Tucker Carlson could manage it. It could also be done by Laura Ingraham or Mark Levin, as well as Donald Trump.
One of these conservatives could explain on air that the Omicron variant has put a lot of their audience in grave risk. They could remind the audience that they are not always convinced by vaccines, but Omicron is different. It’s so contagious, it could quickly sweep the country.
They could continue to mock panicky liberals for wearing facemasks outside and forcing children to stand apart in cold schoolyards as they made this warning. Conservatives don’t have to do that. They just need to get a Covid-19 vaccination which could save their lives.
Although I have no illusions as to how likely this scenario will be, I believe that unvaccinated Americans, who are disproportionately Republican, are now at greater risk than they were a few weeks ago. Omicron appears to be qualitatively more infectious than any other variant. My colleague George wrote wrote all you need to know about the omicron pandemic.
Omicron spread twice faster in South Africa than the highly infectious Delta strain. Officials in Britain estimate that Omicron is spreading at a rate of 200,000 cases per day. Omicron cases in Denmark are increasing by about two per day.
The biggest factor in determining vaccination rates in the United States is partisanship. If Democratic voters created their own country, the United States would be one with the highest vaccination rates, with over 91 percent of adults having had at least one shot. Only 60 percent of Republican adults have vaccinated.
This gap in vaccinations has led to a large gap in death rates that has grown rapidly during the second half.
The chart below was based on data provided by Charles Gaba . Charles Gaba is a health care analyst and has divided the country into 10 equal-sized groups. The Trump line represents the one-tenth American who live in the most Trump-friendly counties last year. The Biden line, on the other hand, is the equivalent of the President’s top counties. The “swing” line refers to counties in which each candidate received at least 45 percent of votes.
One striking fact is that Covid deaths have not increased in swing and heavily Biden counties over the past two-months, despite an increase in nationwide cases. Rising caseloads do not automatically mean rising death tolls in heavily vaccinated communities.
However, in hundreds of U.S. states, the majority of adults have yet to receive a Covid vaccine shot. “Just this summer, 150,000 Americans have needlessly died despite the availability of vaccines,” Dr. Peter Hotez of Baylor College of Medicine in Houston said yesterday .
Vaccine skepticalism is a result of messages on social media, conservative outlets such as Fox News, Sinclair Broadcast Group, and talk radio. These platforms are often populated by experts who do not advise people to get vaccinated. However, they also send a negative message about vaccines.
They decry vaccine mandates and exaggerate rare side effects. They don’t convey the message scientists and Democratic politicians want: Please get vaccinated as soon as you can.
A pro-vaccine message would be stronger if many conservative pundits were vaccinated. This message would be persuasive than anything President Biden, Anthony Fauci or Rochelle Walensky, or any New York Times journalist could offer.
Yesterday, Biden was at the White House and tried to do his best. He said, “We’re looking at a winter full of severe illness, death, and even more if you’re not vaccinated.”
Less severe, more damage?
Scientists still believe Omicron may be less dangerous than they fear. Early evidence suggests that Omicron is less severe than previous versions. A substantial number of Americans who have not been vaccinated have had Covid before, which gives them some immunity.
Unvaccinated individuals are still at risk. Immunity decreases over time. Millions of adults are not immune because they were never vaccinated or infected.
Omicron is so contagious, even a slight decrease in severity, such as that which was estimated in an earlier analysis from South Africa, could still cause a significant spike in deaths. Dr. Robert Wachter of University of California San Francisco explained this to me.
A little math will show you the point. Imagine that the death risk in an Omicron case is 30% lower than it is in a Delta case, but that Omicron causes a tenfold rise in cases. Combining these two factors would result in a significant increase in deaths. Wachter stated, “It’s a bad number multiplied by a decent amount, and you end with a terrible number.”
Omicron poses a complex set of questions for Americans who have been vaccinated. I’ll be writing more next week about them, including when should I get my booster? Experts agree. What time should schools be closed? (Rarely.) What should elderly do to change their behavior? It all depends on their health and it is a difficult question.
The best advice for the unvaccinated is to get a shot. It may save your life. It is not clear if unvaccinated Americans will be able to hear the message from those they trust.