Opinion | Covid 3.0, Biden 2.0 and Trump Number … Well, We’re Not Quite Sure

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By Gail Collins and Bret Stephens

Ms. Collins and Mr. Stephens are opinion columnists. They converse every week.

Bret Stephens: Happy ’22, Gail. Hope your year is off to a good start. Eager to get your thoughts on Covid 3.0, which nearly every other person I know seems to have.

Gail Collins: Happy New Year, Bret. I had a nice long holiday with plane travel, visits to see family and friends, and a few other outings. No Covid interruptions whatsoever, but I have gotten warnings from friends whose friends are sick, and a neighbor who just had a really bad episode.

But I remember other holidays in which the flu laid a bunch of people low. Still keep thinking that if everyone takes all the vaccine shots, wears masks in public and avoids scenes like, say, jam-packed bars, it’s still possible to live a pretty normal life.

Do you disagree?

Bret: I think we need to treat Omicron fundamentally differently than we did previous variants. Everyone should get triple vaxxed. But the idea that we can “stop the spread” or “flatten the curve” is unrealistic, probably unnecessary and possibly counterproductive.

Boosted people can still get sick, though for the most part not too severely. More than half of the people in New York City hospitals who have Covid aren’t there because of Covid. Testing doesn’t always detect the virus, and when it does it’s often too late. Mask wearing hasn’t appreciably slowed it, at least not with the surgical or cloth masks most people prefer. And contact tracing is pointless with something that spreads this quickly. Maybe instead of trying to flatten the curve, we should accept the spike, and think of Omicron as the coronavirus’s version of the old chickenpox party, the sort my mom took me to as a kid so I could get it over with and gain immunity.

Gail: It’s been interesting hearing some of the anti-vaxxers also denouncing other vaccines against childhood diseases. Still haven’t heard any of them call for bringing back smallpox.

Bret: A pox on them, metaphorically speaking. On a different subject, I bet you never found yourself being thankful to Dick Cheney for standing up for truth, decency and the American way.

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