Pandemic Politics

Those two words should never be in the same phrase, but here we are. And soon, we may find out if the Omicron variant scrambles current pandemic politics. It’s too soon to tell, but new evidence coming out of South Africa seems to suggest that the latest variant is better at evading immunity acquired from previous infections, and that may have political implications. Via CNN:

Researchers in South Africa reported Thursday they have found some evidence that people who had been infected once with coronavirus were more likely to be reinfected with the Omicron variant than with the Beta or Delta variants.

Josh Marshall discusses the potential implications in a subscriber-only article at TPM, but my takeaway is that things could get interesting fast in the U.S. if it turns out that vaccination provides substantially better immunity against Omicron that natural immunity from prior infections. That seems to be a distinct possibility since there’s evidence vaccines provide better protection against prior variants than previous infection alone, which is why people who’ve recovered from COVID should still get vaccinated.

Wingnuts who have used opposition to Biden admin vaccination mandates to appeal to the Trump cult pretend the antibodies produced by an infection are the equivalent of a vaccine. It’s a point Florida Governor Ron DeSantis brings up repeatedly. (He is also asking the legislature for money to assemble as state militia that reports to him, and his administration just got busted again for manipulating CDC data and lying to the public about transmission rates in the state, but I digress…)

The point is, we may be at an inflection point where people who are unvaccinated are exposed to an even more highly transmissible strain than the previous waves with even less protection if they’ve recovered. It’s too early to tell. But at some point, please dog before the Omega variant, the cynical fuckers like DeSantis and Abbott who brought us to this dangerous place need to be held accountable for their recklessness. They’re the Crumbley parents of governors.

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