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Editorial

Is the Panic over Omicron Justified?

One of our readers who is also a friend of mine was very ‘loud’ when talking to me on the phone the other day. He was almost shouting. He had read in the newspaper about the new mutation of the coronavirus, Omicron (the immortal Greek language, eh?) as it has been labelled, first detected in South Africa. In fact, he has relatives there and he is worried.

He was asking me: “What is going on? How dangerous is it? How easily is it spread? Can it be prevented by the existing vaccines?”

I replied that I was not an expert on the subject and that I am as confused as he is. And that much of what I read in the American and international press is contradictory.

However, it makes sense, I told him, that no one knows the answers to these questions, because the researchers have not yet had time to do the analyses in their laboratories. It takes, they say, two weeks to do so (from the time since the news of the new mutation in South Africa was released).

But human nature tends to see the worst of any situation. Its strongest currency is fear, so people are prone to panicking.

Thus, upon hearing about the mutation, several countries stopped their flights from South Africa. Israel, Morocco, and Japan have completely banned foreign nationals from entering the country. The Dow Jones futures index on the New York Stock Exchange recorded the biggest drop for 2021 that day.

Human action is based on human psychology. We do not wait to see and review the facts. We act based on our instincts.

No virus mutation is painless. At its best, the symptoms will be mild.

Most importantly, we do not yet know if the vaccines are effective against this latest mutation.

They likely will be – but it has not been proven by science. Thus, the uncertainty will continue for a few more days.

Anyway, based on what I know – what I read – there is one solution: We should adhere to all the protective measures available to us. Wear masks. Get the vaccines. The 2 + 1. This is the only solution that exists at present. And so, life must go on.

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