As the new megatron – wait, what was it again? Ah yes, omicron – variant makes its way around the world, all I can do is shrug and say “Here we go again.”
Just like with all of the other “variants of concern,” by the time omicron was detected it had already slipped out of the quarantine zone. Canada’s first omicron cases came from Nigeria, which wasn’t even one of the African countries over which the world tried to throw a net.
The problem with travel bans is that they must be put in place early and remain indefinitely to be of any use. It’s a lot easier to get results from closing the borders of island nations than large countries with integrated, cross-border supply chains like Canada and the United States.
Nevertheless, Israel and Japan – two countries with very high vaccination rates – have gone right back to non-variant COVID mode, shutting down their borders to all international travellers.
The action is reminiscent of March 2020, when draconian measures were justified by how little we knew about COVID. Nearly two years on, omicron is already being seized by the lockdown-lovers as license to further delay – or reverse – reopening.
The World Health Organization’s “preliminary evidence” indicates its researchers don’t know all that much about omicron. Perhaps it’s because all their efforts are tied up with the real pandemic – travel bans that “attack global solidarity.”
That was what the WHO’s regional director for Africa said was his top concern.
“COVID-19 constantly exploits our divisions,” Dr. Matshidiso Moeti said. “We will only get the better of the virus if we work together for solutions.”
Omicron might be a new variant, but we still get the same old “We’re all in this together” shtick to counter it.
Meanwhile, the WHO continues to run interference for China, even at the expense of the Greek alphabet. When I first came across this story, I feared it would prove too good to be true, but it’s true. We haven’t had a variant of concern since delta, but researchers have nonetheless picked up lambda and mu “variants of interest.”
The next one was supposed to be “nu” though the WHO apparently didn’t want a “Who’s on first?” situation with “nu” and “new.”
“On the new one?”
“No, not the old nu one.”
That said, I trust Abbott and Costello more than anyone else over at the WHO.
After nu should have been the xi variant. Not as in Chairman Xi – that’s all the variants, really. But the similar spelling was enough for the WHO to just skip over it entirely to avoid “stigmatising a region,” thus bringing us to omicron.
We still have nine more letters ‘til omega – I think that’s when the pandemic ends.
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Conservatives and Libertarians Who Care Update
On Saturday, Danielle Smith and I hosted the first official meeting of Libertarians Who Care and Conservatives Who Care. After brief presentations from representatives of the groups on the two shortlists, members voted and selected the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms and the Canadian Covid Care Alliance, respectively, as their first beneficiaries.
If you are a member you’ll have received information on how and where to send your money. If you want to join ahead of the next cycle to nominate and vote on recipients, just register here. The only rule is that you agree to donate $100 every three months to whomever the group picks. Our goal is for each of the groups to have 100 members, which means $20,000 every quarter will be going to pro-liberty initiatives and organizations.
Unvaccinated Germans inoculated with irony
With some stories, the joke is so self-evident that I don’t know what else I’m supposed to add. Such is the case with this headline:
German euthanasia clinics refusing unvaccinated customers
Citing “human closeness” as a “breeding ground” for COVID transmission, the German Euthanasia Association wants proof of vaccination before you get help killing yourself.
As the Spectator’s Steerpike puts it, there’s now a “vaccine passport to the afterlife.”
Comic irony aside, there is a bigger point here about the denial of healthcare to the unvaccinated. There have been myriad stories about people being taken off transplant lists because of their vaccination status. Defenders of this say that it’s for medical, not moral, reasons.
However, in Canada, there have been dozens of complaints to regulatory colleges over doctors denying care to unvaccinated patients. A Florida doctor is openly barring unvaccinated primary care patients, saying “the health of the public takes priority over the rights of any given individual.”
Disney cozies up to China
Just as the WHO skipped a letter of the Greek alphabet to make China happy, so too did Disney+ with an episode of The Simpsons. A 2005 episode of the animated show is conspicuously absent from the streaming service’s offerings in Hong Kong. Coincidentally, I’m sure, it’s the episode in which the Simpson family visits China only to find a placard in Tiananmen Square saying, “On this site, in 1989, nothing happened.”
It’s a good joke and a salient point. Years ago, as a second-year undergraduate student, I was shocked to learn in a class discussion that a Chinese classmate had never heard of the Tiananmen Square massacre (though not as shocked as she was to learn about it, I suspect). At the time, and perhaps still now, China had managed to purge the event from its citizens’ collective consciousness by censoring any and all mentions of it anywhere Chinese people could access.
Disney censored its own show over a joke about Chinese regime censorship. For all its tens of billions of dollars and global reach, Disney is no different than most other world leaders in bending the knee before Chairman Xi. It’s a wonder the company hasn’t pulled its Winnie the Pooh properties.
What Disney hasn’t removed to this day is the line in the credits of Mulan thanking the “cooperation, approvals, and assistance provided” by the Public Security Bureau in Xinjiang, where Uyghurs are being subjected to an ongoing genocide by the folks Disney is committed to pleasing.