It’s too early to diagnose how dangerous the new variant is, but the first indications are that it may be unusually MILD.
The chair of the South African Medical Association, probably the world’s top Omicron expert to the extent such a thing exists yet, Dr Angelique Coetzee said:
“It’s all speculation at this stage. It may be it’s highly transmissible, but so far the cases we are seeing are extremely mild. Maybe two weeks from now I will have a different opinion, but this is what we are seeing. So are we seriously worried? No. We are concerned and we watch what’s happening. But for now we’re saying, ‘OK: there’s a whole hype out there. [We’re] not sure why.’”
We also note that the South Africa graphs that have spooked people across the globe have a huge data discontinuity on November 23, when a large backlog of antigen tests were added and daily antigen reporting began – and that South Africa was already due to rise around this time from inter-seasonal lows.
Our advice: First and foremost, don’t panic and impose mandates and lockdowns that have had minimal health benefits over the past two years.
The stock markets here and abroad crashed on Black Friday – wiping out trillions of dollars of wealth – because investors (not without justification) are worried that panicked politicians will reprise the shutdowns of businesses and commerce that collapsed the world economy last year.
Second: tout treatments, including monoclonal antibodies, fluvoxamine, and the new therapeutics from Merck and Pfizer (if authorized).
Third, offer vaccines — and Warp Speed variant-specific shots — to everyone who wants one (and no coercion).
It now appears that the coronavirus is part of the world now, and new strains will arise.
Perpetual panic is the wrong response.