Almost Half of Spain Is Now Vaccine Passport-Free (At Least for Domestic Uses)

Catalonia becomes the third region in two weeks to drop the digital vaccine certificate. Four regions, including the Community of Madrid, never implemented it for domestic use. 

The regional government of Catalonia, the Generalitat, has stopped using the COVID-19 passport as a means of controlling access to bars, restaurants, gyms and residential homes. Since the arrival of the Omicron variant the certificate is no longer helping to reduce infections, said Patricia Plaja, a government spokesperson. On Friday, the Gereralitat lifted other restrictions such as capacity limitations for public spaces, curfews and limits on the number of people who can gather together. Mask mandates remain in place for now.

For the first time in three months the region’s R0 (R nought) — the basic reproduction ratio that denotes the average number of people a single infected person can be expected to transmit the disease to — is below one. Catalonia is also doing far more testing than any other region of Spain. As El País reported Monday, the north-eastern region accounted for 44% of all the antigen tests done in Spain between January 18-24.

No Longer Fit for Purpose

But the region’s government has called time on the vaccine passport — at least for now. The Generalitat’s Scientific Advisory Committee concluded that the Omicron variant has reached immune escape, meaning that a large part of the population is at risk of catching the virus regardless of whether or not they are fully vaccinated or have had a previous infection. Catalonia is the third region of Spain, after the northern regions of Asturias and Cantabria, to have dropped the digital certificate as a means of limiting access to public spaces and services.

Reinhard Wallmann, the director general of Cantabria’s public health body, said Omicron’s higher contagiousness and the ease with which it evades the protection provided by vaccination meant the vaccine passports no longer served their original purpose — i.e. reducing transmission. But what about one of the other purposes the vaccine passports serve — i.e., to nudge (or coerce) people, especially those in younger age groups, to get a jab?

“You have also to understand that the Green Pass is not necessarily — and that’s not a secret — it’s not necessarily to prevent transmission,” says Cyrille Cohen, the head of Immunology at Bar Ilan University and a member of the advisory committee for vaccines for the Israeli Government. “It’s also to encourage people to get vaccinated. And I don’t want to touch upon the political aspects of the green pass. But this is a reality.”

On those grounds, the vaccine passport has had a degree of success. A peer-reviewed study titled “The Effect of Mandatory COVID-19 Certificates on Vaccine Uptake: Synthetic-control Modeling of Six Countries” found that countries with previously lower-than-average vaccination rates (Israel, France, Italy and Switzerland) saw a surge in vaccinations 20 days before and 40 days after the introduction of vaccine passes. But in countries where the inoculation rates were already quite high, such as Germany, the passes did little to encourage or increase the rates of vaccination.

Like Wallmann, Cohen believes the vaccine passport concept is no longer relevant in the Omicron era and should be phased out. That is already happening in certain regions of Spain. There are now three autonomous communities that have abandoned the vaccine passport for domestic use while another four — Madrid, Catilla y Leon, Castilla la Mancha and Extremadura — never adopted it in the first place. Of the other ten regions that have maintained use of the vaccine passport, some such as Valencia and the Basque Country have extended its use to additional venues.

This is despite growing evidence that vaccine passports may actually be exacerbating rather than reducing transmission of the virus, by propagating a false sense of security among vaccinated people leading many of them to let down their guard. It hardly helped that many governments accompanied their introduction of vaccine passports with a loosening of other public health restrictions, as Belgium did with its so-called Covid Safe Ticket. This led to more contacts and therefore more infections, Belgian microbiologist Emmanuel André told De Morgen.

“[T]he CST led to the opposite of what was expected… because other measures were phased out when it was introduced… Masks, alongside the vaccine and good ventilation, remain one of the most important ways of protecting against the virus. Especially if there is a lot of virus circulating, or if ventilation is inadequate. Especially today, the mask is proportional prevention.”

Limited Impact

In Catalonia, the abandonment of the vaccine passport is likely to have a negligible impact on most people’s daily lives, for the following four reasons:

  1. Vaccine passports were introduced for domestic use in most Spanish regions in December 2021 whereas other EU Member States have been using them domestically for over half a year. This is mainly because Spain’s Supreme Court ruled against its use in August, only to overturn that decision a month later. It then took almost three months for many of Spain’s regional governments to actually adopt legislation allowing them to use the digital documents domestically.
  2. Catalonia’s regional government has not applied the measures in quite such extreme ways as other governments in Europe. For example, it has not used the vaccine passports to deprive non-holders of the right to work, as Italy’s government did in October. Non-holders in Catalonia have also not been banned from all but essential retailers (as in Germany and Italy) or the terraces and other outdoor areas of bars and restaurants (as in France).
  3. Many hospitality businesses and workers in Catalonia (and seemingly in other parts of Spain) have made little attempt to enforce the restrictions. Many bars and restaurants do not check customers’ vaccine passport status against their national ID to prove they are who they claim to be. Others have not even been asking to see vaccine passports before serving customers. Since returning from Mexico three weeks ago I have been able to use the restrooms of a number of bars and restaurants without being asked to show a vaccine passport.
  4. Catalonia has one of the highest vaccination rates in Spain, which in turn has one of the highest vaccination rates in Europe, with over 80% of the population having had at least two vaccines. This was achieved without having to resort to coercion.

Nonetheless, Spain is still registering more than 100,000 cases per day. It is the same story all over Europe, the world’s most vaccinated region on the planet. The EU’s Green Pass has been in use for seven months yet the case counts in most countries are now many orders of magnitude higher than at any time since the pandemic began. Thankfully, deaths are much lower in most places, no doubt in part due to the vaccines. That said, Israel, the first democratic  country to roll out vaccine passports, registered more cases in January 2022 than it did in the whole of 2021. Covid-related hospital admissions and deaths are also rising sharply.

This underscores the biggest problem with the vaccine passport: it doesn’t work. Jonay Ojeda, spokesperson for the Spanish Society of Public Health and Healthcare Administration, told El Mundo: “Scientific evidence tells us that the COVID passport has had very little or no effectiveness in reducing infections, especially with the omicron variant,” adding that the vaccine passport is more of a “gimmick than an effective” tool.

I would argue that it is a heck of a lot more than just a gimmick. In many countries the implementation of vaccine passport systems has radically reconfigured the way society functions, making life all but impossible for a large minority of the population. It has unleashed unprecedented levels of segregation and discrimination while hugely exacerbating divisions within society.

Across the EU we have been asked to give up just about everything that matters — or at least should matter: our privacy; control over our own bodies; basic core freedoms such as the ability to earn a living, to feed our families, to travel within our own countries (or in the case of Italy, within our own towns and cities); to receive an education; to sit at a cafe and have a drink with our friends on an outdoor terrace. We have been asked to trade all that in for a digital certificate that offers zero hope of controlling the spread of COVID-19, let alone vanquishing it.

It is now clear that Omicron is evading the vaccines with effortless ease. While boosters may offer a rapid surge in protection against symptoms, their effect seems to wane extremely quickly, as evidenced by the surging caseloads and hospital admissions in Israel, the most boostered country on the planet. Boosting every few months is not a long-term option anyway since it could end up damaging our immune systems, as both the World Health Organization and the European Medicines Agency have recently warned.

No Plan B 

In other words, as Yves recently argued in her post “Covid Situation Continuing to Develop Not Necessarily to the Officialdom’s Advantage,” our governments have painted themselves into a very dark corner. Having crafted a public health response that revolves almost exclusively around vaccination and the roll out of their accompanying vaccine passports while ignoring just about every other public health policy option available, many governments in the West are suddenly finding they have no plan B now that plan A — getting vaccines into as many arms as possible — is proving to be a lot less effective than originally hoped.

Public health agencies across Europe have effectively lost control of the virus’ spread. In Spain cases soared so high in early January that the country’s diagnostic labs could not keep up with the demand for tests. Many other countries have suffered an acute shortage of testing kits.  Governments are reacting in wildly different ways. While countries like the UK, Denmark and Finland have called time on using vaccine passports domestically (at least for now) as well as bringing to an end many other restrictions (perhaps not so wisely), many countries in the EU, including the three biggest economies, Germany, France and Italy, are doubling down on vaccine passport restrictions.

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  1. Roger Blakely

    I watched a YouTube video yesterday on UnHerd’s channel where Freddy interviewed a Danish government epidemiologist. As of today (2/1/22) the Danish government is lifting all COVID-19 restrictions. At the same time Omicron is generating transmission rates that are higher than ever. This ought to be interesting.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      I saw a twitter thread by a Danish public health researcher explaining the decision. The reasoning seemed to come down the restrictions needed to be lifted now that the public didn’t think restrictions were needed anymore. And the public didn’t think they were needed anymore because the public health authorities told them they were not needed anymore. So they aren’t needed anymore. Or something like that.

      To be fair, hospital admissions are very low in Denmark compared to previous waves, which seems the primary driver behind public policy there. Why this is the case when they seem to be surging in Israel I’ve no idea.

      But anyway, we should be grateful to the Danes for consenting to be guinea pigs to find out just how quickly Omicron can surge back without restrictions, and how many people it can kill or damage. At least, unlike the UK and others, they seem to be keeping proper figures.

      1. Lemmy Caution

        Denmark Covid restrictions lifted despite increase in cases

        “We have an extremely high coverage of adults vaccinated with three doses,” epidemiologist Lone Simonsen of the University of Roskilde told the AFP news agency.
        “With Omicron not being a severe disease for the vaccinated, we believe it is reasonable to lift restrictions,” she said.

        Reuters Tracker:

        Denmark has administered at least 13,089,577 doses of COVID vaccines so far. Assuming every person needs 2 doses, that’s enough to have vaccinated about 112.5% of the country’s population.

        28 (.0050%) of Denmark’s 558,170 active cases are categorized as serious or critical.

      2. Winston S

        To the contrary, Danish hospital C-19 admissions are at the pandemic all time high as of today, (and still rising?). ICU numbers are down though, which I guess is the new metric – at least for a while until that too fails to convey the necessary message. What’s next?

        The acute infection is one thing, which with these omicron variants seem to be less severe than Delta ones, at least for vaccinated (until that wanes too, shortly). But we have no guarantees about the next. The acute infection numbers and immediate impacts seems to be the only thing guiding policy in the West.

        The more worrying thing to me, and one which this let-it rip approach doesn’t take into account at all, is the compounded effects on our immune systems of x amount of reinfections. See the reports coming in on C-19 disturbing T-cell function. What do T-cells do? Kill cancers, among other things. Notwithstanding Long Covid and the dire consequences that may/probably will lead to. Even more worrying is the fact that none of our responsible health care authorities even mention these issues. How long can health care authorities keep going with their faces straight, how long can this charade keep going until grown ups take notice? Are we really this far down the rabbit hole as a society that this isn’t fixable?

        So what we have is a extremely short sighted approach to a fat tail problem. One that I fear and suspect will lead us to a real “Oh shit” moment, a few months and years ahead. Where have we seen this movie before..

        It’s almost poetic that our neoliberal, PMC gaslighted, MBA-ified, commodified, short termist society has such a narrow, short-sighted, cruel and techno-optimist approach to a pandemic.

  2. James E Keenan

    Every time I — a person deeply skeptical of official pronouncements — begin to entertain a glimmer of hope that we might get past the pandemic, I can depend on NC to bring my hopes down to earth. Sigh.

  3. PlutoniumKun

    I think the biggest merit by far of the vaccine passport was reinforcing (especially to young people) the benefits of getting a vaccine. Anecdotally I’ve no doubt it was a major factor in getting the under 40’s to get the jab. By this time, if they aren’t going to get one, a passport won’t change things. And of course we know its unscientific to think that somehow staff and customers are protected by excluding the unvaccinated, especially if those with triple jabs think they are not spreading the virus and so can do what they want.

    1. Gumnut

      What were the benefits to under 40’s without co-morbidities to getting the jab?

      Given the creative accounting on downplaying jab risks and upplaying covid figures I am having a hard time to come up with a definitive net positive. (US & EU adverse event numbers, the excess mortality questions, the negative vax efficacy for omikron for 2x jabbed, that John Campbell reported FOIA from the UK covid deaths that between headline and ‘really only died from covid’ has a 10x discrepancy… to name a few…).

  4. The Rev Kev

    Here in Oz people are supposed to use their mobiles and, using an app, scan a barcode image to make it easier to contact trace people in case there is an infectious outbreak at such a place. But I believe that they are going to do away with them because as they let ‘er rip, what is the point of even attempting contact tracing? But these vaccine passports looked more like an attempt to divide societies and punish vaccine-hesitant people than for an actual public health measure. They belong in a future Pandemic Museum.

    1. Mina

      This is the whole stupidity of the system in most European countries, you have to show a QR code but this is not related to the contact tracing which is made on a voluntary basis and only if we can download and use an app. So why showing a QR code indeed?

  5. Gumnut

    Denmark sitrep:

    – despite having case numbers in excess by >10x compared to last winter’s wave for over a month now, all QR-code, home-office & masking requirements are now gone.

    Some blurbs from the press today ( – the state broadcaster):
    – R = 1 right now, so we are having a ‘stable epidemic’
    – from now on test numbers will be less reliable
    – Mette Frederikson (the state/prime minister) ‘can’t promise on what will happen in autumn regarding further restrictions’

    I feel like I am going mad. Between the triple-threat of the disease, the threat of forced vaccination with side-effect likely experimental pharmaceuticals and the dystopian QR-code surveillance one had a hard time determining which was the most threatening one in the last 2 years. Had nightmares about all 3. To varying degrees and varying times, but solid coverage throughout.

    Whole family had covid a couple of weeks ago (from childcare, the traditional Danish disease vector given how outsourced all & young children are here). Was a mild affair, but given the NC instilled respect for the disease I popped the veterinarian version of the drug that shall not be named (tried to get human IVM a year ago, it is even available against shingles in DK, but as another drug is selected by public health care for shingles = no chance of getting hold if it. EU customs sees off the Indian channels of supply.). Wife didn’t, had same recovery, so who knows how much difference it makes.

    How can one look at Denmark, Portugal and Israel (record cases all around) and push vaccines, never mind mandates? What part of the flat earth memo do I misunderstand?

    A few weeks back there was the 40% excess mortality story on NC. Then the US army/reserve cancer/disease numbers just a few days ago. Then the odd non-covid case spike correlated shape of the excess mortality (select e.g. Denmark, Finland, Germany, Norway, Portugal, Singapore & South Korea) – all starting from negative end of Feb 2021 & then rising till the end of the year with definitely more area above 0 than below (i.e. not just ‘lockdown-delayed’ deaths) & definitely way more than covid numbers in any of those countries. Why isn’t there even a ‘fact check’ to explain that?

    What is my risk of my brain rotting anytime now (having just had covid, likely omikron, but horse-paste early treating it)? I am left with the ministry of truth official narrative, the everything is groovy natural immunity gang & NC ‘your brain is gonna rot’.

    What a mess. But at least 3 options to select on the nightmare shuffle.

    1. Louis Fyne

      There are some studies that suggest that “Long Covid” is correlated with prior infection of the Epstein-Barr virus (mononucleosis).

      No definitive answers though.

        1. Gumnut

          What fraction of previusly EBV infected know this? I’ve got no idea if I ever had it and am fairly medically literate.

          1. Robert Hahl

            The study showing that EBV causes MS, linked here last week, said that 95% of people entering the US Army have been exposed to EBV.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        A colleague of mine who has long covid from the first wave has said that his symptoms are almost identical to that of his mother, who suffered from long term fatigue and other issues with Epstein-Barr before dying of Covid.

      2. ilpalazzo

        This is interesting. I have long covid from my infection last april. I am getting a bit better lately, the feeling of tiredness subsided at last.

        A few years ago when doing tests for other things I was told I have EBV antibodies although I don’t recall being sick with it.

        1. ilpalazzo

          quoting from

          Symptoms of EBV infection can include

          inflamed throat
          swollen lymph nodes in the neck
          enlarged spleen
          swollen liver

          Many people become infected with EBV in childhood. EBV infections in children usually do not cause symptoms, or the symptoms are not distinguishable from other mild, brief childhood illnesses. People who get symptoms from EBV infection, usually teenagers or adults, get better in two to four weeks. However, some people may feel fatigued for several weeks or even months.

          After you get an EBV infection, the virus becomes latent (inactive) in your body. In some cases, the virus may reactivate. This does not always cause symptoms, but people with weakened immune systems are more likely to develop symptoms if EBV reactivates.

          Right after recovery from acute covid I got Oral Herpes and then had inflamed throat and swollen lymph nodes for about six weeks.

          1. Yves Smith

            I had mono at age 32. Horrible. For the first month, the most I could do in a day was walk five minutes to the nearest grocery store, pick up a few things, and walk home. Had to sleep at least 14 hours a day. Then for the next four months, I’d have ten day or so periods of being closer to normal, followed by another longish period of being as fatigued as at the onset.

            Took a full year to be back to my old self.

            1. Anon

              I had mono at age 12. I was sick for 4 months. Could barely get out of bed. My bone marrow was affected. After I recovered, my mother said I was “never the same again”. Previously, I had been an energetic child. But afterwards, I was always tired. My energy level never came back to what it had been before. I got mono again at age 28 when I was in graduate school. I was sick for nearly a year. At the time, ‘the science’ said a person could not get mono twice. Many years later, I have serious neurological problems as well as chronic fatigue. I wonder if Long Covid is going to present similar symptoms?

              1. Yves Smith

                I am so sorry. Mono before adulthood is not supposed to be that bad. It must have been horrible so suffer permanent effects.

                I now suffer from fatigue. In summer 2001, about a dozen years after my mono, with no trigger (no infection, no accident, no bad personal development) in a ten day period I went from needing 6-7 hours of sleep a night to 10. Still need 10. I am fortunately pretty energetic the other 14 hours.

    2. steve

      Covid six weeks ago, typical Omicron cold-like symptoms plus brain fog for want of a better descriptor and I gotta say I’ve still got the brain fog. Numbers and coding are beyond me now, absolutely amazing phenomenon and really unsettling. The Mind is a wonderful thing, and my wiring is being rearranged.

  6. TimD

    My understanding of vaccines is that they prepare the body to fight the virus and reduce its severity. Considering that 75% of the Covid hospitalizations are with the unvaccinated and they make up the minority of the population, the vaccination is working.

    Comparing US daily deaths for the past week, to November of 2021, the numbers have practically doubled – showing that Omicron is not that mild overall. But then again the US double vaccination rate is about 64% compared with Spain’s 80%.

    1. Jeff

      Of those that died, how many had 2 or more comorbidities? Providing data with no context isn’t very helpful.

      1. TimD

        If one were to go to Worldometers and look at deaths per million population, they would see that the US ranks 18 worst – in the world. 18 from the bottom. Surely, people with comorbidities are the first to go; but do Americans, on the whole, have the most comorbidities, or are they just weak in in public health compliance? On the same list Spain is 39th from the bottom.

    2. BlueMoose

      Perhaps that is true in your area, I can’t say. But it is certainly not true everywhere. This below is from an OffGuardian article dated December 2021. If you can’t find it. I can provide the link.

      A few days ago Dr Hillary Jones, whilst being interviewed on Lorraine Kelly, claimed: “90% of people in hospital are unvaccinated”. Similarly, last week, Kevin Maguire claimed on Jeremy Vine’s show that: “The unvaccinated are filling hospital beds, they’re in ICUs taking up precious resources – there are hospital waiting lists going up because there are so many unvaccinated people in hospitals” Television presenters and news headlines across the United Kingdom have commonly referred to hospitals being filled with unvaccinated covid19 patients. As if it could ever be considered evidence of anything, an anonymous “doctor” wrote a piece for The Guardian, which he filled with nameless anecdotal evidence, and emotively headlined: “ICU is full of the unvaccinated – my patience with them is wearing thin.”

      This claim is regularly used as an argument for vaccine mandates, and/or unvaxxed-only lockdowns. But is it true? In a word, no. ICUs are not “full” of unvaccinated covid patients, they’re not even full of covid cases. In fact, they’re not even full at all. As of last week, NHS England’s own bed statistics reported that England has 4330 available critical care beds, of which 894 (21%) are being used by Covid patients, 2608 (60%) non-Covid patients and 828 (19%) were empty. So, England’s critical care beds are not even 90% full, let alone 90% full of unvaccinated covid patients. But let’s be charitable and assume these people misspoke or communicated their point badly. Let’s assume they meant 90% of covid hospitalisations are unvaccinated.

      That, at least, is true right? Wrong. The actual number is 35.4% According to the UK’s Health Security Agency data (page 31 of this document) 6639 patients were admitted to hospital “with Covid” in the weeks 44-47 of this year. Of those 6639, 2355 were unvaccinated. So unvaccinated people do not even make up the majority of Covid cases, let alone the majority of ICU admissions in general.

      … We could also discuss the tiny number of hospital beds available in this country, which has more than halved since the 1980s, whilst the population has exploded in that time.

      1. Arizona Slim

        About those overflowing ICUs: We keep hearing these stories, but here’s one that I heard from a friend.

        Said friend is a commercial interior designer. Last summer, her company was involved in the remodeling of a hospital ICU here in Tucson.

        Because of this project, that ICU was down to one third of its capacity. My friend was appalled that the project was even happening, what with the pandemic and all.

      2. TimD

        The numbers I am using are from Canada. Which has a higher vaccination rate than the US or Britain. When I look a the US numbers for deaths on the CDC site, the daily average which was around 1000 in November and early December is now between 2000 and 2200.

        Britain got Omicron first and its wave could be waning, It could be that hospitalizations are now dropping. I wonder what the hospitalization numbers were during the peak of the wave.

  7. BillS

    In Italy, the Green Pass is mainly used presently by the press and political class as a cudgel to beat anti-vax citizens into compliance. Nobody that I know of has tried to test this policy in the constitutional court, since the denial of livelihood is forbidden by the constitution. IMHO, the Green Pass has outlived its usefulness (it was initially useful to encourage vaccination in the absence of a vaccine mandate), since whether one is vaxxed or not makes no difference in the spread of the virus. Moreover, Green Pass checks are very spotty. Having to show a Green Pass as you enter a bank or a shop is something I have rarely seen. Even the restaurants and bars I’ve been in seem not to care very much.

    People seem to fall into a couple of categories here: the hyper vigilant (masks all the time, no indoor dining, no cinema, etc.) and the “me ne frego” category: I’m vaxxed with my Green Pass, so let’er rip! Nothing in between!

  8. Arizona Slim

    Once again, nary a mention of early treatment or prevention via exercise, nutrition, and keeping a positive mental outlook.

    1. Basil Pesto

      and keeping a positive mental outlook.


      This virus deserves more respect than that, particularly considering the number of people who literally didn’t believe it was a thing it’s offed.

    2. Jeff

      AZ Slim, There’s not enough money in recommending Vitamin D and C, going for a walk everyday and managing stress. Those things couldn’t possibly help our immune systems work better. Just get a jab and Krispy Kreme will kick in a donut.

      The stupidity astounds, but no longer surprises. And don’t you dare question anything from Fauci. He’s the science. Ask him… he’ll tell you.

      Or you can wait for another dog and pony show put on by Walensky, where she will somehow not have any data on Covid exposure induced immunity 2 years into this. She’ll get us the data soon. She promises. Probably a double pinky promise, so you know she means it.

      1. Basil Pesto

        There’s not enough money in recommending Vitamin D and C, going for a walk everyday and managing stress. Those things couldn’t possibly help our immune systems work better.


        The stupidity astounds, but no longer surprises.


  9. Mina

    Thanks for this brilliantly balanced article.
    Isn’t it also that Israel had kept a very low mortality BEFORE it started vaccination? It is not exactly a remote country with little tourism.

  10. Mak

    There has been extensive criticism on this site about the current approach by many/most countries of opening up and trying to live with COVID.

    The trouble is that with all these criticisms there is little alternative being suggested. Eradication of COVID does not seem any more likely than eradication of the flu or the common cold. So what is the end game alternative?

    (I ask as a genuine question rather than rhetorically.)

    1. Grebo

      The alternative is elimination by

      1) Distributing (new, improved) free rapid self-tests to everyone
      2) Mandating everyone to use them at least twice a week and if positive to self-isolate until testing negative two days in a row
      3) Paying people to do that, protecting their jobs and compensating their employers
      4) Keep doing all the other stuff too

      Should take about six weeks.

      1. Basil Pesto

        rapid self tests won’t work I don’t think. Mass PCR testing required. But otherwise, yep.

        Important as well not to conflate eradication and elimination. Eradication won’t be possible for decades if at all. Elimination could be achieved at any point within a couple of months if we decided to, no matter how much we’re told it’s impossible. Would be made easier with updated/improved vaccines.

      2. Mak

        This isn’t significantly different from what was effectively done in Australia and other countries to eradicate COVID in 2021. It is a long slow process with the old less infectious COVID and and almost impossible with omicron.

        And unless you do it simultaneously across the entire world then I’m not sure what you are expecting to achieve.

        1. Basil Pesto

          In 2020. It’s not that long and slow in the context of, yknow, a pandemic with no end in sight. It took us 3 months, but in China has tended to take about 4-6 weeks iirc thanks to their mass pool testing programme, which Australia never adopted.

          The more countries that do it, the easier it becomes, but yes, the whole world is not going to do it at the same time. You build up international peer pressure with a green/yellow/red system of quarantine zones, with green countries allowing largely unrestricted travel amongst themselves (as piloted by Aus/NZ in 2021 until NSW decided to fuck it up). Poorer countries who wish to pursue elimination should be aided with technical resiurces by wealthier countries.

          ‘almost impossible with Omicron’ is a fact-free handwave of learned helplessness, and a self-perpetuating one at that – it was said with Delta even though it was untrue. It’s a statement presented frequently, albeit with precisely no evidence to support it except for “we haven’t stopped it, therefore it can’t be stopped”, a self-deluding sophistry. Omicron is highly transmissible to be sure but possesses no magical powers that prevent us from stopping onward transmission (it is not inherently more transmissible than delta, just has superior immune escape), although yes our dithering and procrastination will make the problem more intractable over time (although hopefully we will get pharmaceutical tools to make the job easier such as an improved vaccine, though there’s every chance again that they’ll be rationalised as an excuse to do nothing, and we’ll repeat the cycle all over again.)

          But I guess we could continue to do nothing, pretend we’re doing something, and telling ourselves there’s nothing else to be done, and hope for the best. Trying to Public Relations our way out of the pandemic is certainly a novel public health strategy. Fingers crossed!

        2. Grebo

          I believe it is significantly different. Frequent self-testing by everyone will catch infections earlier and also catch more asymptomatic infections than just testing sick people. When everyone is doing it R will rapidly be driven below 1, maintain that and eventually every infection chain will hit a dead end.

          The key is getting infectious people out of circulation quickly, and for the sake of the economy back in quickly. PCR tests are not better for this for many reasons.

          It should be done across the world, but stringent controls on travellers would allow it to work country by country.

    2. whatmeworry

      better therapeutics or more widespread use of existing ones.
      better vaccines
      better air quality is frequently mentioned.

  11. Koldmilk

    South Africa has weakened their pandemic restrictions:

    (1) Those who who test positive without symptoms don’t have to isolate; and neither do their contacts if they are asymptomatic.

    (2) In-person teaching at all schools resumes without any social distancing.

    The rationale for these amendments is informed by the proportion of people with immunity to COVID-19 which has risen substantially, exceeding 60-80% in several sero-surveys.

    Wishful thinking which ignores: waning immunity after 3 months; omicron reinfections; other variants.

    The messaging is horrible, “immunity” needs to be replaced by “resistance”.

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