve its main goal - replicating - if infected people developed mild symptoms initially, spread the virus by interacting with others, then got very sick later, [Dr. Stuart Campbell] Ray explained by way of example.
What is fascinating about this “concern” over the SARS-CoV-2 virus becoming more virulent and lethal over time is that it flies in the face of what microbiologist and virologists have historically asserted about such viruses: as they mutate and evolve they tend to attenuate and become less deadly.
We know from studying viral evolution that genetic drift, in particular derived from genomic deletions, will almost inevitably attenuate the pathogenicity of viruses given enough time
Dr. Ray's warnings about future variants being more rather than less deadly is not only contrary to this historical assertion about viral evolution, it also is contrary to what the data has shown over time. As I discussed in the fall of 2020, subsequent waves of COVID-19 infection have, by and large, been generally less virulent and less lethal. This trend has certainly been the case in the United States even through the Omicron wave, as successive waves of infection have been marked by successively lower peaks in the case fatality rate.
A variant of greater pathogenicity (ability to cause disease and ultimately death) may emerge, but, overall, we should expect future variants to be milder and with less pathogenicity.
That Dr. Ray's warnings go against the history of microbiology and current epidemiological data suggests that he and other COVID-19 “experts” truly do not want the pandemic panic to end. They want people fearful indefinitely, and are turning away from their own scientific histories to stoke that fear.
All Pandemics Come To An End
Yet the history of epidemic disease shows unequivocally that all pandemics come to an end. Even the apocalyptically deadly historical plagues such as the Plague of Justinian and the Black Death faded away in time, and without the benefit of modern medicine and science. The CDC's own chronologies of historical influenza pandemics show us that pandemic disease is ultimately a transitory phenomenon; every pandemic will recede in due time.
COVID-19 will be no different. Both the history of microbiology and the current data converge to prove this.
It is too soon to say with certainty that Omicron will be the last significant SARS-CoV-2 variant in this pandemic. Certainly no other variant of concern has been noted by either the CDC or the WHO thus far.
With cases seemingly peaking in several states already, however, the probability of the Omicron wave receding in the very near future is rising. As Omicron departs the world stage, if no new variant emerges, then we are looking finally at the passing of this pandemic. The SARS-CoV-2 virus may not fade away completely, but rather fade into the background of seasonal infectious respiratory disease, where it will be merely one of hundreds of viruses which circulate every year.
While it is too soon to declare the pandemic at an end, it is not too soon for the cautious hope that we are reaching the end at long last. It remains to be seen whether the media will share in that hope.