Is the Omicron panic just the beginning of the way we live now?

The federal government must, must, must become more nimble. The announcement of Omicron’s arrival came just a week after the Centers for Disease Control finally approved vaccine booster shots for all adults. Plenty of observers believe it should have happened sooner. “I think the confusing message around the boosters may end up being one of the biggest missed opportunities in this pandemic,” Dr. Scott Gottlieb, a former FDA commissioner, said earlier this month. Indeed, Democratic governors like Jared Polis in Colorado and Laura Kelly in Kansas stopped waiting and approved boosters in their states even before the CDC action.

Vaccine makers Pfizer and BioNTech now say they could ship variant-specific vaccines within 100 days, if necessary. It might be necessary — but it’s difficult to have faith that the CDC and FDA will move with all due speed. The pandemic is nearly two years old, but Americans still don’t have access to the kind of quick-and-easy COVID tests available to Europeans, largely because of U.S. agencies’ laborious approval process. That obviously needs to change.