Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Nate Jackson: Here We Go Again: Another COVID Variant

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There’s yet another COVID variant on the loose, serving if nothing else as a huge clickbait revenue generator for the media. The president has issued travel bans that he himself would have condemned as racist and xenophobic a few short months ago, and the World Health Organization deliberately avoided “offense” for the Chinese with its variant name. Is it 2021 or what?

Omicron. That’s the name you’re going to be hearing a lot from TV talkingheads in the coming days as they try their best to stoke a little more fear about the coronavirus based on a variant originating in southern Africa. “It seems to spread rapidly,” President Joe Biden helpfully added. That doesn’t make it any different, of course. COVID has spread fairly rapidly since it escaped that Wuhan lab two years ago.

Rapid spread is also not the same as serious and deadly. “There was no immediate indication whether the variant causes more severe disease,” the Associated Press reports. “As with other variants, some infected people display no symptoms.” The head of the South African Medical Association said, “The new Omicron variant of the Coronavirus results in mild disease, without prominent symptoms.”

Nevertheless, Biden reiterated his usual pronouncement: The variant “should make clearer than ever why this pandemic will not end until we have global vaccinations.” Yes, the vaccination rate is low in Africa, but, for example, infected travelers returning to Israel were all vaccinated.

It continues to seem that there’s little rhyme or reason to COVID’s spread or severity. Vaccinated or unvaccinated, masked or unmasked, people still catch it and sometimes die from it. Draconian lockdowns or business as usual, people still catch it. More Americans have died of (or with) COVID during Joe Biden’s presidency than Donald Trump’s, yet only the latter is blamed for killing people.

Speaking of contrasting two presidencies, when Trump issued travel bans, Biden condemned him as racist and xenophobic. It was easy to lob such mendacious charges from his basement in Delaware, but Biden became president only after so grossly politicizing the virus and now he’s … issuing travel bans. There are not yet any reported cases of the Omicron variant in the U.S., so Biden banned travel from eight African countries over the weekend, saying, “I’ve decided that we’re going to be cautious.” His deeply unpopular sidekick Kamala Harris, who likewise accused Trump of “un-American” travel bans “driven by hate,” now insists Biden is just doing what “is necessary.”

And speaking of phony charges of racism, we already mentioned the WHO was careful in naming Omicron so as not to offend the Chinese. That’s because the WHO is working its way through the Greek alphabet with its variant names and skipped a couple of letters to get to Omicron. Those letters were Nu, which is understandable for the audible confusion with “new,” and Xi. The latter, says the WHO, is “a common surname” and it was skipped to “avoid stigma.”

The WHO didn’t skip Mu, which is also a common surname — far common than Xi, in fact. So, is there perhaps someone prominent with the surname Xi? Oh, right. Chinese dictator Xi Jinping.

We don’t wish to make more of this than is necessary, but we Xi what they did there. Puns aside, this reeks of being a political charade just like so much of the response to this accursed pandemic. China released this virus from a lab in Wuhan, and then lied about it in nearly every possible way, including practically commandeering the WHO to help promote the ChiCom party line. The WHO guidelines for names were put in place back in 2015, but name games “to avoid stigmatizing the region,” as the WHO put it this time, seem to be little more than the Chinese puppets at the WHO showing deference to one particular Xi.

We might also suggest that the real reason the variant couldn’t be named Xi is that Xi should already be the name of the original China Virus.

Time will tell whether Omicron is more or less dangerous than the original strain or any other variant. But a few things are a very real danger: more heavy-handed government, deadly lockdowns, and general panic. New York has already declared a state of emergency over a variant that isn’t even here yet. And we’ll bet that continued variants into 2022 will be just the excuse Democrats can exploit to demand more bulk-mail voting in the midterm elections.

“I am somebody who only cares about science and health,” proclaimed Anthony Fauci. People like him are just trying to “save millions of lives.” Therefore, he added, “it’s painful and disturbing” when other people are busy creating “this completely outlandish politicization of it.” Fauci, Biden, and the WHO all need a good look in the mirror.

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