Oh, great. Now there's a "stealth Omicron" variant?

AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

We have apparently gone too long without a new, scary, panic-inducing headline about the pandemic from global health officials. To fill this glaring void, an announcement came out last night suggesting that yet another variant of the novel coronavirus has been detected. This one has been classified as the BA.2 variant, but it’s already picking up a much cooler name for journalists and politicians to use. They’re referring to it as a “stealth Omicron” variant. The word “stealth” is being inserted because researchers claim that it’s “somewhat” harder to detect. It’s also being suggested that it “could be” more contagious, but they really aren’t sure yet. In fact, the more you read into the details, the less these authorities seem to know about it, but it’s been seen in at least 40 countries and, of course, it’s already shown up in the United States. (Associated Press)

Scientists and health officials around the world are keeping their eyes on a descendant of the omicron variant that has been found in at least 40 countries, including the United States.

This version of the coronavirus, which scientists call BA.2, is widely considered stealthier than the original version of omicron because particular genetic traits make it somewhat harder to detect. Some scientists worry it could also be more contagious.

But they say there’s a lot they still don’t know about it, including whether it evades vaccines better or causes more severe disease.

So they don’t know if current testing kits can detect BA.2. They don’t know if the current vaccines are effective against it or, if so, how effective they are. They don’t know if it causes more severe symptoms and outcomes than the original Omicron variant. They don’t know how the transmissibility of BA.2 compares to the previous versions.

When you get right down to it, it doesn’t sound as if they know much of anything about it other than the fact that it looks slightly different than the current version of Omicron that’s been making the rounds. I don’t want to sound like “the anti-science guy” here, but if you’ll pardon my asking the question, why did you bother announcing this? Was it just to keep everyone in a state of panic so the government can keep trying to enforce vaccination campaigns and face mask mandates?

What they do seem to know is that doctors have uploaded almost 15,000 genetic sequences of BA.2 to a global COVID database shared by researchers around the world. The vast majority came from Asia and Europe. Of that number, 96 of them were uploaded from the United States. In other words, as one researcher put it, “we haven’t seen it start to gain ground” in the United States.

So, if you survived a case of the original BA.1 Omicron variant, will your natural antibodies from that experience protect you from contracting BA.2? Again, they don’t know. And a “genetic quirk” in BA.2 reportedly causes it to look like Delta rather than BA.1, so there “may be some confusion” in identifying new cases.

I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty much done with all of this. The virus isn’t going to go away and it will apparently just keep mutating. Everyone is going to have to just “learn to live with” this virus, though not all of us will.

The one thing that’s clearly spreading faster than COVID is the public’s depression over having to deal with this pandemic (and the governmental and social disruptions it has caused) potentially indefinitely. A new Gallup poll out this week shows that pessimism regarding the pandemic is now being reported in a majority of Americans.

In May and June 2021, as increasing numbers of Americans were vaccinated against COVID-19, more than four in five U.S. adults believed the coronavirus situation was getting better. Yet, as the delta variant began to emerge and spread in July, that figure plummeted to 15%.

By October, with infections from the delta variant waning, a slim 51% majority once again thought the situation was improving. However, as news of the omicron strain’s emergence in Africa began to circulate in November, Americans became more concerned, and the percentage saying the situation was improving fell 20 percentage points. The latest reading is down an additional 11 points.

A depressing 58% of people now say that they believe the pandemic is “worsening” and another 22% think it may not be worsening, but it’s not getting any better. Only one in five Americans think things are getting better and there may be a light at the end of the tunnel. That’s simply dismal. The virus is out of control. The government is out of control. The pandemic alarmists in the mainstream media are out of control. We need to force the situation and put this behind us and realize that COVID, much like the flu, is going to be sticking around. We’ve lived with the flu for many generations. We’ll just have to do the same with this virus. We can’t keep living in a perpetual state of emergency forever.