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World on alert as more countries report cases of COVID-19 variant

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By PAN PYLAS

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The key question is when will the neoliberal governments, such as Japan, Germany, the US, the UK, etc., oppose the greed of big pharma and agree to make vaccines a common global good and freely share production information with the world?

9 ( +23 / -14 )

UK finds 2 new cases,

suspected case found in Germany yesterday,

Italy one, also

and so on.

These live national updates remind me of the press in Charlie and the C F when they zoomed over to different countries each time a kid found a golden ticket. 

The media today are whipping up a similar kind of frenzy, but if you got past high school biology or have been reading throughout the pandemic, you will know that viruses are impossible to stop, and so, it is inevitable that this virus ( let’s move away from calling it a mutation or variant ) will also become widespread.

But in another sense, absolutely nothing has changed, and at least some of the experts are already having the good conscience to call out this new wave of hysteria.

-5 ( +21 / -26 )

Except that as reported by the BBC, according to scientists in South Africa, this new variant is LESS likely to cause symptoms than Delta and also, LESS likely to cause serious sickness, even if symptoms are present. It does seem to spread quicker though. A researcher mentioned how it's probably already widly spread and has gone under the rader. A knee jerk reaction from the UK (again). And nobody is locking down arrivals from Israel, Belgium, etc.

5 ( +18 / -13 )

I still don't understand why everyone in the world is still in such a need to travel. If everyone could just stay within the country for a year, things wouldn't have been so chaotic now. I mean what's wrong with one own country? Domestic flight or traveling within the nation is just as fun. There is so many places within one own country that a person can enjoy themselves and relax. But from what i can tell, people are so anxious to go abroad just because it's the holidays or want to go on a cruise.

-21 ( +13 / -34 )

I guess at this point, technically, it could just as easily be called a “potentially” less contagious variant…. but that doesn’t strike as much or enough of the desired amount fear…

5 ( +17 / -12 )

I still don't understand why everyone in the world is still in such a need to travel.

Visiting friends and family, business trips, international exchanges, tourism - are these good enough reason to want to travel?

7 ( +17 / -10 )

@hiro or maybe we want to be able to travel because many have international families and friends and haven’t seen them in years now? My sister had a daughter in March 2020, I was lucky enough to see her once for her first birthday, my son hasn’t met his only cousin yet.

Or work that actually requires meeting people and visiting places ?

5 ( +15 / -10 )

vaccinate, mask wear, wash hands and if possible WFH and STF. Sucks, but we don't know enough about this variant to let our guard down. Over 5 million dead in less than 2 years. We have to be careful and stay vigilant without panicking.

-1 ( +15 / -16 )

Omicron is an anagram of moronic. Just a coincidence of course.

2 ( +25 / -23 )

@Hiro - two years ago I might have agreed with you. Shutting things down for a couple of months and everywhere could have made a difference. It didn’t happen though and because of that this mess continues. People are tired of it and want to move about.

3 ( +13 / -10 )

Border closures and stopping flights does nothing to prevent the virus from spreading, already proven for 2 years and still the madness continues.

The new variant is already everywhere, it’s too late now.

Closing it now for a few months - vaccine efficiency down on most elders and the vulnerable early next year (6months passed) - more death and restrictions.

It’s time to lift the head out frmom the bush and let the virus run the course it will run.

3 ( +18 / -15 )

Does anybody care?

4 ( +18 / -14 )

Kitchener Leslie - Does anybody care?

I’m pretty sure you’d care if you caught it.

2 ( +17 / -15 )

Groundhog Day !

another day, another variant, another media fear frenzy

3 ( +17 / -14 )

Is very deadly also meaning that it’s still not a problem for 99% of most healthy young people?

The delta variant seemed to go through the whole population as it was so infectious and I think hard to detect too.

7 ( +14 / -7 )

I still don't understand why everyone in the world is still in such a need to travel

@Hiro, people have family in different parts of the world and for some like me, we haven't been able to see them for 2 years at this point. It's frustrating and sad and disappointing to have to spend yet another Christmas without your loved ones. I myself desperately wanted to go home this year but now with this new variant, I'm relieved I didn't put those plans into motion because knowing Japan, they'll probably start banning all non-Japanese from entering the country again, even if you have a valid visa.

2 ( +10 / -8 )

I’m glad they are bringing back compulsory mask wearing in public buildings. Everyone has become very complacent in the UK.

10 ( +19 / -9 )

For example, they could say MAY NOT instead of MAY and it would mean EXACTLY the same thing.

If they mean exactly the same thing what are you complaining about?

It’s the same as complaining about statistics without a hundred different contexts. It’s a short newspaper article not a journal.

-5 ( +8 / -13 )

Why “accelerate the vaccine rollout” in Britain, Boris? You still don’t know whether the existing vaccines are effective against the new variant.

-1 ( +10 / -11 )

If this variant was found in Europe and not Africa I wonder if the response would have been different.

3 ( +10 / -7 )

Border closures and lockdowns are pointless. Such measures are not worth it, given the low mortality rate of COVID-19; the new variant is no more deadly than Delta, and probably less so

-8 ( +7 / -15 )

@hiro

Judging by your screen name, you are Japanese and your family and friends are all here.

People like me aren’t Japanese and are extremely eager to visit our families and friends back home, who we haven’t seen for more than two years.

Thats why their is such a desire for a internation

3 ( +11 / -8 )

….international travel from the likes of me.

3 ( +8 / -5 )

We are almost getting NUMB to the developments and mutations of this MONSTER.

2 ( +6 / -4 )

Get ready for another ride.

I guess tourism won't come back in 2022 either. Bummer.

11 ( +14 / -3 )

This variant doesn't seem to be anything to worry about

The importance of the variant is that it has not been fully characterized yet, which is why measures should be put in order in case it becomes clear it represents a clear danger (evading previous immunity, being much more easily transmitted, causing new complications, etc) Delta became such a problem even without higher fatality rates just because of its higher transmisibility.

That means that yes, the variant is something to seriously worry about until it better understood.

-6 ( +11 / -17 )

If this variant was found in Europe and not Africa I wonder if the response would have been different.

Good point.

0 ( +12 / -12 )

I still don't understand why everyone in the world is still in such a need to travel.

We're only free to do what we need to do?

Maybe people still want to travel because they don't feel obligated to live in abject, neurotic, paralyzing fear over a virus whose fatality rate is a small fraction of one percent.

0 ( +12 / -12 )

Largely absent from the hysterical media reports on this new variant are the reports from treating physicians that the symptoms so far have been very mild. In any case, its time to acknowledge that the virus is endemic and it is inevitable that every human on earth will eventually become infected. Lockdowns and masks are ineffective and destructive to society. Vaccines of all eligible adults and segregation of elderly or those with multiple co-morbidities are the only way to move forward and get used to this virus in the same way that we treat influenza.

-3 ( +8 / -11 )

Maybe people still want to travel because they don't feel obligated to live in abject, neurotic, paralyzing fear over a virus whose fatality rate is a small fraction of one percent.

Making up weird invalid false dichotomies disqualifies your argument. There is nothing wrong with being careful and prepared to decrease as much as possible the spreading of an actual global public health problem that has caused over 5 million deaths. Just saying all the public health experts of the world are "exaggerating" is not a believable position to take. There is no need to be in "paralyzing fear" but pretending the pandemic is nothing to worry about is equally invalid.

Lockdowns and masks are ineffective and destructive to society.

Lockdowns and masks are effective, and much better than doing nothing. Just the personal opinion of nameless people on the internet are not enough to prove the medical and scientific consensus (that say the measures are very useful) wrong.

Vaccines of all eligible adults and segregation of elderly or those with multiple co-morbidities are the only way to move forward

Vaccination of all the people for which the risks are decreased by it is much better, and the scientist of the world coincide in saying that "segregation" of the people with vulnerabilities is not only impractical but also doomed to fail for an infection that can be transmitted by asymptomatic carriers.

-1 ( +18 / -19 )

If this variant was found in Europe and not Africa I wonder if the response would have been different.

I doubt it. Cast your mind back to late December last year with what was known as the ‘Kent’ variant that the UK discovered. The UK was promptly cut off from many places within 48 hours.

0 ( +9 / -9 )

Both Italy and Germany?

So omicron is very likely to be in the US too.

7 ( +9 / -2 )

Maybe people still want to travel because they don't feel obligated to live in abject, neurotic, paralyzing fear over a virus whose fatality rate is a small fraction of one percent.

Indeed! And according to the South African doctors treating Covid19 patients, the effects of this new variant are even milder.

-1 ( +11 / -12 )

It will have been seeded everywhere by now. There is no one on this website (other than perhaps @virusrex), even capable of making an educated guess of where the world will be 3 weeks from now. There is simply no data on how infectious it is, what the death rate will be like, and as for the anti vaxxers saying the current vaccines will be useless…well, even Pfizer and Moderna have openly said they need a couple of weeks investigation.

The Mu variant came to nothing at the end of the day, Delta did. There is every good reason to suppress travel until more is known, as frustrating as it is.

@Hiro: echoing a comment above, I assume you are Japanese. Most here are not, two years of not seeing friends and family is very hard on a lot if us. Whats harder is having to listen to people on this website who refuse to mask up, refuse to vaccinate and keep relentlessly pushing useless therapies, and claiming day after day that the vaccines are not vaccines. Fortunately, most in Japan have ignored this false narrative, but sadly not elsewhere which is just further extending this cycle of misery.

-5 ( +12 / -17 )

Did anyone else notice the FACT that, after chiding the world for calling virus strains after their places of origin (how DARE anyone call it the Wuhan Flu or China Virus, in contrast to past practice as with German Measles or the Spanish Flu), and insisting, in China's favour, that the world use the Greek? alphabet to label subsequent strain

This was decided many years before the pandemic even began, names of diseases and pathogens should not be shared with places or people and every effort should be done to make the names more descriptive and useful. This is not "in China's favour" but a change that make names more clear and less likely to have negative effect on unrelated people. Do you also want people to revert to negative practices in other things just because that was how it was done before? segregation, sexism, domestic violence were also normal "past practice", do you also consider bad that they are no longer so?

Indeed! And according to the South African doctors treating Covid19 patients, the effects of this new variant are even milder.

Indeed wrong because of the reasons already written that you did nothing to refute.

African doctors are very likely doing their best to fully describe and characterize this new variant in a scientific way, so it will be understood more clearly how much of a risk it represent. Before that happens it is justified to consider it a risk worth controlling.

-1 ( +12 / -13 )

So they skip "xi" and head straight to "omicron", which is an anagram of "moronic". At this point they are now mocking you.

-7 ( +10 / -17 )

There is simply no data on how infectious it is, what the death rate will be like, and as for the anti vaxxers saying the current vaccines will be useless…well, even Pfizer and Moderna have openly said they need a couple of weeks investigation.

Doctors treating Covid19 patients say the symptoms are mild:

“Their symptoms were so different and so mild from those I had treated before,” said Dr Coetzee, a GP for 33 years who chairs the South African Medical Association alongside running her practice.

About half of her omicron infected patients were vaccinated, in a country where only about a quarter of the population is vaccinated. The current vaccines had limited and short lived effect against delta, so we should not expect much against omicron, which has a much more mutated spike protein. But of course Pfizer and Moderna will not admit that, they want everyone to get vaccinated continuously regardless of how unhelpful they are.

-6 ( +9 / -15 )

So, we have a new variant.

Are hundreds of thousands or millions of people dying in Malawi?

In South Africa?

The answer is no…

Obviously, Omicron is not the problem that panic suggests.

2 ( +15 / -13 )

Doctors treating Covid19 patients say the symptoms are mild:

That is a very different thing than proving the variant is capable only of producing mild symptoms, that is precisely the value of validating and analyzing data in a scientific way.

For delta the same could have been said at the beginning, and still became a huge problem just because of its higher transmissibility.

About half of her omicron infected patients were vaccinated, in a country where only about a quarter of the population is vaccinated.

Testing preferentially patients that have to be vaccinated is an obvious source of bias. If a hospital treating only women was the source of the samples it would give an obviously higher number of female patients, that would not make valid to say "women are preferentially infected".

The current vaccines had limited and short lived effect against delta, so we should not expect much against omicron,

That is something that needs to be proved scientifically, more than half a year of very strong efficacy against delta is not "short lived" and it is still perfectly possible that even longer protection can be elicited against omicron, because not all the antigenic sites responsible for the recognition have mutated. Without a proper scientific investigation your guess is not based in nothing but your own bias.

The opinion of companies is not what is important here but the scientific consensus product from analyzing the evidence that is still being collected. Everything is possible, specially because it has been predicted since the beginning of the pandemic that low vaccination rates would end up facilitating the appearance of variants that would make previous immunity (from the infection as well as the vaccines) insufficient. But to make conclusions it is still necessary to get first information, not just biased opinions.

-2 ( +13 / -15 )

How fear of new Covid strain 'Omicron' gripped the world:

Fear, fear, fear..

That is the correct yet scary word. 

In an atmosphere of global intense fear, some people grow bigger, stronger to take advantage of the mass of weaker people..

2 ( +10 / -8 )

The new variants are emerging so fast, so much more lethal & infectious that they defy common wisdom, beyond any intuitive understanding.

Can the world cope? Is it coping at all?

What about nations still struggling to get even the first dose for most of their anxious people?

-1 ( +8 / -9 )

Raw Beer: Open your eyes man. You're just plain wrong.. I don't know why you are being so stubborn. The world is in crisis and Ivermectin isn't going to make it go away, Nor stop the spread.

2 ( +13 / -11 )

Maybe people still want to travel because they don't feel obligated to live in abject, neurotic, paralyzing fear over a virus whose fatality rate is a small fraction of one percent.

no the fatality rate of covid prior to any vaccines was about 2%. all these antivaxxers, all they do is complain while offering no decent alternative.

No herd immunity by just opening the world up and letting covid run its course isnt an option . DO these dummies realise that while this option will result in about 80million deaths worldwide it will also open up far more variants as billions of people are infected, increasing the risk of variants that are far more contagious and far more fatal than both delta or omicron.

Now once again to the antivaxxers what are your scientific alternatives that doesnt result in 10s millions of deaths

1 ( +9 / -8 )

We are almost getting NUMB to the developments and mutations of this MONSTER.

its called complacency, which in itself is a danger of prolonging this pandemic

3 ( +10 / -7 )

Raw Beer: Open your eyes man. You're just plain wrong.. I don't know why you are being so stubborn. The world is in crisis and Ivermectin isn't going to make it go away, Nor stop the spread.

First of all, who said anything about ivermectin?

Second, what is stubborn about quoting doctors on site who are treating patients.

all they do is complain while offering no decent alternative.

Well, I have long repeated comments from experts saying that we should not mass vaccinate during a pandemic AND that vaccinating against a single protein (spike) is not as good as vaccinating against multiple proteins.

Now we have an escape mutant with a heavily mutated spike protein.

-9 ( +5 / -14 )

Stewart GaleToday  09:13 am JST

@hiro

Judging by your screen name, you are Japanese and your family and friends are all here.

People like me aren’t Japanese and are extremely eager to visit our families and friends back home, who we haven’t seen for more than two years.

Thats why their is such a desire for a internation

Thats why their is such a desire for a internation

As for me and my family around the world, I wouldn't want to risk bringing an infectious disease to my elderly family members no matter how much I miss them.

How great do you think you will feel if you end up being responsible for bringing the virus that kills one of your elderly relative!?

-8 ( +8 / -16 )

I totally agree @Antiquesaving. But that doesn't take away the desire to see my family. Frankly, I'm not going to leave it much longer - and I will have to bear Quarantine.

But if more countries had achieved the vaccination levels of the eligible population like Japan has, these sudden new variants prompting sudden travel restrictions.

-4 ( +4 / -8 )

How is this different from when they found the Mu and Lamda variants? I can't remember, were people freaking out when that happened?

2 ( +5 / -3 )

Doctors treating Covid19 patients say the symptoms are mild:

That is a very different thing than proving the variant is capable only of producing mild symptoms,

It indicates the symptoms are on average milder than previous variants; i.e., no need to freak.

About half of her omicron infected patients were vaccinated, in a country where only about a quarter of the population is vaccinated.

Testing preferentially patients that have to be vaccinated is an obvious source of bias. If a hospital treating only women was the source of the samples it would give an obviously higher number of female patients, that would not make valid to say "women are preferentially infected".

Are you suggesting one needs to be vaccinated to get treated or tested? In a country with only about a quarter of the population vaccinated!

-6 ( +4 / -10 )

Not in a country where only 25% of the population are vaccinated. But here in Japan, then yes, I believe anybody unvaccinated through choice should not have any government funded treatment should you contract Covid. Nor should any of your bills be covered for any suspected long Covid symptoms. But you're fine with that anyway, as you have your therapeutics.

-6 ( +3 / -9 )

Confirmed in Australia.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

Confirmed in Australia

If there is any country that will resort to a pointless lockdown, this is the one. Will be interesting to see if the totalitarian governments use it as another excuse to deprive Australians of basic freedoms. Of course the Aussies will be Gaslit by the media into accepting it.

-1 ( +8 / -9 )

I got my 5 packs of toilet paper already!

3 ( +9 / -6 )

Key question is the SYMPTOMS. Viruses spread all the time, but we only need worry if symptoms are bad. And so far, looks like symptoms aren't so bad. Here's some evidence:

The new Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2 results in mild disease, without prominent symptoms, Angelique Coetzee, the chairwoman of the South African Medical Association, said on Saturday (Nov. 27). 

"It presents mild disease with symptoms being sore muscles and tiredness for a day or two not feeling well. So far, we have detected that those infected do not suffer loss of taste or smell. They might have a slight cough. There are no prominent symptoms. Of those infected some are currently being treated at home," Coetzee said.

The official noted that hospitals have not been overburdened by Omicron patients and that the new strain has not been detected in fully vaccinated South Africans. 

"We will only know this after two weeks. Yes, it is transmissible, but for now, as medical practitioners, we do not know why so much hype is being driven as we are still looking into it. We will only know after two to three weeks as there are some patients admitted and these are young people aged 40 and younger," Coetzee added.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

Most indications I have seen say the Omicron variant is more contagious but LESS severe than Delta. SO this maybe a blessing in disguise as it may have mutated to a less dangerous strain ! I know the Pharma pushers won’t be happy but this could be a Christmas present that everybody wants!

0 ( +5 / -5 )

@ the resident, I've said this a few times to a few friends and health personal, if these anti vaxers dont wont the injection, thats fine with me, but they must sign a piece of paper saying that they waiver any right to free treatment from the state, when the get covid and need medicle assistance they have to pay a substantial payment upfront to cover them for any medicle assistance they need. why should the rest of the country have to foot the medicle expenses of a reckless individual when it could have been potentially avoided?

-2 ( +5 / -7 )

It indicates the symptoms are on average milder than previous variants; i.e., no need to freak.

No, without a proper scientific study this is just anecdotal evidence from incomplete set, and your strawman is still false what the experts of the world say is that we need to treat the variant as dangerous until proven otherwise. Delta did not need to cause heavier symptoms to become a very serious public health problem because of its increased transmissibiity, which appears to be lower than this variant.

Are you suggesting one needs to be vaccinated to get treated or tested?

If an important portion of the evidence come from travelers of course it means so, because travelers are required to be vaccinated to travel, then tested. Which is a very important bias that the expert recognize. Nobody is presenting yet widespread testing as the base of their reports.

How is this different from when they found the Mu and Lamda variants? I can't remember, were people freaking out when that happened?

This is related to the evidence, neither Mu nor Lamda (nor Theta, etc.) appeared to spread preferentially with respect with Delta, which means that Delta would outcompete them and remain predominant, so even if the other variants were more pathogenic they would not spread against Delta. With this variant this is apparently reversed, so if it can outcompete delta then eventually all cases will be due to Omicron, and it becomes essential to know if the disease is more serious or not with this variant.

Well, I have long repeated comments from experts saying that we should not mass vaccinate during a pandemic AND that vaccinating against a single protein (spike) is not as good as vaccinating against multiple proteins.

Now we have an escape mutant with a heavily mutated spike protein.

And yet again the variant did not appear on a well vaccinated population as the debunked "experts" predicted, but the opposite, becoming further evidence that the approach that they and you propose is completely mistaken and perfectly safe to be ignored. The reality is clearly against your personal beliefs, the same as with the ineffective drugs you like, a rational person would recognize it, but antiscientific people would instead try to ignore the reality to persevere in their mistaken beliefs.

-3 ( +5 / -8 )

@Brian Wheway - Exactly. The have been offered the vaccine FREE by the Government as a preventative measure. No cost to them. If they don't comply, just from a moral standpoint then any consequences come from THEIR wallet - not my tax money. The enormous vaccine costs, the losses in revenue to our businesses etc have already cost US enough and if they can't be bothered to do this bit then frankly, even if it sounds callous I don't care what happens to them.

-3 ( +4 / -7 )

but they must sign a piece of paper saying that they waiver any right to free treatment from the state,

Most of the people that refuse the vaccine will also refuse to sign anything they are forced to sign.

The moment you say "must" they will say no.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

WORLD FEARS are stoked by the attentiongrabing media and not by the virus !

0 ( +4 / -4 )

Surprising how the usual suspect are trying to stoke fears….

1 ( +6 / -5 )

It indicates the symptoms are on average milder than previous variants; i.e., no need to freak.

No, without a proper scientific study this is just anecdotal evidence from incomplete set,

I agree, I'm just saying that those who are treating it noticed it to cause milder symptoms and so we should not freak out. So far, it appears milder, I am not claiming to represent a scientific consensus...

If an important portion of the evidence come from travelers of course it means so, because travelers are required to be vaccinated to travel, then tested.

You seem to be confusing this with yesterday's comments from other posters about cases in returning travelers in other countries.

My quotes are from a South African doc who has treated people infected with omicron, which has spread in the region. Why do you assume they are travelers?

-3 ( +4 / -7 )

Interesting that many are claiming this variant has milder symptoms when there is no evidence to support this. Omicrom is far too new for us to know this.

0 ( +7 / -7 )

The have been offered the vaccine FREE by the Government as a preventative measure. No cost to them. If they don't comply...

What do you mean by "if they don't comply"? In Japan, there is no obligation or pressure to get vaccinated. Why should I need to get a vaccine that does little to reduce the spread (more so for omicron), becomes useless after about 7 months, and which interferes with one's innate immune system?

I prefer addressing the pandemic in an intelligent manner and focus on improving my general health and immune system.

-4 ( +5 / -9 )

I am not claiming to represent a scientific consensus...

More the opposite, if the scientific consensus is that this variant is to be considered of importance because of it very real chance of becoming a real danger to public health (nobody is saying people should freak out) then saying the disease is nothing to worry about is going against the scientific/medical consensus.

I prefer addressing the pandemic in an intelligent manner and focus on improving my general health and immune system.

Rejecting the scientific consensus and instead persevering in personal beliefs even when repeatedly proved false is not an intelligent matter but the opposite. If you do the opposite of what every medical and scientific institution of the whole world recommend then that betrays a preference to do whatever you want to believe, not what can be proved to be the best.

My quotes are from a South African doc who has treated people infected with omicron, which has spread in the region. Why do you assume they are travelers?

Because that is the source that has been produced, if you have a source that proves patients are treated without bias and still more vaccinated people are found than what is to be expected from a random sample then you can provide it, else you are the one mixing between treated and vaccinated patient sources.

Why should I need to get a vaccine that does little to reduce the spread (more so for omicron),

If the vaccine reduces the rates of infections and symptoms then it does much more than "little" to reduce the spread, and until there is evidence the immunity from the vaccine is less effective for omicron then you are blindly assuming something not proved. It would be the same as assuming the vaccines protect better than natural immunity for this variant just because the reports indicates higher risks of reinfection.

-5 ( +2 / -7 )

Hiro.

My father passed away a year ago.

I wish to travel to see his grave, console my mother not gallivant on a cruise ship.

I actually have tickets to go home at Christmas.

Now with this, it feels like a kick in the stomach.

I don't want to infect anyone but how long is this going to go on for.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

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