A New Contender: What Omicron Spells for the Future of the Pandemic


William Du, Staff Writer

The new omicron variant, sure to be expedited by the upcoming seasonal holidays, spells bad news for the ever-changing hoped for end of the pandemic. The only question on everyone’s minds is, how bad is it going to get? The Omicron variant carries many mutations, and scientists do not know yet whether the current vaccines are effective. So far, there have been hundreds of thousands of cases, and the virus may be more contagious than its predecessor. However, just like the virus’s previous mutations, this one does not appear as potent as the original. Scientists do not know yet just what the different mutations entail and their consequences. However, it’s clear that its local and global response will determine the main implications of this current stage of the virus.

So far, there have been travel bans in response to Omicron in Japan, Israel, and Morocco. President Biden has also put a restrictive travel ban in place, and New York has ordered another mask mandate. However, just like a net, these restrictions will have ‘holes’ in them. The virus has already spread out of its origination in South Africa despite advanced detection methods and travel bans, and further bans won’t stop it from spreading further. More concerningly, the bans may have a severe effect on the socioeconomic status of a country. However, some argue that travel bans may still be effective. Studies estimate that early bans during the pandemic reduced the number of coronavirus cases by 77%. Needless to say, the measures taken right now may determine the welfare of a large group of people, as well as the end of the long pandemic.

Recent experiences have shown that scientists may be more adept at ending the pandemic than politicians, and soon a new tool may be in their arsenal: covid pills. Early in the pandemic, scientists discovered NHC/EIDD-2801, an effective chemical against multiple coronaviruses. The chemical has reduced the chance that a person was hospitalized by coronavirus by one-half and appeared to have no significant side effects. Made readily available, the pills may be an effective medicine for infected patients and alleviate the heavy burden the virus has placed on hospitals. The chemical’s name is Molnupiravir, named after Thor’s hammer. Perhaps someone worthy will come to wield it correctly.

It’s too pessimistic to cancel all social plans just yet, as well as too optimistic to make new ones. We just need to trust the officials we elected and hope they balance local interest and international responsibility. There’s reason for hope, though not enough to abandon all precaution measures. All there is to do now is follow the proper procedures, which will help determine the ultimate fate of the omicron variant.