Culture Wars/Current Controversies

Omicron’s explosive growth is a warning sign Inbox

By Daniel Engber The Atlantic

Like it or not, the Omicron variant is already here, and it’s spreading fast. Just how bad will this get?

  • Omicron’s explosive growth is a warning sign. We’re not back to where we were in early 2020, Sarah Zhang writes, but early data hint that the coming wave could be very, very large. If that’s what happens, then millions of unvaccinated and immunocompromised Americans could be at risk of requiring hospitalization.
  • Will our immunity hold up? The first few experiments are coming back with mixed results. As the new variant takes over, “more vaccinated people will probably contract the variant and, even, get sick,” Katherine J. Wu writes. Still, vaccines’ effectiveness against severe disease isn’t likely to suffer more than “a small drop.”
  • Boosters are more important than ever. At this point, they’re more a must-have than a perk, Katie notes. And there’s no reason to delay: You should still be able to get an Omicron-specific injection later on, if necessary.
  • Don’t count on rapid tests to stop a surge. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki was criticized this week for dismissing the idea of sending every American a free rapid COVID testing kit. But Psaki might not be totally off base, the physician Benjamin Mazer argues. It’s true that these tools remain expensive, imperfect, and even harder to find in the United States. But they’re everywhere in Germany and the U.K.—and yet they haven’t seemed to help.

The news in three sentences:

(1) President Joe Biden announced a plan to make the federal government carbon-neutral. (2) The House committee investigating the January 6 attack is advancing contempt proceedings against Mark Meadows, Donald Trump’s former chief of staff. (3) Data show that the number of Americans quitting their job remained near record-high in October.

Today’s Atlantic-approved activity:

Indulge in the uplifting chaos of Arca’s four new Kick albums.

A break from the news:

“It was the best of pelotimes, it was the worst of pelotimes.” Read Amanda Mull on why people put so much stock in Peloton as a pandemic bellwether.

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