It’s a new schlock horror movie. Or is it?
If it feels as if Sars-Cov-2 is turning into a shlock horror sci-fi comedy, blame the World Health Organisation. The latest ‘scariant’ should have been called Nu but this was considered too confusing, as there’s nothing new about variants in the pandemic playbook. Next up in the Greek alphabet was Xi, but President Xi (who must be obeyed) wasn’t going to have a virus sharing his name. That led inexorably to Omicron, which features in the titles of several low-budget science fiction flicks. The plots sound reasonably plausible compared with everything that has happened over the last eighteen months. An alien arrives from planet Omicron, armed with a virus and a plan to take over the Earth. Like so many others in the biological warfare game, or Big Pharma, he’s not a bad guy, just in it for the money.
In real life, the Omicron variant turned up in Africa. Dr Angelique Coetzee, the chair of the South African Medical Association who reported Omicron’s existence says its main feature is that it is ‘extremely mild’. Confessing that for the moment she was not seriously worried about it, she seemed genuinely puzzled that ‘there’s a whole hype out there’ about the big O.
A whole hype sums up most of the response to Sars-Cov-2. A recent review of evidence relating to the virus suggests one-third of infections remain asymptomatic and about 80 per cent of symptomatic cases mild. So why the headline in the Guardian calling it ‘the new worst ever’ variant?
Perhaps it’s the fact that the first pronouncements in the UK came from Professor Neil Ferguson of Imperial College London, the Tim Flannery of Covid. You don’t have to be Nostradamus to predict that whatever he says is unlikely to bear much resemblance to the facts. Ferguson predicted there would be more than half a million deaths in Britain by August 2020 if it didn’t lock down and 250,000 even if it did. There have been just under 145,000 deaths in the entire pandemic.
Scientists claim to be terrified by Omicron because it has 32 mutations in the spike protein. That might seem worrying to the vaccinated, since their immunity is based on the original Wuhan spike protein, but since all the double-vaccinated travellers have had asymptomatic infections, it hardly seems to be a harbinger of doom.
Omicron is also worrying the panic merchants because of its transmissibility, yet the quick spread of the new variant may be the result of South Africa starting to include the results of rapid antigen tests in its statistics. Even if there is increased transmissibility, rapid infection with a milder variant would confer durable, robust immunity without severe infection – like a vaccine without a hypodermic. That would be good news. Unless you make vaccines for a living.
Moderna chief executive Stephane Bancel predicts ominously that existing vaccines will struggle with Omicron and foresees a ‘material drop’ in their effectiveness. That made Moderna’s share price fall, but Omicron is hardly the only variant evading the virus. Already, UK official statistics show that with the Delta variant cases, the rate of infection in the vaccinated is higher in every age cohort from 30 to 79 years of age reaching more than 2,000 cases per 100,000 people in vaccinated people aged 40 to 49 compared with 933 per 100,000 in the unvaccinated.
Bancel’s proposed solution is to double the booster dose which seems odd. If Omicron is evading the antibodies generated by the vaccines, how will doubling the dose do anything other than increase the supply of antibodies that don’t neutralise the virus? Undeterred, the UK is now offering boosters to the entire population and halving the gap between vaccination and booster from six months to three.
Governments are also vainly trying to limit the spread of the virus with the UK, the US and Australia and many European countries banning travel from southern Africa. If Omicron is even more transmissible than Delta, it looks like closing the stable door after the horse has bolted since the variant has already spread to the UK, Hong Kong, Australia and Belgium.
It also looks hypocritical for President Joe Biden to announce a travel ban, when he was so vocal in denouncing Trump for doing the same thing in 2020.
Yet while the corona kabuki plays on, the real problem is the skyrocketing rate of excess mortality. In the US, excess deaths are up 45 per cent in people aged 25-44, 28 per cent in people aged 45-64, and 22 per cent in people aged 65-74. As previously reported, data from Public Health Scotland shows an increase in excess deaths of up to 40 per cent in people aged under 65 years, an increase in cardiovascular events of up to 118 per cent in people aged 15 to 44 and up to 72 per cent in people aged 45 to 64.
Rather than deny the mounting evidence, the UK Telegraph recently reported ‘Covid a more likely cause of surge in footballers collapsing with heart problems than vaccines, scientists believe’. But in an article published in the journal Circulation in November Dr Stephen Gundry of the International Heart and Lung Institute in the US provided striking evidence that the mRNA vaccines are responsible. He wrote that his group has been using a cardiac test, every three to six months for the last eight years to predict the 5-year risk of a new Acute Coronary Syndrome in their patients and that following injections with the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, there was dramatic increase in inflammatory markers in most patients resulting in an increase of the score from 11 per cent to 25 per cent, and explaining the increased observation of thrombosis, cardiomyopathy, and other vascular events following vaccination.
Dr Aseem Malhotra, a UK consultant cardiologist in the National Health Service says that a whistleblower from a very prestigious British institution told him that researchers there had found something similar but were too frightened of losing funding from the drug industry to publish their findings.
In The Visitor from Planet Omicron, a feisty widow takes on and topples the corrupt aliens trying to use a virus to take over the world.
Unfortunately, even if Omicron turns out to be the mild common cold that Sars-Cov-2 should one day become, there’s no chance of a happy ending for those who have already succumbed to the virus or the vaccine.