This coronavirus, especially the Omicron variant, is so fast-moving that mass testing and contact tracing, and probably even isolation and quarantine, can’t slow it down significantly. The U.K. and other countries, unlike the U.S., already had widespread rapid-testing capacity during their recent surges, yet they experienced the same meteoric rise in cases. As with other interventions such as booster shots, testing is most useful for those at high risk of serious complications, who might benefit from early treatment.
As for masking, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently acknowledged that cloth masks do relatively little to prevent spread. Some experts on coronaviruses, including epidemiologist Michael Osterholm, for nearly two years have questioned  the efficacy of masks. A recent rigorous review  by his University of Minnesota research group concludes: “We are well past the emergency phase of this pandemic, and it should be well-known by now that wearing cloth face coverings or surgical masks, universal or otherwise, has a very minor role to play…. It is time to stop overselling their efficacy and unrealistic expectations about their ability to end the pandemic.”
And while vaccines and boosters continue to offer strong protection against serious illness and death—and are therefore vitally important to those at high risk—they’re less effective at preventing infection, especially with the Omicron variant. While a new CDC study  finds that boosters substantially reduce risk of infection as well as hospitalization from Omicron, countries like the U.K. and Israel that had widespread booster coverage before Omicron struck have also seen unprecedented surges in cases.
Although reported numbers of “Covid hospitalizations” are up nationally, these figures include patients admitted for other reasons who incidentally test positive. Based on data from several states and the U.K., it appears that roughly half these admissions likely aren’t caused mainly by the virus. Health and Human Services Department data indicate the total number of patients  in U.S hospitals has hardly budged over the past six months.
Because the new variant primarily targets the upper airways instead of the lungs, doctors report that few patients are requiring ventilation or even supplemental oxygen. Christopher Murray of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation estimates  in the Lancet that the number of Omicron deaths “seems to be similar in most countries to the level of a bad influenza season in northern hemisphere countries.” In 2017-18, the flu caused some 52,000 deaths in the U.S., probably peaking at more than 1,500 a day.
Here’s a report on how some principled, intrepid, and creative people managed at least temporarily to halt a government-orchestrated ‘voluntary’ vaccine-passport scheme in Orange County, CA . (HT Suzie Danforth)
To the extent that this [January 23rd rally in DC] was a rally against vaccination , it was misguided.
But some of the people who showed up on Sunday were making a narrower point, and one that’s clearly correct: The government should not have the power to force you to make a private medical decision that has little effect on anyone else. Your vaccination status is, by and large, your business. The vaccines are not substantially blocking the spread of COVID-19: We all know countless vaccinated people who’ve caught the disease. This is particularly true of the omicron wave: It’s great to be vaccinated, but the vaccine is not preventing you or your close contacts from contracting COVID-19. The vaccine is a personal health decision. It protects the person who gets it, and thus it’s not really the government’s business.
Yet countless municipalities, including our nation’s capital—the site of this weekend’s protest—are broadly mandating vaccination. In D.C., if you want to enter a restaurant, you have to show not just your vaccine card, but also a photo ID—like a driver’s license—in order to prove that the card is really yours.
Note that D.C.’s COVID-19 mitigation policies have been, at all times, foolish. D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser reimposed a mask mandate to deal with delta, even though the mayor herself had been partying maskless the night before . The district’s vaccine mandate took effect last week, ostensibly to deal with omicron, but guess what? Omicron is largely over in D.C. Cases are plummeting.
Sitting respectfully in our ‘pews’, we put our hands together… and clap. This is not a service but a comedy night. And Amsterdam’s newest ‘church’ is really a theatre for debate and cultural centre in disguise. Incensed by the illogical nature of the current Dutch coronavirus restrictions, Yoeri Albrecht, director of De Balie , last week changed the statutes of his organisation and registered  it with the chamber of commerce as a faith-based movement: overnight, The Philosophical Society; the Community of Reason was born.
It is unlikely to be the last. His example, a group of Dutch mayors predicted wryly in an open letter  to the government, is likely to mark the start of “an unprecedented religious revival in the coming weeks”.
It’s sad that Nicholas Wade’s new report about Francis Collins and Anthony Fauci – a report that “[n]ewly released emails make more plausible the contention that Anthony Fauci and Francis Collins presided over the suppression of the lab-leak theory for political reasons” – is unsurprising . A slice:
From almost the moment the Covid-19 pandemic broke out in the city of Wuhan, the medical-research establishment in Washington and London insisted that the virus had emerged naturally. Only conspiracy theorists, they said, would give credence to the idea that the virus had escaped from the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
Now a string of unearthed emails—the most recent being a batch viewed by the House Oversight and Reform Committee and referred to in its January 11, 2022 letter —is making it seem increasingly likely that there was, in fact, a conspiracy, its aim being to suppress the notion that the virus had emerged from research funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), headed by Anthony Fauci. The latest emails don’t prove such a conspiracy, but they make it more plausible, for two reasons: because the expert virologists therein present such a strong case for thinking that the virus had lab-made features and because of the wholly political reaction to this bombshell on the part of Francis Collins, then-director of the National Institutes of Health.
Jay Bhattacharya tweets :
So many good people sacrificed so much to comply with the failed Covid policies. I am grateful to live in a country with so many public-spirited people. It is the architects of lockdowns & the panic-mongers whose thinking needs repudiation so their mistakes are never repeated.
When an evaluation of the failures of Covid policy finally occurs, “fringe” thinkers should play a central role. The designers and intellectual enforcers of the lockdowns will want a whitewash, but the public should not permit it.