The process of scientists learning about Omicron should be a learning experience for workers as well. It is a living example of how a relationship between two events doesn’t necessarily prove cause-and-effect. For example, it was found that in South Africa, where Omicron was first discovered, patients infected with it tended to get less sick. But what scientists didn’t know was whether that was just because of the youthful population in that country. One discovery seems to show that it’s not simply that:
According to an article in the Guardian newspaper, it seems that the Omicron variant tends to infect the upper respiratory tract more than the lungs. That’s important because many of the worst effects of covid – including both long term covid and death – stem from the virus infecting the lungs. Most of these studies were on other animals (mice and guinea pigs) so it doesn’t necessarily translate to humans, but one study was done on humans also. While that study was too small to be definitive, it seemed to confirm this conclusion. “The result of all the mutations that make Omicron different from previous variants is that it may have altered its ability to infect different sorts of cells,” says Deenan Pillay, professor of virology at University College of London. This is very good news, because it’s not only fatalities that we should be concerned with, it’s also “long” covid, since the other variants can cause scarring in the lungs of survivors.
Incidentally, these studies totally destroy the conspiracy theories about covid – that it’s all cooked up, that the scientists are all lying, etc. After all, if they all are part of some grand conspiracy, then why not lie about these results?
Covid Effect on Heart and Kidney
We are not out of the woods yet, though: SARS-CoV2, the virus that causes Covid, also can infect other organs, including the heart and kidneys.
Another study explains “The cardiovascular system is significantly affected in coronavirus disease-19 (COVID-19)…. [and can have] post acute complications.” The Guardian article does not report on whether Omicron is less likely to infect those organs.
Omicron and Vaccines
There seem to also be legitimate concern about the effectiveness of the various vaccinations and Omicron. A new report from the Imperial College London COVID-19 response team “estimates that the risk of reinfection with the Omicron variant is 5.4 times greater than that of the Delta variant. This implies that the protection against reinfection by Omicron afforded by past infection may be as low as 19%.” It is difficult to draw definitive conclusions because infection from Omicron varies across different demographic groups (ages, gender, etc.) Further: “Controlling for vaccine status, age, sex, ethnicity, asymptomatic status, region and specimen date, Omicron was associated with a 5.40 (95% CI: 4.38-6.63) fold higher risk of reinfection compared with Delta. To put this into context, in the pre-Omicron era, the UK “SIREN” study of COVID infection in healthcare workers estimated that prior infection afforded 85% protection against a second COVID infection over 6 months. The reinfection risk estimated in the current study suggests this protection has fallen to 19% (95%CI: 0-27%) against an Omicron infection.”
Complexity of Science
As we say, workers should learn how complex drawing conclusions about science is. This as opposed to the selfishness and simple mindedness of the anti-maskers and vax refusers who are given one simple little fact and think it proves everything they need to know. For example, the anti-maskers point out that a mask can’t filter out anything as small as a virus. They conclude from this that there’s no purpose in wearing a mask, ignoring the fact that the virus doesn’t fly around like a mosquito; it has to ride around on tiny droplets or “aerosols” that a mask can filter out.
The danger of this method of thinking translates to politics in general. After all, it’s impossible to understand what is happening in the world politically without understanding some history. And it’s impossible to understand history with this simple approach that rules out viewing the world in a complex way, that refuses to look beneath the surface.
Covid and Environment
This does not mean that all is well in the official sciences, though. Covid is just one of many diseases that have recently emerged from a virus jumping from another species to humans – what are known as zoonotic diseases. We have swine flu, avian flu, ebola, and many others. The one scientist who has seriously studied and written about this increase in zoonotic diseases is evolutionary epidemiologist Rob Wallace. Many of his talks can be found on youtube. Oaklandsocialist has also carried several articles referring to his research. Wallace shows that the increase in wild habitat destruction coupled with factory farming has set up a “perfect storm”, a perfect environment for viruses to evolve to be able to jump the species barrier. This is almost entirely ignored by mainstream scientists who confine themselves to studying viruses that have already jumped that barrier. Dealing with them is a bit like closing the barn door after the horses have escaped.
Fauci, the CDC, and all the scientific experts that are brought out on the mainstream capitalist media are, in effect, ecomodernists. They focus entirely on what technological fix can be invented to smooth over capitalism’s destruction of the environment. That, in effect, is what the vaccines amount to. It is better than the science denying anti-vaxxers, but it is like the scientists who propose various ineffective partial measures to lessen the effects of capitalist caused global climate change vs. those who deny climate change altogether; both roads lead to ruin. The only difference is that one does so faster than the other.
“A disaster is stalking the planet. It consumes all and threatens all. It is the epochal clash of “society” – in reality capitalism – against the forces of nature. The world capitalist class may seem all powerful, but in the face of the forces of nature it is a Lilliputian facing a giant, a tiny boat at sea in a storm of epic proportions. If this clash is allowed to play out to the fullest, the forces of nature must inevitably sink the capitalist boat…. and carry all its passengers down to a watery grave with it,” Oaklandsocialist wrote nearly two years ago. That is still the case.