Vaccine Politics Not Working to Biden Administration Advantage

After repeatedly claiming that a Biden Administration would “follow the science” on Covid, it now appears to be hoist on its petard of instead relying on least effort approaches combined with better propaganda, aka placing all its bets on vaccines.

These headlines illustrate the problem. The first is the lead in the Wall Street Journal; the second is from the Financial Times:

It’s hard to know where to begin. First, as we’ve pointed out repeatedly, the officialdom has grossly oversold the vaccines, treating them as if they prevent contagion, as opposed to hospitalization and death. Mind you, the latter is important not just on an individual but also a societal level, to keep hospitals from imploding. But after the CDC denying the possibility of breakthrough cases and refusing to track them after its May “Mission Accomplished,” we’re now at the point where the press is writing about breakthrough hospitalizations.

So the “get boosted to fight Omicron” is bonkers on two levels. First, “fight” to most people means “fight it spreading” which they haven’t under Delta. And of course it presupposes that the current vaccines would be effective against Omicron. We’ve said as soon as we started writing about Omicron that experts were very much in agreement that it had multiple signs of being able to substantially and likely even entirely evade the current vaccines as well as infection-acquired immunity. There’s already anecdata-level confirmation. The three first cases in Israel were all in vaccinated citizens. 13 members of the Portuguese soccer team Belenenses tested positive for Omicron after one recently returned from South Africa. All the team members were vaccinated.

Mind you, it is not yet clear if Omicron will replace Delta or exist along side it, and how quickly Omicron will get established and spread. So there is some logic in pressing the public to get vaccinated and boosted, since the US looks to be moving into a winter Delta wave, at least in the northern part of the country.

However, the messaging over the weekend continued to be upbeat about how well the current vaccines would work against Omicron, despite the lack of good reasons to think so and evidence of the reverse. I ran this embarrassing clip yesterday. It’s worth featuring it again to further identify Gottlieb with Pfizer-serving hopium:

Gottlieb kept up his cheerleading Monday morning on CNBC:

There’s a reasonable degree of confidence in vaccine circles that [with] at least three doses . . . the patient is going to have fairly good protection against this variant

On top of that, on Monday Biden himself stepped up to yet again try to act as if he’s in front of the Omicron situation, when he’s refusing to take the one action that could really matter, which is to clamp down hard on entry from overseas, which could be done via barring flights or mandatory quarantine (the US did bar entry from eight African countries but as we know Omicron is now in the UK, Netherlands, Portugal, Hong Kong…). But since the US refused to impose serious quarantines anytime earlier in this crisis, we don’t have the apparatus ready now.

This is right at the top of Biden’s remarks, barely over a minute in, after saluting Thanksgiving, South African officials, and the WHO, just a minute in:

But while we have that travel restrictions can slow the speed of Omnicron [sic], it cannot prevent it. But here’s what it does. It gives us time. It gives us time to take more actions, to move quicker, to make sure people understand you have to get your vaccine. You have to get the shot. You have to get the booster.

No surprises, sadly. Biden then argues, “First, this variant is a cause for concern, not a cause for panic…” when panic is the appropriate protective response when faced with the possibility of very bad outcomes. You can always recalibrate if warranted when you have better information. But the speech is all vaccinate, vaccinate, vaccinate, get boosted, vaccinate the kids, vaccinate the world, as well as a statement There is one sentence about masking, and a remark that while not everything is yet known about Omicron, “I believe that the vaccines will continue to provide a degree of protection against severe disease.” How nice.

Fauci also said early that morning that lockdowns were off the table, which is a remarkable statement since that’s a state-level, not a Federal decision. A reporter picked up on that and challenged Biden, who said:

Well, because if people are vaccinated and wear their mask, there’s no need for the lockdown.

Looks like his team has not gotten the memo that Omicron is estimated on a preliminary basis to be 500% as contagious as Delta [UPDATE: although that may be due to mainly and maybe entirely to immune escape rather than raw transmission/reproductive power Delta was more contagious due to replication force]. If that proves to be the case, cloth and surgical masks won’t cut it, even if worn properly, which is also regularly not observed.

Contrast this happy talk with the dose of reality from Moderna’s CEO in an interview with the Financial Times. Keep in mind that corporate-speak, especially when telling customers what they don’t want to hear, has to be measured:

Stéphane Bancel said the high number of Omicron mutations on the spike protein, which the virus uses to infect human cells, and the rapid spread of the variant in South Africa suggested that the current crop of vaccines may need to be modified next year.

“There is no world, I think, where [the effectiveness] is the same level . . . we had with [the] Delta [variant],” Bancel told the Financial Times in an interview at the company’s headquarters in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

He added: “I think it’s going to be a material drop. I just don’t know how much because we need to wait for the data. But all the scientists I’ve talked to . . . are like, ‘This is not going to be good’.”

Bancel poured more cold water on the idea that a new vaccine could be developed and distributed at the former warp speed. Bancel is also concerned about the possibility of needing to make vaccines both for Delta and Omicron, which means production could not be turned fully over to producing an Omicron vaccine. Recall that Pfizer promised a new vaccine if needed in 100 days. Again from the Financial Times:

Bancel said data indicating how existing vaccines performed against the Omicron variant, and whether it caused severe disease, should become available within two weeks.

But he said it would take several months before an Omicron-specific vaccine could be produced at scale, and suggested there might be a case for giving more potent boosters to the elderly or people with compromised immune systems in the meantime.

“[Moderna] and Pfizer cannot get a billion doses next week. The maths doesn’t work. But could we get the billion doses out by the summer? Sure,” said Bancel, who predicted Moderna could make a total of 2bn-3bn doses in 2022.

But he said it would be risky to shift Moderna’s entire production capacity to an Omicron-targeted jab at a time when other variants were still in circulation.

GM pointed out:

Moderna did a lot of shitty things in the pandemic in terms of patents, insider trading, etc.

But scientifically they have been the most honest actors in the vaccine space throughout — much more honest than Pfizer and also than most governments. Pfizer’s CEO was talking about how there will probably be reasonable protection yesterday.

Meanwhile Moderna were the first to warn the vaccines will fail quickly, and with data too, many months before they actually failed.

Back to the Biden front. The President’s vaccine mandate took a second setback on Monday as 10 states who had sued to block the injection requirement for health workers in hospitals via threatening to cut Federal funding won a preliminary injunction. From The Hill:

The ruling by a Missouri-based federal judge applies to health care employees in the 10 states that sued to block the administration’s Nov. 5 rule. Those states are Alaska, Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming.

U.S. District Judge Matthew Schelp, a Trump appointee, appeared persuaded by the states’ argument that the mandate would lead to staffing shortages.

“The scale falls clearly in favor of healthcare facilities operating with some unvaccinated employees, staff, trainees, students, volunteers and contractors, rather than the swift, irremediable impact of requiring healthcare facilities to choose between two undesirable choices — providing substandard care or providing no healthcare at all,” Schelp wrote in a 32-page order

In September, the New York Times reported 97% to 99% compliance rates at large hospital chains. Yet a newly published CDC report, but admittedly only through September 15, said only 70% of hospital workers were vaccinated.
One reason some hospitals are reporting high vaccine uptake rates is handing out waivers like candy. As a senior member of a hospital wrote recently:

I have now had 4 employees in the office today for medical exemptions. One is 2 months pregnant – the other 3 are folks with COVID antibody positive.

We already have no employees – losing even one will be a cataclysm.

I have now been scheduled with 4 more of these people tomorrow – the email about being fired on DEC 1 went out today.

I went to the chief of staff today and informed him that I will be filling out these forms on every one of these young people.

He said to me – We are following the DUKE model – it has been all over the hospital management world – have them fill out any exemption – religious or medical – and they are automatically accepted – it is how these hospitals are reporting near 100% compliance. “They are so stupidly fucked if they think we can afford to fire a single person”. Everyone in Washington knows this is happening too.

This is apparently going on all over the country.

The vaccine-or-test mandate (which some for their administrative convenience or managerial preferences are upping into a vaccine-only policy) for establishments of 100 employees or over is also falling by the wayside. Admittedly some companies are true believers; one reader said his employer was requiring vaccinations of all workers and contractors, even those who worked at home. But those who were less gung ho or more desperate to keep workers are more and more going into inaction mode after a Federal court issued a temporary stay against the OSHA emergency rule. From Alex Berenson (yes I know he can be controversial on science but this isn’t a science matter):

I have now heard from several people that they have either submitted requests for exemptions and heard nothing back or been given helpful advice on how to be approved. Others have simply ignored their employers’ deadlines and faced no penalties.

With discontent over the mandate high and rising, the job market tight, and a good chance the Supreme Court will strike down the Biden rule before it ever takes effect, the fact employers are slow-walking enforcement shouldn’t surprise anyone. The mess over boosters only makes matters worse. Companies will surely not want to be in the position of having this fight with employees every six months.

Remember the US is an employment-at-will country, so companies could still implement OSHA-type requirements all on their own. And yes, the Berenson report is anecdata, but there are similar stories from other sources, as well as accounts of other employers being strict.

Finally, the Wall Street Journal, in a breaking story, confirms something we’d also warned about in our initial report last Friday, which picked up on Thomas Peakcock’s take in his GitHub discussion of Omicron even before it was named B.1.1.529: that it looked as if it would evade monoclonal antibody treatments. From the Journal:

Preliminary tests indicate the Covid-19 antibody drug cocktail from Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. loses effectiveness against Omicron, the company said Tuesday, a sign that some products in an important class of therapies might need modifying if the new strain becomes widespread.

Separate testing of another authorized Covid-19 antibody drug cocktail, from Eli Lilly & Co., indicates it also isn’t as effective against Omicron, outside scientists said. Lilly said it is testing the new variant against its antibody treatment and wouldn’t speculate on what the results will be.

So while it would be far more pleasant to have some cheery news on the Covid front, as one curmudgeon I know regularly says, “If you want a happy ending, watch a Disney movie.”

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  1. Eric377

    This is full of reasons to think that a vaccine-heavy set of policies won’t be adequate for best public health outcomes, but not very persuasive that it will be a political mistake. It could be, but depends on what the Biden administration thinks is to their advantage. Maybe lots of turmoil in early 2022 isn’t bad for them if it drives voting rules right back to very heavy mail-in participation for “safety”. McAuliffe didn’t lose by much and VA Democrats at least tried to resurrect heavy mail-in in parts of the state. Did not find success in their efforts, but that was prior to as big a fear input omicron might be. Without debating why they think this, Democrats do believe expansive voting outside of voting booths helps them.

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        Yes, and I neglected to say in the post that if Omicron is as bad as it appears to be, we are going to have lockdowns, God Emperor Fauci be damned. Probably not everywhere since resistance is high but if hospitals are out of ER capacity and can’t handle heart attacks and strokes and car crash victims due to Covid, they will lock down. We had about a week of that in Alabama in Jan but it abated. If it had gone another week, even this deep red state would have restricted activities.

        1. Jason Boxman

          Indeed, once NC broke this last Friday, I realized I needed to revisit my pronouncements that there won’t be anymore lockdowns. If this pans out, it’s game changing in a 2020 way. We’re once again in mostly uncharted territory in terms of viral behavior, with sadly governments none the wiser on prudent responses. If we’d fully and forcefully adopted a defense in depth approach, we’d at least have some latitude available to buy time for improved vaccines to avoid worst outcomes or to devise new treatment options…


        2. chris

          Me and mine are preparing for lock down 2.0 after Christmas. That includes two months of food plus some additional stores in case family and neighbors need it.

          Living in the DC/MD/NoVa region, it will no doubt seem to many of those in charge that a lock down is the easiest solution. We don’t have a solid test to stay regime in place so we might have many options. Of course, I doubt our leaders would do that before Christmas, which might prevent the need for more serious lock downs later. I told my kids that we don’t know what will happen with Omicron yet, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they had a extra long holiday break this year, or if they were sent home from school again in the spring.

          All that being said… Another set of lock downs will destroy support for public schools where I live. None of the people who pay taxes will want to be tied to public schools that can shut down like this, regardless of how effective or warranted the shut downs may be. They will fight for vouchers and school choice and will gladly impoverish the local schools to accomplish that. The fallout in local and state politics from another shut down would be severe. I can’t see governors wanting to do it. But I also don’t think they’ll have much of a choice if the trends as close to as bad as feared.

          “Eat, drink, and be merry! For tomorrow we die…”

        3. jonst

          “bad as it appears”? Appears to whom? The reports from the Doctor who first ‘discovered it’…or, treated it anyway, said the “symptoms are mild”. I have no particular idea how bad, or mild, it is, but who says its “bad”?

          1. Michaelmas

            The reports from the Doctor who first ‘discovered it’…or, treated it anyway, said the “symptoms are mild”

            Mild because only seen in a youthful South African demographic, all under 35, IIRC.

            Those results say nothing, as the S. African doctor who reported them stressed, about Omicron’s likely effects across the older populations in much of the rest of the world.

            but who says its “bad”?

            Omicron’s reproductive rates appear to be an order of magnitude worse than Delta, hard as that is to get one’s mind around.

            As for the rest, we will find out.

          2. Yves Smith Post author

            This is fake news.

            As we explained, the quote was cherry picked. She said no such thing. And she was not the one who discovered Omicron, it was Thomas Peacock on Github who has been tracking sequences. And what is incorrectly reported as haivng said flat out contradicts what the RSA health minister said in an hour plus long presentation last Thursday, with shit tons of data and charts.

            This whole story is close to a fabrication. See:


            And was contradicted by data even as of then:


        4. arte

          It’s the market based approach, the invisible hand of death and ER capacity will guide the lockdowns! Much more efficient (at killing people) than government dictates.

          There are so many Charles Trevelyans around, too. History rhymes, this time to the tune of the 1840s… even “pandemic fatigue” is setting in while most of the dying is still ahead.

      2. Eric377

        So don’t lock down or close schools. Things don’t have to stay in turmoil through the election, just until the election rules get set. My point is that the politics of this and a cool assessment of responsible public stewardship are not necessarily that closely related. I feel comfortable saying Wisconsin Democratic leaders would be happy to exchange some turmoil in the first quarter in exchange for 500,000 mail-in ballots (or more) going out in third quarter for the November election.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Huh? Your take on McAuliffe is incorrect. The Democrats thoroughly expected to win that race. When late in the game, the polls tightened, they pulled out all stops and send in Biden, Harris and Obama. The fact that that show of national Dem star power didn’t change the trajectory at all speaks badly of how things were as of then, and they haven’t gotten better.

      Moreover, suburban women, which had been assumed to and had in 2020 voted for Biden turned to Youngkin. And the new electoral college counts result in more weight to Republican states.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Just a wretched campaign. Totally nonexistent except for negative ads that were poorly produced. I figure Buttigieg’s pals grabbed every cent they could find. The mailers as such as they were came in late and were ugly. Voter registration? Nada.

        The only thing missing from the usual Clinton effort was not understanding delegate allocation or the electoral college and misusing resources, but there wasn’t an opportunity for that. I wouldn’t be surprised if they pulled resources from the I-95 area in Richmond that cost them the House of Delegates.

        1. Joe Well

          But isn’t that wretched campaigning pretty much the Dem standard nationwide? Meaning they are still going to lose a lot of races.

          1. NotTimothyGeithner

            Yeah, but Virginia was in the demographics of destiny with Georgia and North Carolina. Virginia was the only one they seemed to succeed, and with the federal workers, they might be out of reach in a general election.

            Team Blue won in Georgia when they worked at it despute one cycle of work, so the demographic potential is there. North Carolina before they dismantled the 50 state strategy was on its way. Then kaboom.

            The thing is Team Blue has been so bad for so long there aren’t that many places to lose left or they would have lost already. Tester has his problems, but he hits the pavement or cow paths. He won’t simply lose the way a McCaskill will because he won’t spend his time auditioning for msdnc.

            The GOP is a rancid brand, there is no need to be negative, and the results in Virginia indicate they just did a good job of getting GOP federal only voters to vote, specifically GOP moms. Spannberger is gone for sure, but pulling away, there aren’t that many places to lose. And the next Senate map, the GOP ran rampant in 2016 already, holding seats they shouldn’t.

            Then the GOP is gerrymandering, but they audit really making their seats weaker to theoretically gain seats. Gerrymandering is a two edge sword especially with a rancid brand.

      2. Eric377

        It is not how McAuliffe lost that interests me, but that when they sensed possible trouble, Democrats tried to loosen the mail-in rules. That’s of great interest to them clearly, and if omicron in Dec 2021 and Jan/Feb 2022 end up getting lots of states back on the mail-in train, they’ll be happy.

    2. Carolinian

      Democrats do believe expansive voting outside of voting booths helps them.

      So Trump was right? The argument against what Trump did after the election is not that Democrats never commit election fraud (Chicago over the years, hello…) but that the popular vote margin made it unlikely it would have been enough to change Biden’s popular vote win. Trump’s argument that he was cheated out of an electoral college win leaves some of us unmoved given the vast chaos that would have followed court rulings in his favor. That said the public may be having buyers remorse since Trump now leads Biden in rematch polls. Here’s betting the Dem loss next year will be great enough so that voting method tweaks won’t matter.

      And re the CMS mandate hold, perhaps now the nurses who have been picketing our local hospital can come in out of the cold.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Virginia adopted early voting, but it think the Team Blue approach was to get people who didn’t have any obstacles to voting such as changing addresses and moving polling locations to vote early to keep them out of lines, not reaching out to non voters or keeping track of sometimes voters.

        The early vote numbers sounded great for Team Blue, but their approach was getting the choir to attend. They didn’t move beyond the choir. Until Youngkin, the last set of Republicans on too of the ballot were Trump, Cuccinelli and Corey Stewart and in another category Ed Gillespie. Winning was too easy, and so they accepted they couldn’t lose.

        The quest for suburban wine mom’s and Biden dad’s led to diminishing returns as black numbers returned to norms and Hispanic voters didn’t materialize the way they expected. Then completely abandoning rural areas means, there wasn’t a reason for sometimes voters to vote. No one asked them to.

        1. Mark Gisleson

          Preaching to the choir is the Democrats worst sin but a predictable characteristic of crony politics and sycophantic campaign hires. Instead of reaching out for votes, they work the rooms that will give them standing ovations no matter what.

          No one wants to deliver bad news, no one wants the blowback of hosting a mixed venue with undecided voters who might not clap loud enough. Candidates can work hard but not move the polls because they’re simply solidifying the votes they already had.

          Very much like Wisconsin in 2016 when HRC refused to go anywhere in the state unless a packed house of supporters were waiting for Her. No Madison or rural areas because someone might boo.

          This is literally the exact opposite of what good campaigns do, but they pushed all the real experts out the door for speaking out of turn.

          For five years I’ve been bathing in so much schadenfreude I look like prune (and not a happy prune).

      2. marym

        IL voter here. We seem to be doing ok.

        In the last 10 years, there have been 9 million ballots cast, [Chicago Board of Election Commissioners spokesman James] Allen said, and only 10 of them were referred to the State’s Attorney’s Office for suspicious activity. None of that resulted in the change of any election outcome, he said.

        1. Carolinian

          Well I did say ‘over the years.’ Then there’s New Jersey and “walking around money.”

          The Dems would probably counter that they are just compensating for Republican gerrymandering and the built in small state bias of the system. Perhaps the big picture is that American elections have always been an imprecise thing and close elections should not be treated as though they are a landslide. The system was really built to get people to compromise as they did when they created it.

        2. lyman alpha blob

          Here’s a scenario – the voting rolls have not been updated and a ballot gets mailed to an address that the voter doesn’t live at anymore. But someone lives there and that person fills out the ballot and returns it. How would anybody know it was not the person on the voter rolls who cast the ballot? Maybe there is some way, but I’ve always voted in person myself.

          Also, the US mail isn’t the most reliable these days to begin with and “let’s go Brandon” doesn’t seem to be in any hurry to replace Trump’s postmaster.

          I do think it would be very difficult to commit widespread voter fraud with mail in ballots, the same as it is with voting on person. But I also think there is a lot more margin for error with mail in ballots as opposed to in-person voting. My in-person vote can’t get lost in the mail due to a crapified postal service for one thing.

          1. marym

            Only a few states send ballots to voters on a “permanent absentee voter list.” Most states require an application for an absentee ballot. When the ballot is received, the signature on the envelope, and in some cases other information, is verified.


          2. rowlf

            I’d be more confident of mailed in ballots if I got a “Thank you for voting” confirmation email, text or postcard.

            Now if I got 3 or 5 or so confirmations…

              1. rowlf

                I like that. My big worry is we have government departments that muck with foreign elections, why wouldn’t they be tempted to operate domestically if it served their purposes? We also have political parties that try to game anything they can.

                Keep up the good work and seeking the truth.

      3. Eric377

        I don’t think fraud votes are the major issue, but rather wholesale evasion of electioneering laws. Consider Rep. Waters saying that blacks voting for Republicans is betraying the community and add that to obvious efforts to get as many valid ballots executed in the “community” and not at the voting booth. For example, there is a very weak case that the new Georgia laws make it very hard to vote for any qualified Georgian of any race, but doing so away from the voting booth will be harder. This is met with fury by Democrats.

    3. drumlin woodchuckles

      Possible Democratic-leaning voters may also be afraid of gangs of Jonestown Trumpanon goons terrorising ( ” poll-watching” ) them at polling places. They might want mail-in voting to avoid having to deal with the Republicans’ Typhoid MAGA militants interfering with them casting ballots in person.

  2. zagonostra

    Remember the US is an employment-at-will country, so companies could still implement OSHA-type requirements all on their own

    The deadline for showing my vaccine papers to my employer is tomorrow. HR kept sending me emails, I kept ignoring, until just recently. I filled out some exemption documents and emailed back with some snide remarks. I was going to keep ignoring and force them to fire me, but a friend who I admire and who works at a large University received an exemption, his deadline was the 5th of Dec, and I said what the heck might as well fill out the damn documents.

    I’m disappointing in myself because I capitulated to their request. Maybe it is because I was influenced by someone close to me, or maybe because I’m weak and wanted the cup to passeth over. I feel compromised, sullied by submitting to what I believe is an unjustified action/request. I work remotely and have been since pre-cv19 and pose no danger to any of my colleagues. Whether they accept my exemption or not, I will soon find out.

    I don’t begrudge anyone taking a vaccine voluntarily. Many of my friends and family have. But I know what I believe and the conclusions that I’ve arrived at after deeply following this for almost 2 years and from that standpoint, I don’t like any of this. One thing is for sure, I’m not going to forget what the Dems have done. They were dead to me before, but now they are alive, and a clear and present enemy.

    1. XXYY

      I don’t like any of this.

      I am vaccinated myself, but I am opposed to vaccine mandates because I think they are very likely to backfire and further politicize a situation that is already way too political. Asking people to inject something into their body that they are opposed to is a tremendous ask, and people are not going to forget it, even if you eventually bring enough force to bear to get them to do it. The US Government can ill afford to be manufacturing a slew of new enemies among the population at this point.

      It also seems like a terrible slippery slope, instituting a mechanism to deprive people of their livelihood if they don’t accede to government demands. It’s easy to see how this could be extended to other public drug regimens, or even other things like behavioral requirements or loyalty oaths.

      Dangerous waters, I think.

      1. Eric377

        My view is not to worry that mandates might politicize this more because the most reasonable way to think of them is as deliberately political. Biden’s rhetoric clearly was aimed at dividing the country….feature, not bug.

    2. JBird4049

      >>>I’m disappointing in myself because I capitulated to their request.

      Please don’t be too hard on yourself. We all need food, clothing, and housing, which does require an income. And if someone is telling you to do this or else it’s goodbye… well, this is like one of the reasons, besides greed, that having healthcare is contingent on having a job, usually one requiring a college, here in the Land of the Free and Home of the Brave, is control. Only now, you have to have the medical “care” that they decide you need. Not what you can afford to pay for.

      Can’t have the peons thinking that they are people who have any of those pesky rights like healthcare, or housing, a life, or anything like fair treatment without groveling to their lords and masters after all.

  3. Winston S

    Omicron is estimated on a preliminary basis to be 500 times as contagious as Delta

    This should be 500%, no?

    Other than that little nit pick, good, if depressing summary of where we are.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Sorry! I had version control issues (I wound up having 2 copies of the post open at once because I added the WSJ treatment breaking news and corrected that on the one that was not the launch version). Gah. A bad look. Corrected.

    2. GM

      It’s also not a case of “X% as contagious”

      It has 500% transmission advantage in South Africa.

      Most of that is probably due to immune evasion rather than raw transmissibility increase

      1. marku52

        Yes I read that over at Travis Bedford’s twitter. Interesting, I hadn’t thought of that possibility. Perhaps Omi is not as transmittive as Delta. We won’t know until more population data comes in.

        In the mean time, where is my St. Fauci Votive Candle? I want to stick voodoo pins in it.

    3. juliania

      Do we yet know how virulent it is besides being contagious? I mean, colds are extremely contagious. (Inquiring for a friend)

      1. jimmy cc

        well the whole point of gbd was to obtain herd immunity while protecting the vulnerable.

        since herd immunity doesnt exist, it in no way will work.

        so the so called reasonable alternative is also doomed for failure.

        i am credentialed as f#ck, although not a PhD.

        at the end of the day, you still have to be right regardless of how many letterz after ykur name.

  4. Mikel

    Getting a shot every six months is not “”normal’.
    People really are not thinking clearly.

    I’d rather wear a mask for the rest of my life than get injected with anything every six months.

      1. Tony Wright

        Agreed. However the cumulative and long term adverse health effects of all Covid19 variants so far are known (Omicron not yet known) , and they include increased graveyard occupancy, very rapidly in many countries.
        These Covid19 vaccines are not perfect, and their distribution is obviously compromised by politics and the profit motive, but so far they are the least worst option available.

    1. XXYY

      Also, mass producing and distributing vaccines to a gigantic population on a continuous basis requires extremely high functioning technology, manufacturing, supply chain, and healthcare infrastructure. None of these things can be taken for granted at this point, and some seem to be going downhill rapidly.

      We need to evolve more low-tech and permanent solutions to this pandemic.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        The government’s low-tech and permanent solution to this pandemic is to Jackpot all the vulnerable and the badly-affected, and let the immune and not-badly-affected survive.

    1. T_Reg

      Paxlovid, but I’m just calling it Pfizermectin. No doubt it will be 1/10th as effective as the original, at only 500 times the price.

      Why didn’t they just call it Paxcovid? Either way, I’m reminded of the movie Serenity. “It was the Pax”.

  5. Tom Stone

    500% more contagious than Delta.
    Perhaps different enough that one can contract both Delta and the big O at the same time.
    Reduced effectiveness of masking.
    No immunity from prior infection or vaccines.
    Insufficient data on morbidity and mortality to make a judgement ,however 500X more contagious indicates it’s a good time to go long reefer trucks.

    It’s not going to be easy to spin that many dead bodies.

    1. SOMK

      Came across an interesting counter argument to Omicron being more transmissible than Delta boils down to examining signs that this variant could be a weaker one that is merely exploiting an evolutionary niche, “Omicron lacks so many of the non-spike mutations that have seemed to contribute to Delta’s increased fitness… …given high levels of population immunity to the original strain, partial immune escape can cause more rapid spread than increased intrinsic transmissibility” quoting a reply by Prof. Balloux, of University College London that parses said thread: “It is also my hunch that omicron might be less ‘intrinsically transmissible’ than delta. In a way, it could be anticipated that there would eventually be ‘evolutionary space’ for such a variant.”

        1. drsteve0

          Seriously, I’m blanking on ‘GBD’. I did google it and came up with genetic brain disease and golden, brown and delicious. Anyone?

          1. Basil Pesto

            “Great Barrington Declaration”, which refers to a collective of loudmouths who advocate ultra laissez-faire non-response to Covid

            1. flora

              Sorry, no. A Harvard, Stanford, and Oxford group of PhD research scientists isn’t a collective of loudmouths. They have a reasoned argument. You can disagree with their argument, but it’s grounded in science and reason. (Science isn’t monolith and isn’t a fixed and finished product, aka The Science.)

              1. GM

                Well, that was precisely the idea behind the trick being played.

                Have people from name-brand institutions support the idea so that it looks respectable and gets traction and cover up its real purpose.

                And you just fell for it.

                1. William Hunter Duncan

                  Speaking of a trick being played, a local news source is saying this variant was first reported on the 24th. I know for a fact you were talking about it on the 19th, and I seem to recall, quite a bit earlier than that. I’m trying to counteract some official disinformation. Thanks.

                2. flora

                  You missed the point. I think it’s incorrect to dismiss people accomplished in the relevant discipline whose arguments one disagrees with as a mere “collection of loudmouths.” Disagree with their arguments by all means, but smears attack the person, not their arguments.

                  1. Basil Pesto

                    No, you’ve rather changed the subject. I wasn’t critiquing the GBD argument, which I considered redundant as it has by now been utterly discredited anyway, surely. I was giving my own personal, admittedly subjective definition of GBD in response to drsteve’s incomprehension. If I were to say off-handedly elsewhere, say, “Barack Obama is a wanker”, I should hope I wouldn’t be expected to present a full inventory of reasons by way of explanation, because that would take quite some time.

                    And, semantically, one can be both a loudmouth and have a well-reasoned argument, so my epithet didn’t speak to the quality of their reasoning in the first place. The GBDists lack such quality reasoning – or even honest or honourable reasoning – which makes them even more shabby and egregious.

                    “an ultra laissez-faire non-response” was the remark that spoke to what they’re about, and I don’t see how this is contestable. They are diabolical, as far as I’m concerned.

              2. jimmy cc

                Harvard, Stanford and Oxford….

                What do the PhDs from countries like China, New Zeeland or South Korea have to say?

                If you want to figure out what steps that are needed to combat the virus, I would look to places that have had a better result from operations combating the virus then any English speaking country.

                We are a bunch of dumbfounded dipsh!ts that spent crucial months trying to figure out if it was a hoax or not.

                And ‘nothing will fundamentally change.” with Biden in charge.

                We have become a society that can’t act collectively, and we will pay a price for that.

                I can’t help but noticing that the people who told me for 4 decades that there is no such thing as Society, wanted me to go and increase the risk to my health for something called the ‘Economy”‘

                1. Eric377

                  But it still has important hoax-like qualities associated. Child vaccination mandates in California as one example.

              3. Basil Pesto

                it wasn’t grounded in science, it was an all-encompassing policy response programme predicated on a premature and – unsurprisingly – incorrect hypothesis. Don’t try and tell me that’s scientific, or reasonable. In fact, it was and remains grotesquely irresponsible. Mix science with politics, which was the raison d’être of GBD, and what you get is politics – a particularly disgusting brand of it in the loudmouths’ case. With that in mind, I will continue to have no compunction in calling them a gaggle of loudmouth pricks, or worse for that matter. NC readers and writers attack credentialed loudmouths on a regular basis, and deservedly so. Perhaps you’ve heard of Larry Summers? No doubt he fancies himself as “accomplished in the relevant disciplines” too.

            2. drsteve0

              Thank you BP, got it, duh, senior moment. That GBD I’m familiar with, an erudite version of let ‘er rip. In my desperation to determine the definition I actually turned to the urban dictionary, shan’t sully this esteemed site with their interpretation.

        2. Badbisco

          Curious why you say this, anything in particular? Using the term charlatan without critiquing his argument could be seen as ad hominem

          1. jimmy cc

            well the whole point of gbd was to obtain herd immunity while protecting the vulnerable.

            since herd immunity doesnt exist, it in no way will work.

            so the so called reasonable alternative is doomed for failure same as an all vaccine policy.

            i am credentialed as f#ck, although not a PhD.

            at the end of the day, you still have to be right regardless of how many letters after your name.

            1. Yves Smith Post author

              And you can’t “protect the vulnerable” either. Old people are cared for by young health care workers, nursing home staff, and family members. Ditto the immunocompromised.

  6. NotTimothyGeithner

    “I believe that the vaccine”

    There it is. We need to pray more to our Lord and savior, Fauci. Praise him.

  7. Martin Oline

    Thanks for this analysis amd summation. I (and others) do not allow ads on (our) browsers and do not have access to many of the sites you routinely link to. We are dependent on you to keep us informed about the information available from sites that would otherwise be closed to us.
    I hope this subject (Omnicron) is regularly updated so it always appears in the top area of the home page.

  8. Arizona Slim

    I predicted that the mandate would collapse by Christmas. Looks like I am a month ahead of schedule.

    1. polar donkey

      NBA arena here in Memphis dumped its vaccine mandate 10 days ago. 30-40% decline in attendance along with revenue drops made them not care so much about public health.

    2. Pat

      I was four months behind. Kudos.

      Sad that we could see this and the “adults” couldn’t or rather wouldn’t.

      1. Arizona Slim

        I’m going to make another bold prediction: Within 6 months, the Great Panic of 2020-21 will be ancient history. As in, people will have moved on. Cue up the Roaring Twenties party playlist.

        In other countries, COVID has already been declared endemic. ISTR that Norway recently joined this list. The USA will probably join it next spring.

        What will happen to dear, sweet COVID? It will join the ranks of diseases like the plague, yes, that plague. Still very much with us, but, with early detection and treatment, it is quite survivable.

    3. Eric377

      I would not be so sure really. As effective policy it isn’t working, but as tribal signaling it may still have utility and this is at least 75% about politics from the administration. I feel confident that emissaries are getting the message out to all kinds of entities that not following through on the mandates just because the courts are ruling against them is going to be viewed as very unfriendly. How effective that might be is an open question, of course, but recall that their substitute spokeswoman said almost exactly that a few weeks back with the 5th circuit stayed the OSHA mandate. People are going to continue to lose their employment and won’t get them back into the next year I feel confident, even if much of the country thinks otherwise.

  9. Bob


    Of course the new covid variant is coming and is very likely here in the US already.

    That said it is important to remember that giant steps have been taken in the rapid development of not one but three vaccines for the Delta variant. This happened in record time and the distribution while somewhat flawed has been quite rapid.

    The knowledge base for developing a vaccine or other pandemic controls exists, the distribution system is understood, and the method of transmission is better understood.

    While it will take time, this is not a matter of shooting in the dark at unknown targets which is where things were at the beginning of the pandemic. ..

    1. tegnost

      this is not a matter of shooting in the dark at unknown targets

      Not true.
      The pharmas had their mrna tech sitting on a shelf waiting for just this moment, and they haven’t worked that great. OK, but not great
      The method of transmission is aerosol…who is admitting that?
      Also citation on 3 delta specific vaxes, I guess I haven’t been keeping track

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Bob is fine. He has faith in our distribution system and effectiveness of new vaccines. Then people will be great and less obnoxious than before, and despite masks and other mitigation efforts going away, they will simply come back. Praise Fauci and show off your big American smile!

        I think the Moderna vaccine was modeled in January 2020, so that means large scale distribution of Moderna hit in February of 2020, partially because of storage mechanisms. Even if we halve the time line, that means large scale distribution won’t hit until the end of May given early reports of how different this is.

        Being optimistic about early 2022, we still have Christmas, New Years, and Tet too look forward to before any roll out happensalong with schools being open and a host of other normal activities.

        We aren’t taking measures to actually mitigate, meaning every out break and variant is a crisis.

    2. Joe Well

      >>the rapid development of not one but three vaccines for the Delta variant. This happened in record time and the distribution while somewhat flawed has been quite rapid.

      Wow! Where? By whom? Link?

      1. Bob

        Try this –

        The point being that other serious pandemic type sicknesses took years if not decades to understand, isolate, develop a program of containment, a vaccine and to develop medical treatment.

        This is not to say that our dear government, heath care system, public health system, manufacturing sector (remember the shortages of PPE and respirators) cannot do better. Nor to forget that there are those that seek profit above all else. And to remember that each death that could be prevented is a tragedy.

        That said the virus is identified, the means of transmission is somewhat established, and a method to produce a vaccine is understood.
        Is the present response perfect? No
        Can we expect our government to do better? Maybe
        Will more folks die? Yes

        However, in revisiting other pandemics the path to the resolution of this pandemic is much clearer that of past pandemics. .

        1. Basil Pesto

          However, in revisiting other pandemics the path to the resolution of this pandemic is much clearer that of past pandemics. .

          What is it?

        2. Joe Well

          Your link is from July *2020* waaaay before the Delta variant.

          I repeat my question: where are these vaccines tailored to the Delta variant?

  10. William Hunter Duncan

    Ireland has a 90% vac rate, they have boosted 1/6 of the population, they have a population about half a million less than Minnesota, Minnesota has a 70% vaccinated rate, and our daily case numbers and deaths are almost identical at around 5000 per day and 44 deaths. That should not be possible if the vaccines were anything like as effective as they have been sold.

    I did some research last night, because some liberals were telling me that the vaccine reduced transmission by 70%, that it is near impossible for the vaccinated to spread it, with some very confident detail about why, and I was pretty sure they were making it up. When I look at the FDA, CDC, the Mayo, MN Health Dept, they all readily admit that the vaccinated can get it and spread it, without any seeming care whatever to know what that means, all of them and especially the Mayo telling the vaccinated they can proceed with life pretty much as normal.

    It is like Public Health does not even exist anymore, as a concept. With this new variant, it feels like, oh well, it is going to go global, there is nothing we can do. It is almost like they want it to spread. If it evades the vaccines then, I suppose that is their out, for having put every single egg into the one basket of vaccines that don’t prevent transmission. But isn’t the whole point of stopping a pandemic, to prevent it from spreading?

    1. Jason Boxman

      Exactly. When the CDC said the vaccinated didn’t need to wear masks, I knew we were all screwed. Denigrating an inexpensive, effective approach to controlling spread is just completely insane, public health malpractice. But “mission accomplished”, I guess.

      1. Eric377

        To me that May announcement was more of a calculated gamble than a huge error. The biggest error I think was that they thought the unvaccinated were paying a lot of attention to masking recommendations. Out of touch, I would say, thinking that the unvaccinated would rush to get the vaccine to get rid of the masks that they were not really wearing much in any case. But the vaccines were pretty effective at what they could do and unmasking to boost uptake 15% or so was a reasonable concept that did not prosper.

    2. Carolinian

      The establishment and big media want to turn health science into politics because politics is what they’ve spent decades learning how to control and manipulate. And these days healthcare is about big money so there’s a pot o gold at the end of this particular rainbow.

      1. mistah charley, ph.d.

        My superficial understanding of the main message RFK Jr’s book on Fauci is that he has been completely corrupted by that “pot o gold”. I hope RFK Jr is wrong about that, as I am pretty sure he is wrong about childhood vaccinations causing autism, but I really don’t know. Sometimes it’s hard to know what the right answers are. Sometimes it’s hard to formulate the right questions.

        1. William Hunter Duncan

          Every word he published in that book could be true, and the whole of it will be treated by legacy Media as misinformation, the ravings of a madman antivaxxer, and disappeared like the Hunter Biden laptop, or at best explained away like the collapse of Russiagate.

          Of course it is possible for him to be entirely wrong about autism, and entirely right about Fauci and Public Health. Best to not get caught up in mass movement delusions and keep your senses.

    3. Joe Well

      IIRC, Ireland like the rest of Europe, has a relatively low percentage of people vaccinated with Moderna, which performs better especially after several months.

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        No, it was J&J that claimed that its protection strengthened for some unspecified time after the shot, and that’s proven to be not true.

        As the post itself points out, it was Moderna that publicized that its immunity wanes before any other drug maker did (although that should have been obvious since immunity to coronaviruses is not durable).

        Having said that, a large VA study (note male skewed sample) did show that Moderna’s protection held up best over time. But Astra Zeneca is not in that sample. As far as I can tell, Moderna is about 38% of total US vaccinations.

    4. TBellT

      What data source are you looking at for Ireland? When I look at the data on 91 divoc it looks like Ireland doesn’t update every day. If I use the average, the death rate for Ireland is in the 6-10 range, and Minnesota is in the 25-30 range.

      1. William Hunter Duncan

        The site for Ireland is posting a whopping 14.3% test positivity rate, while MN is reporting 10.5%. It is beyond my pay grade to assess the differences in how they come about their numbers, but both sites appear to be updated daily.

        But I am in error. Ireland is reporting deaths by the week, not daily. MN is reporting as many deaths daily as Ireland is reporting in a week. Daily cases are about the same though.

        1. bradford

          Also of interest is the Minnesota breakthrough case data

          updated weekly, which among other things breaks down by age and cases/hospitalization/death. Interpretation is of course messy, but it looks as the narrative that vaccination is helpful against cases, and very helpful against hospitalization and death, seems to hold up even in the (delta-era) recent month.
          Here “helpful” is about a factor of three, and “very helpful” is about a factor of 10 in population rates for vax/unvax. The section that I looked at was from October.

          1. William Hunter Duncan

            I have been following those numbers since they first started reporting them. It does give the appearance that the vaccines are in fact preventative of serious illness and death. However,
            I know the breakthrough case total would be much higher, as there is no randomized testing of the population; and curiously, they make very little of the 655 breakthrough deaths that have occurred just in the last 3-4mths which is 7% of the total MN covid deaths since the pandemic started nearly 2 years ago. Extrapolating that number over nearly two years, it would be 30-45% of unvaccinated deaths, so maybe not quite the protection they make it out to be?

            1. LDL&Statistics

              Moreover, have a gander at Vermont! Highly vaccinated state yet they seeing the highest number of cases thus far and hospitalizations running at higher levels than this time last year. it is hard to imagine that is all due to the unvaccinated.

    5. Nikkikat

      I agree with you William, it seems that they want it to spread. I think it’s making Fauci and members of congress very rich as well as big Pharma. Capitalism rules. There is also the mandate. Most likely as usual they are unable and unwilling to ever admit they are wrong about anything.

      1. William Hunter Duncan

        If it is true that Fauci owns something like a thousand patents, and some of those patents are related to the Moderna vaccine, he needs to answer for that. As for the rest of Congress, and really anyone in Public Health, who owns Moderna, Phizer or J&J stock, should be stripped of their power and stock. Though I suspect Washington DC and most of the CDC and FDA etc Public Health infrastructure and elite Media would be emptied of leadership.

    6. Anthony Stegman

      Think about the for-profit health care scheme in the US. More people sick from COVID leads to bigger profits. The incentives do not lie with preventative care, but rather with chronic illnesses that can be major revenue drivers for hospitals. Wall Street and private equity love Long COVID.

      1. Arizona Slim

        Not just preventatitve care, but good old fashioned keeping yourself healthy. Y’know, with a proper diet, exercise, and fresh air and sunshine.

        1. William Hunter Duncan

          Yes. Yes. Yes. Self-care will serve far better than big Pharma, big Gov or big Health Care, for most of us.

    7. Robert Hahl

      The beginning of AIDS told in And the Band Played On sounds similar to what we are seeing now. Officials absolutely did not “want it to spread,” but they also did not want to stick their necks out by taking early forceful actions even more. In general, when they do so and a crisis is averted, people say that nothing would have happened anyway and the official had panicked costing unnecessary inconvenience and money. Another problem is that there is usually no system competent to implement a plan. That is embarrassing, not to mention a lot of extra work trying to improvise something. Gov’t is not set up to deal with hard new problems. No, almost any situation calls for a steady hand on the tiller, which means doing nothing until everyone is begging you to do it.

      1. JBird4049

        Aside from the money and inconvenience, there was the embarrassment(of dealing with the icky gays and drug addicts. More importantly, these human beings were not considered worthy of effort. Rather a eugenics program on the sly in my opinion. Seriously, that is what I think. Having “the gay plague” do the work.

        So, we got the embarrassment of living cadavers. Actually, it was enraging. IIRC, when the disease got the more general population, including the upper classes, the jackasses finally started to spend the money. Also the photogenic and the famous make for much more appealing victims; I think it was Rock Hudson that finally really broke open the silence about epidemic. Still, it was only after the avoidable deaths of many, many, many people.

        This is a cause of my anger over COVID. It is a reminder of that past. With HIV/AIDS, just how many hospital patients, hemophiliacs, addicts, children, parents, partners, or even those who made a single bad decision die because it was too much of a hassle for those in the system to deal with a fatal disease, an epidemic of often horrible deaths?

        Only now, it is a money making opportunity. Keeping the epidemic going in the poor countries while developing, then selling, new vaccines and treatments in the wealthy countries. Strictly speaking, it ain’t eugenics, but it is creating suffering and death for mere profit. More, I think as with those at IBM, which made great profit selling and maintaining equipment for the Nazis during the Second World War including the tabulation machines needed for the Holocaust, got away with their crimes, so to will the those in pharma. Although they deserve to be sent to the Hague for their crimes against humanity.

        Of course, with the disease rolling around in much, perhaps most of the world, with the people there getting inadequate, mutation supporting death, it will just keep hitting everywhere there is not an effective quarantine. Sometimes, I want to hate this world.

        1. chris

          A big difference between COVID and AIDS is that doctors and other people were eventually brought to the “we should treat them all” position with AIDS. But with COVID, everyone in charge seems to have adopted the position that those suffering from it deserve what they get.

    8. SES

      On 29 November, Ireland had zero deaths and the seven-day average of new deaths was six. How is this anywhere near 44 in Minnesota? I think you read the latest bar in the weekly, not daily, chart at the Johns Hopkins site, which was 44 in Ireland for the week ending 24 November!

    1. Juanholio


      They wanted the half of the population, who were still worried about COVID, to relax and get back to feeding the economy.

      They did it by convincing them that, “If you get sick and die, it’s your own fault for not taking the vaccine”.

      Judging by the heaving restaurants and bars in this area, it was a very successful public health campaign.

  11. Darius

    This airborne virus demands better ventilation and filtration. There’s little mystery now why winter is the cold and flu season. People are packed into poorly ventilated spaces for long periods. Clear the air and transmission goes down.

  12. Screwball

    I’m sitting in a small classroom giving a test. The ventilation is bad, the room is small. Nobody but me is wearing a mask. One student was called to the office to have his temperature taken because he was around someone who was COVID +. No mask either. That’s all they did – take his temperature and send him back to class.

    The teacher in the next classroom is wearing one because he has been around someone who was COVID +. Other than that, I see very few masks.

    Last year at this time we ALL had to wear masks and temp checks were taken as you came in the door. Now, nothing. This will be my last day as I’m only here for two classes and one semester. I am thrilled this is over today, and I can go home and wait to see if I made it through this semester without getting sick.

    I’m in Ohio. The numbers in our area are not good, the hospital is full. This is nothing short of a horror show, and we haven’t heard the numbers post Thanksgiving yet. We have been failed by our government, our medical industry, our so-called experts, and our schools. What a sad state of affairs.

    1. Carla

      “We have been failed by our government, our medical industry, our so-called experts, and our schools.”

      Maybe they’re not really “ours.”

      One thing for sure is not: “our democracy”.

      1. XXYY

        My wife works in a small stand-alone office with a couple of other people, and I just made a five-sided Corsi for her to install there. Evidently everyone who works there is thrilled at the idea of having it. Who wouldn’t be?

        Materials cost was about $80 for the filters and the fan. You also need about half of roll of duct tape. There are a ton of sites on the internet with good instructions and advice about using them.

        BTW the goal is to get 6 air changes per hour in the room. If you have any HVAC experience, this is a fairly easy calculation.

  13. PKMKII

    The consternation over vaccine mandates for healthcare staff raises a chicken-and-the-egg question: Is apprehension over getting vaccinated threatening a staff shortage? Or does existing staff shortages due to maximized earnings/minimized labor cost policies create a situation in which the slightest wobble in staff levels brings the whole deck of cards down?

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      I don’t the percentages, but in a normal flu season, hospitals expect to reach 90 to 100% capacities. When they go over, it’s usually localized and time limited. At that point, they borrow from neighboring hospitals. Covid was like a bad flu season hitting everywhere. Among the problems was there was no where to borrow from.

      The non flu seasons are simply lighter periods. Throw in corporate greed, and yikes!

      The US already had a shortage in Healthcare workers. Making them pay their way and the cruel way we treat the elderly along with the pittance available to their Healthcare workers is a huge part of the problem.

      With the “Duke Model”, anyone too obstinate or lazy to fill out a form is likely problematic for reasons other than a mandate.

      1. Arizona Slim

        During the 1918-20 flu pandemic, temporary hospitals were a thing. Some of them were even in tents.

        At some flu treatment sites, a very interesting thing happened. The patients who were moved outside — into the fresh air and sunshine — did better than the ones who were kept inside.

        1. outside observer

          Temporary hospitals is also what China put up right quick. Is something wrong with me if I wish we had that kind of expediency and competence in the US? They are starting to look like a textbook model of how to handle a pandemic from where I’m standing. Our short term profit seeking greed is good mentality will end this country. No planning for resiliency whatsoever.

          1. Arizona Slim

            Exactly. Last year, during the height of the first wave of infections, the Tucson City Council approved a measure that would involve using our local convention center as a treatment site.

            Now, if you’ve never been inside the Tucson Convention Center, believe me when I say it’s huge. It could have housed quite a few patients. It never was.

  14. Tom Stone

    I listen to KGO radio while driving to catch the weather and traffic news.
    I don’t always turn it off immediately after the weather report if driving conditions make taking my hands off the wheel risky…so yesterday I heard an MD talking head opining about Omicron and the message was “Get Vaxxed, and there’s NO REASON TO PANIC”

    The official denial arrived PDQ this time around.

  15. orlbucfan

    Isn’t there another variant, Nu or whatever? I sure am sick of the curse of the politicization of a group of contagious diseases that can kill. What I am sure of is I have not contracted any form of this viral family. I mask up, keep my social distance, wash my hands, and am vaccinated plus booster shot. I am very immuno-compromised. I will continue to strictly follow these precautions as I live in Florida, the epitome of Covid stupidity. Enough said!

    1. T_Reg

      They skipped Nu (because it’s pronounced like “the knights who say nu”?), then realized they couldn’t use Xi because it would offend China, so they found thenselves at Omicron. At least, that’s the story I’ve heard.

      1. Skip Intro

        I thought they skipped Nu because of the danger of a ‘Who’s on first’ ensuing:
        Reporter: Tell us about the new variant, does it have a designation?
        Fauci: The variant is Nu
        Reporter: yes it is a new variant, but what do we call the variant
        Fauci: The Nu variant. of course

  16. Reader

    Any opinions on the prospects of a hold on the federal contractor mandate under EO 14042? Arizona has not joined with other states and has a separate suit ongoing against the Biden administration over 14042.

    I have a close friend who is not vaccinated and is set to lose her job in January at a community college in southern arizona that receives federal funding. Unlike the private employee mandate, there is no testing option under 14042.

    She has been working at home since March 2020. In her free time she stays home and on the rare occasions that she must go out she takes all precautions including wearing N95 masks and using PVP-I (thanks Yves). She has watched in dismay as both the Novavax and Covaxin vaccines have been repeatedly delayed.

    1. Tomfoolery

      I work in federal contracting, and was deputized by my small company’s owner to help with compliance on all of this. Not a lawyer, but my sense is that Biden admin is on much firmer legal ground with the contractor mandate, because it is just inserting a clause into existing contracts which is normal executive action, and then this clause pushes enforcement onto the contracting company. I think most of the legal exposure ends up on the company, especially if they just accept the modification that includes the clause. So she shouldn’t get her hopes up for a nationwide legal remedy.

      Because enforcement is pushed onto the company though, companies typically have some discretion in how they handle implementation. I’ve seen a pretty wide range. Some companies were extremely aggressive, firing anyone requesting an exemption as early as possible. Others grant exemptions and accommodations more freely. Typical accommodations would involve work-from-home, or mask wearing, so I think your friend should be fine there, if she can get her exemption approved. And from what I’ve seen, most companies don’t want to decline exemptions as that’s a riskier area (making medical or religious conscience judgments). Enforcement generally comes via declining accommodations, hitting especially those who have to work onsite. IMHO, it would be very hard for the company (college) to say that work-from-home was not a reasonable accommodation.

      FYI, almost all of the contract clauses just reference the site, so you/she can read there for all the details.

      1. Reader

        Thank you so much for this information. I’ll pass it on to her.

        It’s hard to imagine them letting go of a 10-year employee with an impeccable record but we’re in strange times.

        1. Arizona Slim

          Reader, I hope that your close friend is pursuing a wrongful termination suit.

          I mean, come on. Working from home is what that college told people to do. I’m here in Tucson and I know exactly which institution you’re referring to.

          1. Reader

            Hi Slim. Just saw this comment. The whole government response to the pandemic has been kind of surreal but the mandates take it to a whole new level. Thanks again for your support.

            Oh, and I was wrong. She’s worked there almost 13 years.

      2. Reader

        Do you know what kind of attorney she should contact for guidance on how to present her request for an accommodation?


        1. Arizona Slim

          Employment law. And, more specifically, attorneys that deal with wrongful termination from the employee’s side of things.

          Need some names? I’m here in Tucson. Go ahead and hit up the site moderators. They have my permission to furnish you my contact information.

            1. Arizona Slim

              Me again. I’d recommend looking at smaller firms, rather than the big ones with dozens of attorneys. Reason: The big boyz tend to represent other big boyz. As in, employers.

              And don’t just limit your search to Tucson. There are plenty of employment lawyers up Phoenix way, and they’re also worth a look.

              All the best to you and your friend! Win big, Friend of Reader!

    2. Beth Oram

      Hope it works out for her, but why doesn’t she want to take the vaccine? I don’t want to walk into my workplace and sit next to people who took a test 5 days ago. I realize she is not even being allowed to test out. Are we shocked at the abrogation of her FREEDOM?

  17. marku52

    That’s my Dems, always willing to fight to the death over something that is completely meaningless, and ignore anything that would actually help.

    It’s Obama and the Trans Gender Bathrooms all over again.

  18. Noone from Nowheresville

    Send in the virus sniffing dogs.

    I know these highly specialized dogs are expensive but come on, isn’t a full-throttle economy worth it? Or perhaps that’s not really the issue at all?

    Anyway, it’s been over 18 months. Think of how many dogs could’ve been trained and deployed. Certainly if we are truly concerned about the spread of the virus and its variants then the dogs would be more real than vaccine non-masking non-social distancing minimal ventilation theater and the testing of only the unvaccinated in certain workplaces. Plus the dogs could be considered just the first step in a multi-pronged virus attack. For that matter, send in the therapy dogs too.

  19. Basil Pesto

    OzSage – a group of independent non-bootlicker Australian scientists who are generally very astute and humanist re: Covid – are strenuously advocating bringing the vaccine boosters forward, from a six month interval to two. I fail to understand how their quite energetic advocacy on this matter is any less premature than the dissemination of the ‘Omicron is mild’ line that was prevalent here over the weekend, and which they have been suitably quick to admonish.

    Not that I believe that boosters are harmful per se, and there does seem to be some kind of healthful benefit that a third shot confers that goes beyond the benefits of the first two doses. I remain intensely sceptical of their general claim that these are ‘three shot’ vaccines and have been all along. They are until they aren’t, and I am not at all convinced that even a third shot would confer meaningful long-lasting immunity, especially in the face of variants.

    But the idea that this should be a leading strategy in beating a variant that apparently amounts to an almost-novel pathogen makes next to no sense to me.

    The suggestion is better than nothing I guess, but again, we eliminated Covid here before the vaccines were available, and I don’t understand why we don’t remind people of that at every available opportunity. Earlier this year, we were told specifically by politicians and public health officials when delta arrived here (concurrently with the vaccines) that “masks do not work against Delta” – so, naturally, you better vax up. Around that time I was venting in comments here relentlessly in frustration in July/August at this bullshit line because I could tell after spending 5 minutes anywhere in Melbourne that our masking guidance and, consequently, practice was woefully inadequate. Furthermore, “Covid is airborne” was inadequately explained (I’m not sure that all that many Australians fully understand that Covid is airborne to this day). I was so frustrated by what was happening that I even debased myself by sending letters to the editor of major newspapers (unpublished), and one to the Victorian Dept of Health & Human Services.

    OzSage – again, pretty much the good guys, if you want to be reductive about it – are calling their advocated strategy ‘Vaccines Plus”. On the one hand, I understand OzSage wanting to call their suggested approach Vaccines Plus for PR reasons – by putting vaccines front and centre, they can’t suffer the accusation that they’re anti-vax as they try to draw attention to all the other measures that we need to take to defeat this variant. The flipside to this, though, is that considering that vaccines are such a needlessly and stupidly divisive issue, why put them front and centre of the strategy in the first place? Especially when, as we’ve shown, they’re plainly unnecessary to get the job done and have a relatively small part to play – obvious even before Omicron – and in fact have lulled us into a false sense of security, which has been directly and unambiguously harmful to people by dint of leading to a number of Covid patients since June where there were none before; sacrificial lambs for the sake of ‘The Economy’, which is probably now going to tank over the next year anyway.

    Although having said that, I guess all the Covid control strategies are needlessly and stupidly controversial at this point. But the point remains: the public has to be reminded of the success we have achieved together before (just a year ago!), and it has to be stressed to them that the line ‘masks don’t work against delta’ was a deeply cynical, evasive lie (or probably just tell them it was an error and omit my editorialising, which I can’t resist here). I also maintain that the federal government has to procure KN95-or-better mask supply and make arrangements for domestic respirator manufacture, just as it has with vaccines.

    Of course, as I’ve said before, the effectiveness of masking generally, one of our most effective weapons against the virus, is only going to be undermined further when more transmissible new variants come along (such a variant being inevitable in a global population where the virus is allowed to spread unchecked and meaningful quarantine is not a thing: hence, Omicron). By this I mean that with each new more transmissible variant, more people are going to need to wear better masks for longer periods in shared indoor spaces (and the need for masks outdoors might become increased too, if the increased transmissibility means that the risk of outdoor transmission increases). This is not an easy thing to get people to do, or even understand apparently. I don’t like wearing masks and I can’t imagine many other people do either, even before you get to the daft politicisation.

    Needless to say, the government advice remains that the vaccines are fine and we’ll just do the boosters at the normal time and she’ll be right.

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