Monday Nov. 29, 2021
Since our article on Saturday Nov. 27 here is some of the further news about COVID-Omicron. The virus is now identified in over a half dozen European countries (and is likely in most of Europe), Australia, Israel, and Hong Kong. Fourteen people on a plane that landed in the Netherlands coming from South Africa were positive for the Omicron variant. All arriving passengers are now being tested and held until results are available. Japan which has not yet identified Omicron in country, and Israel, have banned all foreigners from entering the country. Many countries, including the U.S. have less restrictive policies. Physicians world-wide including Dr. Francis Collins, Head of the National Institutes of Health and Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases have said it will take two weeks to know much more. They are also reminding people that we don’t know how it will affect vaccinated and boosted people and whether it will induce more severe symptoms and of the need to use mitigation methods including vaccines, masking, and social distancing.
Saturday, November 27, 2021. 1:00 PM
Yesterday morning we had not heard of SARS-CoV-2 variant B.1.1.529. The New York Times did not mention it and The Economist had no information in their morning news feed. It was then one of many variants of the virus that causes COVID. Then the World Health Organization named it Omicron. WHO reserves Greek letter names for variants of particular concern. Omicron is one of them.
The global stock markets plunged with U.S. major indices losing more than 2% in a half day of trading. Lockouts have been instituted and announced. Governor Hochul has declared a state of emergency. Doctor Fauci is making the rounds of all the major media news organizations. How severe Omicron will be and whether the current vaccines will be effective, and if so, to what extent is unknown.
Below is a compilation of what is known and unknown as of the time this article is being written. Most of it is open to revision.
‘I don’t think globalization is coming to an end. I think the global system is in crisis. I think every major institution in our society is in crisis …
“I think the (World Health Organization) is a discredited organization. I think the White House is a discredited institution.
“I’m sorry to say this because I know it’s your former employer: I think the New York Times does not have the credibility it once had. It reads like the Guardian or the Nation. It doesn’t read like a newspaper.
“There is a crisis of credibility and trust.
“I don’t think that means institutions are going to go away. What it means is those institutions are going to need new leaders who have a different world view.”
“Apocaplyse Never” author
Interviewed on C-Span.
LETTER from MICHAEL JEROME
Editor’s Note: Michael Jerome of Cooperstown chairs the Polio Plus Committee of the Rotary E-Club of Global Trekkers, a role he played for years at the Cooperstown club.
Sixty years ago, every parent in the western world feared their child would be afflicted with the crippling disease of polio.
Vaccines developed by Drs. Jonas Salk and Albert Sabin enabled the U.S., Canada and several European countries to become polio free by the early 1990s.
Health officials at the time understood that as long as the polio virus exists anywhere in the world, the chance of its transmission elsewhere is highly probable; possibly resulting in the reemergence of the disease in previously polio-free areas.
The idea of eliminating polio from the globe took hold.
This inspiration caused leaders of Rotary International in 1979 to begin a multi-year effort to immunize millions of children in the Philippines. The success of this project inspired Rotary to make a promise to the world to eradicate polio worldwide.
Rotary International and its partners in the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) have made great strides since 1988 in the sustained effort. Polio cases have dropped by 99.9 percent, from 350,000 cases in 1988 in 125 countries to only 176 cases of wild poliovirus in 2019 in just two countries: Afghanistan and Pakistan.
In August 2020, the World Health Organization declared the Africa region – all 47 countries – free of the wild poliovirus, a major milestone towards Rotary’s goal. In impoverished parts of the world, the wild poliovirus still exists. Thus, the chance of its transmission elsewhere by travelers remains highly probable.
Rotary and its GPEI partners remain optimistic. As reported in a recent issue of The Rotarian magazine, the legacy of this campaign is “more than eradicating a deadly disease from the planet, it’s also building a stronger health system that provides better access to lifesaving interventions for the world’s most vulnerable children.”
The valuable lessons learned from the polio eradication efforts have been utilized to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, which has temporarily halted all global vaccination efforts.
Research facilities built for disease analysis, polio program infrastructures and partnerships, and surveillance systems designed to locate infected persons are currently being used by local health care workers to contain the spread of the coronavirus.
With polio nearly eradicated, Rotary and its partners remain optimistic and intend to reach every child with the polio vaccine. Full funding and political commitment are needed to ensure that this paralyzing disease does not return to polio-free countries, putting children everywhere at risk.
Rotary has committed to raise $50 million each year to support global polio eradication efforts. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation pledged to match those funds 2-to-1, for a total yearly contribution of $150 million.
Please join millions who are working to raise awareness and funds to end the debilitating scourge of polio, a vaccine-preventable disease.
I urge you to reflect on your good fortune to live in a polio-free country and contribute to the global effort to End Polio Now by visiting endpolio.org and click on “Donate.” Thank you!