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Desperate to Keep Humanity Alarmed

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Here’s a letter to the Washington Post: (For excellent feedback on an earlier version of this letter I thank Matt Ridley)

Editor:

Joel Achenbach’s report on the BA.5 variant of omicron misses an important reality (“As the BA.5 variant spreads, the risk of coronavirus reinfection grows [2],” July 10). Yes, this variant might well be more transmissible than were its predecessors. But this evolution is no cause for alarm: it occurred because respiratory viruses achieve greater transmissibility by becoming less dangerous. As the acclaimed science writer Matt Ridley explained, “[t]he fiercest enemy of a virus is another virus. Omicron ousted delta at least partly because people with mild symptoms were more likely to go to work or parties (or not notice they were ill) than people with severe ones.”*

And so it is with the BA.5 variant. As Mr. Achenbach admits, despite its impressive transmissibility, BA.5 is a piker compared to earlier variants at putting people into their graves or even into hospitals.

You and other major news organizations must quit obsessively focusing on covid. Because it is, or will soon be, endemic, cases of this virus should no longer be reported as headline news.

Sincerely,
Donald J. Boudreaux
Professor of Economics
and
Martha and Nelson Getchell Chair for the Study of Free Market Capitalism at the Mercatus Center
George Mason University
Fairfax, VA 22030

* Matt Ridley, “Breathe easy: how respiratory viruses evolve to become milder [3],” The Spectator, February 25, 2022.