The Omicron Best-Case and Worst-Case Scenarios
Plus, the unnecessary Manchin Mess.
Recently at The Bulwark:
You can support The Bulwark by subscribing to Bulwark+ or just by sharing this newsletter with someone you think would value it.
MICHAEL J. TOTTEN writes about the best and worse case Omicron scenarios.
Here is the best-case scenario—keeping in mind that we don’t have nearly enough data yet: Omicron infections tend to be milder than Delta infections. The case fatality rate and infection fatality rate for Omicron are significantly lower than for Delta. Omicron winds up conferring some protection against Delta and other strains of COVID. And Omicron’s heightened infectiousness allows it to outcompete Delta and replace Delta as the dominant strain of COVID. In this scenario—in the long run—Omicron could wind up saving lives on balance by replacing Delta with a less deadly but more infectious version of COVID. A significant percentage of those who wouldn’t have survived Delta will survive Omicron and then have some protection against Delta and future variants. It is even possible to imagine a scenario in which Omicron could be the means by which COVID moves from pandemic to endemic—by quickly ensuring that almost everybody in the world is at least partially “immunized.”
The enormous uncertainties surrounding immunity and reinfection make it impossible to know how likely this optimistic scenario is. But a few scientists and public health experts have been willing to discuss that possibility, with the requisite hedging and caveats. Here’s Monica Gandhi of UCSF in New York magazine: “Omicron could still be really bad—we don’t know yet—but in the best case scenario it would hasten the time when we’re all immune and the pandemic essentially comes to an end.” And the new German health minister, Karl Lauterbach, speculated a few weeks ago that Omicron may be a “Christmas gift” if it makes the pandemic end sooner.
The ultimate survival of American democracy is going to come down to the Democrats figuring out how to defeat the party that wants to overturn it. Plus, it's Joe Manchin's way or the highway. New York magazine's Ed Kilgore joins guest host JVL on today's episode.
MONA CHAREN on the unnecessary Manchin mess.
Many a Democratic lawmaker and pundit has also whined about how unfair and undemocratic it is that one senator representing such a small state should be able to hold up legislation that the whole country wants so desperately.
Please. These people need to grow up. The rules are the rules. Our system was not designed to be a pure democracy. The Electoral College and the Senate give disproportionate power to some voters over others. You can gnash your teeth about it and shake your fists at the heavens, but to what end? Better to figure out how to woo gettable voters in swing states and win—as Biden did in 2020.
Correspondingly, when the Senate is evenly divided, every single senator becomes a potential majority-maker or -saboteur. That’s math. The Democrats were lucky to squeak to 50, for which they can thank two people. The first was Donald Trump. Because of his tantrum about mythical election stealing, some 752,000 Georgia Republicans who voted in November failed to show up for the runoff in January. That was just enough to elect Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock. The second person was Manchin, who has successfully threaded the needle of maintaining his credibility in a conservative state while still voting with his party most of the time.
Shorter OVERTIME today… Gotta start ferrying in the family for the holidays, and preparations are underway!
America is great. Here’s how California rebuilt the Oroville dam spillway.
Jim Swift Gift Guide… We’re getting a little close to the wire, but one thing I thought about today as a tail light bulb shattered in my hand, which, now bloodied, had to use pliers to remove the remainder of the bulb. I hate doing car chores. And you know who is always there when you have major problems? AAA. Yes, some credit cards offer roadside service and whatnot, but a membership with AAA is a great stocking stuffer.
Also, things you can easily find that would be good would be a Klean Kanteen “Steel pint” or a nice Nalgene bottle. Unless I really have to, I hate buying bottled water, and I have about six Nalgene or double-walled water containers. And you know what they’re good for? Stickers from The Bulwark store.
50 years after the last moon landing… NASA and the Europeans will open a vacuum sealed container of lunar soil.
An 81 year old insurrectionist… was just sentenced.
We’re gonna learn all the nitty gritty about Trump’s COVID strategy… And it’s not gonna be pretty.
That’s it for me. We’ll see you tomorrow. Tech support questions? Email email@example.com.
Editorial photos provided by Getty Images. For full credits, please consult the article