Omicron – is it time to panic

Writing on December 11 2021 –

It seems to me that we are getting mixed messages in the latest scientific information about Covid.  On the one hand, there is information circulating that the “delta” variant is already in the process of self-destructing, most notably in Japan, because the number of mutations it has undergone have left it in a weakened state where it can barely reproduce any more.  This is not conspiracy theory stuff, it is on reputable medical sites if you look for it.  It rings true to me because all our experience with mutations is that they damage organisms in some way, although it is not unknown for a few to have beneficial side-effects.  There is for example a mutation affecting human blood which, if you only get mutated copies of the gene, leaves you vulnerable to sickle cell anaemia, but which if you are fortunate enough to have a mutated gene from one parent and an unmutated gene from the other, confers protection against malaria.  In parts of the world where malaria is common, this is enough of an advantage for natural selection to select in favour of the mutation to the extent that it doesn’t die out.

So anyway, back to the main point, “delta” is fading away because of too many mutations.  On the other hand, “omicron” is thought to be a dangerous threat, before we have much data on its effects, purely because it has a lot of mutations.  I don’t think so.  If it’s already riddled with mutations, it is a half-dead weakling, it will soon fizzle out, and if the government will just hold back on restrictions while we enjoy Christmas and New Year, the data will justify that decision.  The so-called SAGEs may be saying “more contagious”, but I can’t find any data yet to back that up, it’s an assumption.

Most of us have, wisely, broadly accepted the scientific narrative on Covid up till now.  I, for one, am vaccinated and have a booster booked in the near future.  I’m slightly behind schedule, for a legitimate reason which I would rather not discuss.  But when it comes to flawed interpretations of the data, I believe it is time to tell the government that we will resist restrictions imposed ahead of any convincing justification for them.

Fun trivia about omicron – I obtained an Ancient Greek O-level without ever noticing that oMICROn is literally little O and likewise oMEGA is big O.

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