Covid-19 #3: 2023, Omicron

Table of Contents

Continuity

This Post

This post was written as an endless post (updated or republished periodically) started January 3, 2023. It follows earlier posts:

Omicron evolved

Omicron, Pango lineage B.1.1.529, was discoveed in South Afica and recognized as a variant of concern of Covid-19 by the WHO in November 2021. By the end of September, 2022, reports and studies of variants in the Omicron lineage that infect vaccinated persons and persons who have been infected were being published: BA.2.75.2, BA.5, BQ.1, BQ.1.1, BA.2.10.4, BA.4.6. (See Papers discussing). B.1.1.529 evolved into 5 lineages known as BA.1 and BA.2, etc.. The BA.2 lineage includes XBB. The first variant in the XBB line was identified in Singapore in August 2022. The latest WHO variant of concern, as of January 2023, is XBB.1.5, and it has been nicknamed Kraken. The nickname is not a formal scientific name. XBB 1.5 was identified in Singapore in late 2022, in the USA in November 2022 and in Canada in December 2022. These Omicron sub-variants are the most antibody-evasive strains tested.

The illness caused by Omicron and its subvariants is milder than the SARS caused by the original Covid-19 virus. It is severe, or fatal for some people. In aggregate, it has been more fatal for more individuals than the original virus and the early variants.

BC

After April 2022, the health authorities in BC reported the weekly reports of the BC Centre for Disease Control (“BCCDC”; an agency of the BC government) every Thursday. CBC reported the reports, generally promptly, in its BC News section. I listed those weekly reports:

The weekly CBC News, BC reports resumed in January 2023. All dates are in 2023.

DateSource, Section
byline
Article name
Jan. 3CBC, News, BC,
Courtney Dickson
B.C. officials report 5 cases of new COVID-19 subvariant that’s spreading rapidly in U.S.
Jan. 5 CBC, News, BC,B.C. has yet to see post-holidays spike in COVID-19 hospitalizations, health minister says
Jan. 6CBC, News, BC,
Courtney Dickson
B.C. activates emergency operations centres at 20 hospitals, anticipating spike in respiratory illness
Jan. 12CBC, News, BCCOVID-19 hospitalizations down in B.C. as province still waiting to see impact from holidays
Jan. 13CBC, News, BCB.C. confirms 24 cases of the new COVID-19 subvariant that has been spreading in the U.S.
Jan. 18CBC, News, BCKelowna asks for court injunction against anti-mask and vaccine mandate rallies
Jan. 19CBC, News, BCB.C. surpasses 5,000 deaths linked to COVID-19 as hospitalizations continue to dip
Jan. 20CBC, News, BC
Josh Grant
Police vs. Anti government story, not a Covid story
What we’ve learned about the deadly shootout between 2 brothers and police in Saanich, B.C.
Jan. 26CBC, News, BC
Zahra Premji
3 years into the COVID-19 pandemic, anti-Asian hate still prevalent in Metro Vancouver: advocates
Jan. 27CBC, News, BCCOVID-19 hospitalizations down 15%, while number of people in intensive care ticks upwards

Canada

Canadian national covid and vaccine stories. All dates are in 2023:

DateSource, Section
byline
Article name
Jan. 4CBC, News, WindsorA new Omicron variant is hitting the U.S. One expert expects Windsor to see an impact
Jan. 5CBC, Health,
Lauren Pelley
Why XBB.1.5 — the latest Omicron offshoot — could ‘outcompete’ other COVID-19 subvariants
Jan. 6CBC, Health,
Lauren Pelley
Canada’s flu season is winding down, data shows, but it may be the calm before a COVID storm
Jan. 20CBC, Health,
Stephanie Dubois
Get your booster dose as new Omicron offshoot spreads: Canada’s top doctor
Jan. 26CBC, Health,
Lauren Pelley
The COVID emergency might end after 3 long years — but the virus is still a threat
Jan. 26CBC, Politics
Darren Major
COVID-19 misinformation cost at least 2,800 lives and $300M, new report says

US, China, World Economic News

Public health medicine and policy, lockdowns, supply chains, protests about government policy in China, end of mandates in China, and the Omicron surge in China. All dates are in 2023 :

DateSource, Section
byline
Article name
Jan. 4CBC-Reuters, WorldCOVID-19 data from China underrepresents surge of cases and deaths, WHO says
Jan. 8CBC-Reuters, WorldTravellers stream into China as it says goodbye to zero-COVID policy
Jan. 10CBC-Reuters, WorldAs new Omicron subvariant spreads, WHO backs mask wearing on long flights
Jan.14CBC – AP, World
Joe McDonald
China reports nearly 60,000 people with COVID died since early December
Jan. 30CBC-AP, HealthWHO says coronavirus remains a global health emergency

Economics, Health, Rights, and Wishes

At large.All dates are in 2023 :

DateSource, section
Byline
Article name
Jan. 4UnHerd
(magazine, online)
Thomas Fazi, Toby Green
Why is the West locking down China?
Jan. 5Atlantic, Health,
Katherine Wu
How Worried Should We Be About XBB.1.5?
Jan. 30UnHerd
(magazine, online)
Thomas Fazi, Toby Green
Why are excess deaths still so high?

BC, 2023

No Fear

People in BC have largely given up wearing masks or paying attention to social distancing, and are acting as if the SARS disease has vanished and been replaced by a mild flu.

The government and public health professionals have largely removed the mandates – vaccination, proof of vaccination, social distancing, masks. A large part of the public wants to be cared for in the event of illness.

The government treated Omicron as a minor illness through the spring, summer and autumn of 2022. The Omicron variants were recognized as contagious, but the illness was regarded as a mild flu. The government treated the illness as treatable, to be managed by providing health care including hospitalization and intensive care. The public authorities gave the public months of relief from masking, social distancing and other public health measures. Public heath mandates were dismantled except in health care locations – hospitals, testing and diagnostic services and medical offices. The government viewed vaccine hesitation as a source of discontent with governance, and has largely tolerated the resistance to mandates.

Health care professionals agree that the illness is treatable in most cases. Health care practitioners are unhappy about working conditions, pay and policy.

Freedom Rallies

The provincial authorities in BC did not take action against anti-vax protesters in 2022. Local governments have started to ask the courts to grant orders against protesters and protest organizers.

Some of the protesters are protest veterans. Some are novices. Some are true belivers in an ideology. Many Canadians who protested vaccines and mandates were adherents of QAnon and other anti-government movements.

Some are impulsive and naive. Protesting gives people a sense of meaning and status and some happiness.

Many of protester organizers appear to be adherents of PseudolawTax Protesters, Sovereign Citizens, Freemen on the land – a loose association of persons who oppose obedience to civil law on the principle that they may exercise their own judgment guided to higher law or natural intuition. The most appropriate analogy to religion is that protester organizers and some protesters respond to government rules in a Gnostic (or Manichean) mode – they have higher secret knowledge – rather than Antinomian. Some of the organizers also have a monetary hustle. They are making contacts with people who show up and selling them pseudolaw advice.

Some of the organizers may be trying to bring down a system.

Some anti-government movements in the United States have advocated violence, armed themselves, organized militias, prepared for violence and caused violent riots. Some adherents of anti-government movements have engaged in acts of violence against public officials.

The public authorities have had concerns that some protesters are adherents of anti-government movements. This partially explains why the 2022 Trucker Convoy, the Ottawa occupation, the ancillary protests in other cities, and the border crossing blockades (Windsor Ont., Coutts Alta.) were managed they way they were.

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