A New York Times columnist who has been closely following the COVID-19 pandemic observes that the data indicate the new omicron variant is roughly at the same risk level as the seasonal flu.
David Leonhardt writes that the “latest evidence about Covid is largely positive.”
“A few weeks ago, many experts and journalists were warning that the initial evidence from South Africa — suggesting that Omicron was milder than other variants — might turn out to be a mirage. It has turned out to be real,” he said.
Because omicron is “milder than earlier versions of the virus, Covid now appears to present less threat to most vaccinated elderly people than the annual flu does,” he wrote.
“The flu, of course, does present risk for the elderly. And the sheer size of the Omicron surge may argue for caution over the next few weeks,” he said. “But the combination of vaccines and Omicron’s apparent mildness means that, for an individual, Covid increasingly resembles the kind of health risk that people accept every day.”
In November, Leonhardt pointed out on Twitter, when the delta variant was dominant, that for young children, COVID-19 “looks like a normal flu, if not a mild one,” citing Centers for Disease Control statistics.
Ed Morrissey spotlighted Leonhardt’s remarks on the Hot Air blog, noting as a caveat that delta is “still around,” comprising 4% of the daily cases, about 18,000, which “can still create a lot of havoc, including excess hospitalizations and deaths.”
But Morrissey said Leonhardt’s “assessment is not just accurate, it’s overdue from a public policy standpoint as well.”
“We need to soberly assess the risks as they currently stand, both publicly and personally, and calculate our policies in the knowledge that COVID-19 is an endemic virus with which we will have to live for the long run,” he said.
“If Omicron crowds out more virulent strains and spreads across the entire population now,” Morrissey wrote, “we will likely come out the other end in a few weeks with effective herd immunity and the tools to manage normal life again.”
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