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Omicron is the latest variant slamming the world back to its COVID reality.  Depositphoto
Omicron is the latest variant slamming the world back to its COVID reality.  Depositphoto

Let’s not make 2022, 2020-two | OP-ED

With the Omicron variant on the rise worldwide, it once again falls to the general public to take responsibility for one another.

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The headline for this article comes from a tweet I saw a few days back pondering another year of COVID-19.

It may not feel like it, but this month, the world officially ended its second full year of the COVID-19 pandemic and began its third. Come January 2022, the U.S. can say the same.

Now, the country and world are not in the same place as two years ago with all the uncertainty, panic buying and lockdowns, but with continued discovery of variants for COVID-19, the pandemic still has no end in sight.

Enter: Omicron

The latest variant is Omicron. First discovered in South Africa, it was deemed a variant of concern by the World Health Organization for its higher transmissibility on Nov. 24. Three weeks later, it has spread much like its predecessors to every corner of the world.

It’s still not the dominant variant — that’s still Delta, which appeared in India in late 2020 — but it could very well be in an even shorter amount of time.

Like with Delta, Omicron’s transmissibility has already brought restrictions back to travel and other everyday activities.

In Philadelphia, the city will re-implement its indoor mask mandate starting on Jan. 3, 2022, meaning the new year will be rang in once again with smiles covered.

On the national scale, President Joe Biden quickly enacted travel bans to and from South Africa and eight other African nations. All foreign travelers must be fully vaccinated to come to the states, and now, all travelers no matter their nationality must present a negative COVID-19 test 24 hours before traveling to the U.S.

The move has been criticized far and wide by a population tired of restrictions, but it’s what to expect should Omicron follow a similar trajectory to Delta.

 This month, the world officially ended its second full year of the COVID-19 pandemic and began its third

The same story of accountability

Available vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson all proved still effective against preventing serious cases of COVID resulting from the Delta variant, and early booster data shows they could be effective against Omicron, but more research is needed.

However, it could prove difficult to think about boosters when still only a little over 60% of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated as of Dec. 12, 2021. Of that group, only 16% have received booster doses.

Once again, what the future of the U.S. and world looks like will come down to how its population continues to respond to the evolving pandemic. It’s frankly failed so far, and why we’re looking at more restrictions heading into the new year rather than finally making some vacation plans.

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