by Roger Kimball
Last week, I dusted off my Chinese-flu soapbox and said a word or two about (cue the scary music) the Omicron variant. It sounds like the title of a Robert Ludlum novel, doesn’t it? A friend told me about a parlor game that the journalist Christopher Hitchens and his pals used to play in which the object was to contrive names for Shakespeare’s plays that sounded like the title of a Ludlum novel. Hamlet was “The Elsinore Conundrum.” I am sorry that Hitch is not still with us to try his hand at the Omicron variant.
So far, I have to say, it’s been pretty much of a dud—unless, that is, you’re the stock market, which has taken a beating this last week or so, in part because of this new kid on the medical block (there is also that much more toxic financial emergency, the Biden Administration, but that’s for another day). The new variant has also been a godsend for scolds, nags, bureaucrats, and meddlesome so-called public health
officials nannies who are just itching for another excuse to lock down your world, introduce new travel restrictions, and impose new testing protocols.
How will it all play out? TSTS—Too Soon to Say, but I suspect this sequel is going to be a flop at the box office. For one thing, although only recently named, there is abundant evidence that Omicron has been around for months. If it had been previously unnamed, that is perhaps because it is no big deal. The South African doctor who first identified the strain noted that while the virus was possibly more contagious than versions named for letters earlier in the Greek alphabet, symptoms tended to be mild, indeed “very mild.” A typical news report notes that “patients mostly suffered from mild muscle aches, scratchy throat and dry cough.” (Remember colds? Remember the flu?)
So why the panic? Partly, it is because panic is an antidote to boredom. People are heavily bored. Panic also licenses the people who want to run your life to, well, run your life. “Most Omicron cases so far have been mild,” runs one headline, “but experts say it will take weeks to understand how severe the variant can be.” Ah, “experts”! What would we do without them?
One thing we’d do is ride public transportation without wearing a mask. But apparently there are sufficient numbers of people who are cowed enough, or bored enough, to don the little badge of their submission and pretend that they are not only “staying safe” but keeping you safe, too. Where did your mother tell you that road paved with good intentions led?
Here’s the reality: the COVID “pandemic” is over. I hasten to add: also, it will never end.
No, I am not pretending to be G. W. F. Hegel, for whom no day was complete that did not include a little contradiction masquerading as wisdom.
What I mean is this: COVID is a coronavirus, not dissimilar to the virus that causes the common cold. It is everywhere. It is constantly mutating. The world will never be rid of it. Nevertheless, the pandemic—or, to dial things down a bit, the epidemic—is over precisely because the virus is ubiquitous and poses a serious threat only to a tiny sliver of the population.
As I said last week, one of the great things about COVID is that it has effectively abolished death from old age. These days, you really have to work at dying from something that is not COVID. Last year, there were some 700 deaths from the flu in America. Usually, there are at least 25,000 to 35,000, and often more. Is there anything COVID can’t do?
Hospital administrators love the disease, for it has kept a steady stream of government premiums flowing into their coffers. At one point hospitals were paid $13,000 for every person admitted as a COVID case, and another $39,000 for every patient put on a ventilator. “What do you think Barney? Should we put Mrs. Smith on a ventilator?”
And of course vaccines are big business. I am not anti-vaccination. Indeed, I’ve been jabbed twice and am even thinking about getting the St. Anthony Fauci™ booster. The rapid development of the various COVID vaccines was an impressive medical achievement of American technology and a notable logistical achievement of the Trump Administration. But the very rapidity of its invention and dissemination means that it was not as thoroughly tested as many other vaccines. How could it have been? There wasn’t time. I don’t see why people find it difficult to admit this.
And I don’t know why there is this official insistence that everyone be vaccinated and then the further insistence that you must wear a mask, practice social (i.e., anti-social distancing) distancing, and be tested every 15 minutes.
Actually, I think I do know why this happened, in direct contradiction of the earlier promise that, once vaccinated, we would be mask free. Mostly, it’s about control, both the optics of control and the little frisson that comes with the exercise of power, lording it over other people.
It’s also about money. Lots and lots and lots of money. Look at the credits of a newly made movie or television program. There is an entire chapter devoted to people populating the new cottage industry of COVID. I doubt they come cheap. You’ll discover “COVID compliance supervisors,” people handling “COVID logistics,” “COVID digital tracking,” “COVID digital analysis,” and the like. I wonder if you can major in those subjects at college yet?
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. is far more skeptical of vaccines in general than I am, but he makes some good points in his new book, The Real Anthony Fauci: Bill Gates, Big Pharma, and the Global War on Democracy and Public Health. Did you know that 45 percent of the FDA budget comes from pharmaceutical companies? Did you know that Anthony Fauci’s agency owns half the Moderna patents? Did you know the extent of Bill Gates’ involvement in food and medical companies that cater to Africa?
Those are just a few of the tidbits Kennedy shares in his disturbing book. Tucker Carlson aired an eye-opening interview with Kennedy. The media went crazy over it, claiming that it was “nutso,” “conspiracy-ridden,” etc. Naturally, he has been tossed off social media for peddling “vaccine misinformation.” As Gertrude observed in response to the play Hamlet put on for her entertainment, the lady doth protest too much, methinks.” I think Kennedy ably diagnoses the creation of a “track and trace” surveillance state, “the systematic demolition of our Bill of Rights,” the obliteration of the middle class by tech elites who have profited mightily from COVID. Watch it yourself and see what you think.
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Roger Kimball is editor and publisher of The New Criterion and the president and publisher of Encounter Books. He is the author and editor of many books, including The Fortunes of Permanence: Culture and Anarchy in an Age of Amnesia (St. Augustine’s Press), The Rape of the Masters (Encounter), Lives of the Mind: The Use and Abuse of Intelligence from Hegel to Wodehouse (Ivan R. Dee), and Art’s Prospect: The Challenge of Tradition in an Age of Celebrity (Ivan R. Dee).
Photo “President Joe Biden Takes His Mask Off to Deliver Remarks on COVID-19 and the Economy” by The White House.