Omicron 'wave of fear' fueling 'pandemic of lunacy': Is Dr. Makary right?

Fiesta San Antonio Commission

Fact Box

  • On November 26, 2021, the World Health Organization announced a new COVID variant, Omicron (B.1.1.529), first reported from South Africa on November 24, 2021. Delta was the previous COVID variant. 
  • Dr. Marty Makary told Fox News’ “Brian Kilmeade Show” on December 17, 2021, “We’re seeing this massive new wave of fear that is fueling our second pandemic after COVID-19, which is a pandemic of lunacy, which is omicron. Now I call it omi-cold. [...] this is far more mild.”
  • The White House released a statement on November 26, 2021, banning travel from Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, the Republic of South Africa, and Zimbabwe. The UK also added six African countries to their travel “red list.”
  • As of November 26, 2021, 203.2 million people have been fully vaccinated in the United States which is 61.2% of the population, while 72.4% have had at least one dose. 
  • Johns Hopkins research shows COVID spikes nationwide have been rising at a higher rate than before the vaccines were available despite more than half the country being fully vaccinated.

Andrew (No)

Perhaps Dr. Makary views illness as inevitable, but most people who get flu shots, wash their hands and practice good hygiene do not. Though the Omicron variant of the coronavirus may have milder symptoms, infection is not the norm, nor should it be seen as inevitable. This virus can kill, cause pain, and leave long-term damage. We have seen how the increased transmissibility of the Delta variant has ravaged the nation and experts are right to express concern over this even more contagious version, especially as hospitals nationwide are once again nearing capacity right before many people travel to meet friends and relatives for the holidays.

Toward the end of his segment, Dr. Makary stated that 'we've got to reduce testing in low-risk situations,' as if to say that if we don't know people have the virus, the pandemic will somehow magically be over. Like nearly every aspect of medicine, early detection has proven hugely beneficial in mitigating the pandemic. The rapidity and ease of access of lateral flow tests have allowed many people to continue working or visit friends with confidence, even after potential exposure. Decreasing testing would lead to more people spreading the virus, potentially without realizing they are infected, as the Omicron variant appears to have milder symptoms. Unfortunately, everyone reacts differently to the virus, particularly those with weak immune systems. It is absolutely unethical to allow rampant transmission of a virus that could potentially kill people simply because it is inconvenient to take basic precautions. How a medical professional could seem this out of touch with common sense health practices is surprising; Dr. Makary is wrong to spread these dangerous ideas. 

Jani (Yes)

Dr. Marty Makary is a practicing physician and surgeon at Johns Hopkins Hospital and also serves as a professor of health policy and management at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. He has the experience, training, medical knowledge, and the qualifications to speak intelligently on the Omicron variant. 

Dr. Makary refers to a recent study from the University of Hong Kong that explains this viral variant's behavior and why the symptoms seem to be milder than expected. The Omicron variant does spread rapidly and has been detected in more than thirty countries already. Unfortunately, world leaders are overreacting to the new variant by enforcing renewed travel restrictions and vaccine mandates, refuting any earlier accusations of a lackadaisical response to the pandemic. Their knee-jerk reactions have caused some states to cancel elective surgeries while spreading fear and panic among the public. 

While leaders refer to their actions as 'preemptive,' they are not considering the consequential havoc wreaked by more lockdowns. Studies show the catastrophic ripple effects of these precautionary lockdowns that were thought to be for the greater good. Strict lockdowns and COVID-related restrictions lead to a sharp increase in depression, suicide, and the mortality rate in general. Children and youth pay the highest price of lockdowns even though they are in the lowest COVID risk category

With a constant snapshot of infection rates and death tallies on every news screen, fearmongering and pandemic politics have caused existential anxiety across the globe. This irrational lunacy needs to come to an end.

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