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.