Will omicron make us restart our fight against the pandemic?
Frida Ghitis, (@fridaghitis), a former CNN correspondent and producer, is a world affairs columnist.
She is a weekly opinion writer for CNN, a contributing columnist for The Washington Post, and a columnist for World Politics Review.
The opinions expressed in this column are yours.
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If we need more proof of the magnitude of the threat posed by anti-vaccine activists, conspiracy theorists and irresponsible public figures, one need only see the emergence of variants, such as the omicron, of the Covid- 19. As long as large segments of the world's population remain unvaccinated, the virus will survive, mutating in new forms, disrupting our lives and increasing the number of illnesses and deaths.
Any time a Fox News character, politician, or social media influencer promotes misconceptions about the vaccine or disparages scientists fighting the pandemic, they are not only making their listeners more likely to contract the virus. coronavirus, but they are also contributing to our own seemingly endless pandemic situation.
Minute by minute: the omicron variant of the coronavirus advances around the world
The omicron variant was first identified in South Africa, although we do not yet know exactly how or where it was first developed.
It might not have turned up if more vaccines had been available, but that's likely not the whole story.
There is no doubt that we must get more vaccines to the poorest countries.
But it is also true that in South Africa the lack of vaccines is not a problem.
The problem, at least in part, is skepticism about the safety of the vaccine and the severity of the virus fueled by conspiracy theorists and their echo chambers.
The problem of resistance to vaccines, guilty of the new variants
Days before the first omicron news was released last week, South African authorities told Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson to delay a planned shipment of vaccines because they had an excess of unused vaccines, even though less than a third of the population was inoculated. .
The problem, according to authorities, is resistance to vaccines.
Like people around the world, South Africans hear the toxic message, often coming from the United States, that they should refuse the injection.
That's what a South African scientist discovered when her mother forwarded her a video with outlandish claims about the vaccine, which her prayer group had found on Facebook.
It came from the same osteopath whose ideas seem to get stranger every day, now including the claim that the vaccine contains a "deadly parasite" that creates "neural networks" in vaccinated people, which can "influence their thoughts and actions."
The ridiculousness of the claims is increasing, especially on Fox News, which has become a provider not only of unhinged ideas but of their most offensive variants.
Mexico detects the first case of omicron.
AMLO gives details of the patient 1:07
It's hard to top the once-respected Lara Logan, the South African reporter who left "60 Minutes" after a scandal and joined Fox News soon after.
During a prime-time appearance on Fox News Monday, Logan equated Dr. Anthony Fauci - America's leading infectious disease physician and one of the world's most respected scientists - with none other than Dr. Josef Mengele, the Nazi doctor known as the "Angel of Death" for conducting brutally cruel experiments on concentration camp prisoners during World War II.
It's hard to imagine that insanity, smears, and the assault on science can be much worse, but it's even harder to believe that they won't.
Holocaust survivor: It's disgusting to compare Fauci to Mengele 3:24
Logan's words echoed around the world, provoking a furious reaction.
The Auschwitz Museum in Poland, at the site where the Nazis murdered more than a million human beings, mostly Jews, rebuked Logan, noting that "exploiting the tragedy of people who were victims of pseudo-medical experiments at Auschwitz in a debate about vaccines, pandemics and people fighting to save lives is shameful. "
He called it "a sad symptom of moral and intellectual decadence."
The American Jewish Committee demanded an apology.
But Logan is not the only one among the personalities of Fox and the politicians of the Republican Party who promotes falsehoods and false equivalences.
The Role of Republicans in Rejecting Vaccines
Since the beginning of the pandemic, Republicans have turned COVID-19 into a political soccer ball.
Texas Senator Ted Cruz famously and wrongly predicted that if Joe Biden became president, Democrats would immediately declare that "everything has magically improved" with the pandemic.
The Republican Party's deadly strategy of denying the seriousness of the problem and often discouraging vaccination has a goal that is not difficult to elucidate.
It came to light last summer when a Fox News reporter asked White House press secretary Jen Psaki "whose fault is it" that the pandemic is getting worse.
The implication seemed to be that it was Biden's fault.
The worse the pandemic goes, by this logic, the worse it will be for Biden.
They confirm five cases in New York of the variant omicron 1:15
Then there's the opposite logic, courtesy of one of the most Trumpist members of Congress.
As soon as the omicron variant was known, Texas Representative Ronny Jackson, a controversial White House doctor turned politician, jumped to question the very existence of omicron.
"Here comes VEM: the Mid-Term Election Variant," he tweeted, stating that it was part of a Democratic plan to "DECEIVE" (in capital letters) in the elections.
The pandemic remains serious in the United States
Sadly, for Republican voters, this strategy of turning criticism of the pandemic response into a political strategy, even with contradictory logic, is leading to a worsening death toll among their own ranks.
Tragically for everyone else, it is also contributing to a never-ending pandemic.
In October, 25 out of 100,000 people living in counties that voted overwhelmingly for Trump died of COVID-19.
That was triple the death rate in the counties that mostly support Biden, according to data analysis cited by
The New York Times
Some people may feel unseemly satisfaction in the knowledge that anti-vaccine measures are taking the supporters of those who promote them, but the reality is that the virus is not limited to those who make fun of it.
Yes, you have to vaccinate everyone, everywhere.
But as long as there is a massive propaganda effort aimed at preventing people from accepting the vaccine, the arrival of omicron is yet another warning shot, a sign that the pandemic may take advantage of social weaknesses, divisions and cynicism to continue to prevent us from recovering. our full life.
Those who tell the lies are responsible, at least in part, for everyone continuing to suffer.