Confronting Omicron: One Step Forward, One Step Static

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President Joe Biden’s recent address on the Omicron variant was full of holiday miracles. After nearly a year in office, Biden finally conceded the obvious by acknowledging that President Trump deserves credit for developing Covid-19 vaccines in record time. Biden also offered a half-hearted compliment to Trump for announcing that he had gotten a booster shot.

Rounding out the seasonal marvels was the fact that Biden resisted the temptation — to which he and most other officials have routinely succumbed during the pandemic — to impose additional lockdowns. He acknowledged that the Omicron variant is highly transmissible and is leading to a surge in cases, but cautioned that we should not panic. And in welcome news to parents and children around the country, Biden even conceded that “we don’t have to shut down schools because of a case of Covid-19.”

Biden’s newfound more conservative approach appears to recognize that while the Omicron variant is more transmissible than earlier variants, vaccine and natural immunity continue to provide protection against severe disease. New studies out of South Africa and Scotland indicate that the risk of hospitalization with Omicron is between 68 and 80 percent lower than with earlier variants, including Delta. And among patients admitted to the hospital, those infected with Omicron were far less likely to progress to ICU care or death compared with other variants.

Despite the Omicron surge, the country is in a much better position than before. Two-thirds of Americans ages five and older — the people eligible for vaccination — have been fully vaccinated. Another 10 percent have received at least one dose. Thirty-two percent of the fully vaccinated have received boosters. Over 150 million have had Covid infections with resulting natural immunity.

Biden has, perhaps, finally realized that lockdowns are of limited utility and that their economic, social, and educational side effects far outweigh the direct damage from Covid-19.

Read the full article at National Review.