Nothing will ever be done


Siouxsie Wiles explains the sneaky shenanigans behind COVID PR. It’s literally PR for the disease.

In late 2020, the WHO started naming Covid-19 variants after letters of the Greek alphabet. Omicron was the letter given to the variant that emerged in late 2021.

Just looking at the data on the cumulative number of confirmed Covid cases worldwide, which we know is an underestimate, I think it’s pretty safe to say that Omicron has probably infected more people in the last year than caught Covid in the first two years of the pandemic put together.

All those Omicron infections mean the virus has also continued to evolve, but so far, the WHO hasn’t given any of the Omicron offshoots a new Greek letter. That’s why the world has been drowning in an alphabet soup of Omicron subvariants, from the BA’s and BJ’s to the BQ’s and XBB’s. I guess if we gave any one of them a new Greek letter, it would spoil the idea that the pandemic is over, and we don’t have to worry about Covid any more.

You’d think the dead bodies would be a clue — China has revealed that they’ve had 60,000 deaths since December — but no, we’re all in denial. A few people are trying to bring attention to an ongoing problem.

Inspired by someone on Twitter who nicknamed BA.2.75 Centaurus, last year Professor Ryan Gregory, a biologist at the University of Guelph in Canada, started compiling a list of nicknames for Omicron subvariants based on mythological creatures. Which is easier to remember? That BJ.1 and BM.1.1.1 combined to form XBB, which evolved into XBB.1, and then XBB.1.5? Or that Argus and Mimas combined to form Gryphon, which evolved into Hippogryph and then into Kraken?

It’s something, I guess, but I feel like tactics to draw the public’s attention to our evolving pandemic aren’t going to be effective if the public simply doesn’t care. The general citizenry is just opposed to taking any action to slow the spread of the disease. No one is asking much — Siouxsie explains what a common sense response would be.

Am I concerned about Kraken? Regular readers will know I take all variants seriously. What concerns me more is that we are no longer working collectively to reduce the spread of Covid.

That doesn’t mean I want us to return to the days of lockdowns. I just want us to use the tools we know to reduce the transmission of not just every variant of Covid so far, but also many other airborne infectious diseases – high-quality masks, clean air and staying home when infectious. We’ll reap the rewards in the long run.

“Masks”? Tyranny!

Comments

  1. robro says

    Perhaps the bodies pilling up in the Peoples Republic of China don’t concern the people here in the ‘Merika…much. I don’t think bodies are piling up here so much, even though there have been a lot of sick people. Anecdotally, lots of my friends have tested positive (9 people at least) and been sick in the last two months, all of them older folks…but no deaths, so far.

    Word of caution about the Paxlovid treatment: One friend has age-related “epilepsy” (seizures) and when he tested positive learned that he can’t take Paxlovid because he would have to go off his other meds. Talked to my 76 year old cousin last night who had COVID recently. She took Paxlovid but had an allergic reaction to it.

    The part of this ongoing saga that’s wearing on me is that I haven’t been to a music jam party since they went indoors in November. Several of the people with positive tests go to those and since it can be a couple of days between infection and onset of symptoms I can’t risk* it. Plus, my partner would be very upset with me if I went to a jam and ended up with COVID.

    Speaking of risks: My cousin’s 101 year old mother passed away in December. They went to a local hospital for a blood draw for a longevity study. The person doing my aunt’s blood draw had her mask fall off for a few minutes. A few days later my aunt had flu symptoms which turned into pneumonia. She died Christmas eve. She did not test positive for COVID; i.e. there are lots of things out to kill old people.

  2. tardigrada says

    I’m reading this waiting at an outdoor bus stop wearing an FFP2 mask. After an 8-hour shift at work – wearing an FFP2 mask.
    Surgical masks are mandatory for another 2 weeks on public transport here. So far, most people stick to FFP2 masks. But I’m not confident that I’ll see many masks from February on. People might surprise me though as about 50% of people are still wearing them in shops more than 6 months after the mandate fell.

  3. wzrd1 says

    Well, Trump lost the election, but won big for his COVID pandemic, ensuring that it is now his enduring legacy.

  4. raven says

    You’d think the dead bodies would be a clue — China has revealed that they’ve had 60,000 deaths since December — but no, we’re all in denial.

    Chinese statistics are completely made up and totally useless.

    They just upped their count because the WHO called them out on it. Before they were up to 10 or some such improbably low number.

    The modeling and estimates are that between 1 million and 1.7 million Chinese will die from Covid-19 virus by April, 2023.
    Most likely we will never get better information that this because the Chinese govenment isn’t even counting their dead any more.
    Which is true of most Third World countries, Russia, and several US states such as Nebraska and Florida.

  5. raven says

    Currently, the dominant variant nationwide is BQ.1.1, with 34% of cases, followed by XBB.1.5, with 28% of cases. “The original omicron variant is gone now,” says Dr. Rupp. “Currently subvariants of omicron are circulating, including BQ.1.1, XBB.1.5, and BQ.1.”

    Worldwide, the up and coming variant seems to be XBB.1.5, which is more transmissable than the original Omicron strain.

    Using Greek letters for the variants was a good idea but we were and are in danger of running out of Greek letters sooner or later.

  6. raven says

    The general citizenry is just opposed to taking any action to slow the spread of the disease.

    It’s not that bad.

    I went to a rock concert on Friday.
    They asked for masks and proof of vaccination.
    I didn’t have a problem with that.
    The turnout was high, the audience was enthusiastic, and the concert was good.

  7. rorschach says

    I’m giving another talk on the current Covid situation to local leaders on Wednesday. I tend to try and hit them over the head with facts and reality in the 20 minutes I have available.
    One of the things I will point out this time is the change from dominance of one variant, the good ol days of wildtype, Alpha, Delta, where infection conveyed some shortlived but detectable immunity, to the Omicron soup mess of variants we have now. These no longer just mutate gradually in 1-3 spots of the spike, but as is the case with XBB, now we have, for the first time, recombinant variants with a growth advantage.
    Ryan Gregory mentioned above, who is one of the most important voices of online Covid information, calls this I paraphrase “no more Covid tsunamis, but rising sea levels with low and high tides”. A very apt description of how the pandemic has changed.

  8. silvrhalide says

    Covid 19 in all its variations and iterations is here to stay. In North America alone, white tailed deer are now considered a virus reservoir. Laotian bats are another reservoir. Basically, this virus jumps species pretty easily (disturbingly easily) and we need to plan accordingly, which no government agency seems to want to do. Yes, it will mean that we will have to redo a lot of infrastructure–at a bare minimum, the HVAC in modern buildings will need to be upgraded for better airflow, greater air turnover and better filtration, but so what? Side benefits will include fewer asthma and allergy sufferers and overall cleaner air. Fixing infrastructure to reduce/minimize exposure/infection/risk is not the big impossible.

  9. says

    A member of our org. serously needed to go to the dentist. They have numerous ‘risk factors’. The dental office had turned off all the HEPA filter units, removed the plastic shield at the receptionist desk and only one person was wearing a mask and said they were wearing it just to help protect our member. Too many people either don’t care who dies or they are just following the main stream media’s irresponsibility and are being ‘oblivious sheople’. We are risk averse (some would say cowards, so be it). But, we still fear having to live in, and maybe be murdered by, a society overrun by these dangerous sheople, let alone the conspiracy theory pushing aggressive anti-vaxxer imbeciles.

  10. nomdeplume says

    Republican morons like Kristi Noem saying “We’ve got Republican governors across this country pretending they didn’t shut down their states—that they didn’t close their beaches, that they didn’t mandate masks, that they didn’t need to issue shelter-in-place [orders]”. That is, criticising even the small amount of effort Republican governors made. So the new test for running for president as a Republican is to ensure as many Americans as possible die from Covid.

  11. says

    By the way, everyone in our org. wears KN95 or N95 masks (and will continue to do so) whenever they leave home or one of our safe workplaces.

  12. chrislawson says

    rorschach@7–

    I agree that we’re at the stage of “rising sea levels, not tsunamis” but all it takes is a nasty new strain and we could be back at tsunami level again, this time with a population that has been repeatedly misled by our political leaders into believing lockdowns will never, ever be on the cards again and will therefore be even more resistant to simple measures in future.

    Example: in the Australian T20 cricket this year, they’ve allowed players to take the field while actively unwell with COVID. This is how stupid it has gotten. We’re now disregarding basic workplace safety — intensive exercise while unwell with a virus can lead to pericarditis and cardiomyopathy — and yet because the country is deemed to be “over COVID”, professional sports bodies are now ignoring simple health measures that should apply even to non-COVID viral illnesses. And for what? So one player out of a team’s roster of 19 won’t miss one, maybe two, matches.

  13. kome says

    “return to the days of lockdowns”? What lockdowns? The United States didn’t lock down. Like, at all. That’s the major contributor to why over 1.1 million Americans have died from this disease.

    Can we stop letting right-wingers get to define the narrative of everything? We never locked down for COVID. That’s an absolute lie. There were attempts at closing certain things down, but those efforts were arbitrary and inconsistently enforced.

    It’s really dumb how people who aren’t in the grips of conservative detachment from reality readily accept conservative framings and rhetoric.

  14. chrislawson says

    kome@13–

    The linked article is by Suzie Wiles from New Zealand, where they definitely had lockdowns.

  15. chrislawson says

    To be fair to the WHO, they do say their naming scheme is based on amino acid variations (i.e. new mutations). https://www.who.int/activities/tracking-SARS-CoV-2-variants although the page is a little light on details.

    How many mutations before a strain gets a new greek letter? Or is it based on biological impact? The current definition is a “variant of interest” or a ‘variant of concern”. Maybe it’s better we don’t have a hard-coded naming system. Not sure what would work best, although I doubt that any naming system would help with the political shenanigans.

    One of the reasons WHO adopted this system was reported in Nature as “a more user-friendly alternative and designed to reduce the geographical stigma and discrimination that can come from associating a virus with a place.” Which speaks volumes because the current longstanding naming system for flu variants starts with the city/location it was first identified. In other words, the very need for this nongeographic naming system shows that the COVID pandemic has been exploited by racists and nationalists.

  16. unclefrogy says

    It’s really dumb how people who aren’t in the grips of conservative detachment from reality readily accept conservative framings and rhetoric.

  17. unclefrogy says

    well it did post I wanted to preview however
    my response
    “is on every occasion more often then not”

  18. kome says

    @14

    That’s fair. I didn’t do diligence about that before I posted. Thanks for pointing that out to me.

  19. rorschach says

    chrislawson @12,

    “Example: in the Australian T20 cricket this year, they’ve allowed players to take the field while actively unwell with COVID. This is how stupid it has gotten.”

    Luke Renshaw, yes. But they have adopted that madness for the Aussie Open too! My Australian friends who work in health care report this to me regularly, that the attitude towards this multisystem illness in Oz is completely blase. I have a flight booked for April since I haven’t seen my son for 3 years, but I doubt I will go.

    “How many mutations before a strain gets a new greek letter? Or is it based on biological impact? The current definition is a “variant of interest” or a ‘variant of concern”.”

    3 months ago, even the Omicron soup, when presented in a .ppt, fit onto one slide. Now you need 2, one for BA1/2, one for BA4/5 descendants. More soup, less immunity post infection to particular variants. Vaccines are holding up if you have at least 4, one a bivalent, and < 6 months since last one.

Leave a Reply