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Omicron will be home for Christmas

Ian Bremmer's Quick Take:

Happy Monday, and yeah, I think I'm still talking to you about the pandemic. I was hoping I would be talking a lot less about the pandemic these days, but we are in the midst of very significant learning on the omicron variant, and I thought I would share what we know and what we really don't know, because the headlines obscure that.

What we know: Big news is that the vaccines don't work very well at all to prevent spread. And that's even true for the mRNA vaccines, the best vaccines, Pfizer and Moderna, that if you've taken two shots, which means that you're considered fully vaccinated and you've got your app, or you've got your vaccine passport, you really aren't protected from getting infected from omicron. Pfizer showing after two vaccine jabs something like 23% effectiveness, which is not effective at all. And the non-mRNA vaccines look like they're even worse, which means that a very, very transmissible strain is not being prevented by the vaccines. That's the bad news, and it's bad news.

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Key questions about the omicron variant

Ian Bremmer's Quick Take:

Good morning everybody and I hope everyone is okay this Monday. I hope you had a happy Thanksgiving, those of you that celebrate. Of course, pretty difficult news over the weekend, and even this morning, the World Health Organization, referring to the new variant omicron of COVID as a very high global risk. And when I hear those words, obviously we get moving at Eurasia Group, a firm very much concerned about that. And indeed, this is in terms of new news about this pandemic that we've all been living with now for almost two years, this is some of the most concerning new headlines that we've seen thus far.

There are some things we know and some things we don't know, there are three things we need to know, if you want to really assess what the omicron risk represents for us and for the world: rates of infection, sickness and mortality and vaccine effectiveness. We only have strong answers about the first, which is we know that this is a lot more infectious as a variant than Delta has been, which itself was much more infectious than the original virus. And that is a very serious problem. I've spoken with a lot of the epidemiologists we know about this over the weekend, they're all extremely concerned about that.

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