The Merchants of Omicron Fear | National Review

The Merchants of Omicron Fear | National Review


A nurse prepares coronavirus vaccines at a mobile pop-up vaccination clinic in Detroit, Mich., July 26, 2021. (Emily Elconin/Reuters)

It’s been nearly six weeks since Omicron was detected in South Africa, and so far, the evidence from there, as well as Denmark and the U.K., shows it to be highly contagious but with mild symptoms. Hospitalization rates are over nine times lower than for previous COVID strains; deaths.

But as Heather Mac Donald of the Manhattan Institute points out, public-health officials and the media are engaged in a type of Project Fear to gin up Omicron hysteria.

Her entire New York Post piece is worth reading, but she identifies six fear mongering strategies in this excerpt:

1. Create group fear 

Man-on-the-street interviews quote Nervous Nellies exclusively and create a climate of peak anxiety. . . .

2. Buttress group fear with expert opinion

The only public health experts whom the media quote are those determined to put the most dire spin on Omicron. . . . They may grudgingly admit that Omicron symptoms are disproportionately mild, but rush to assert that there are still many as-yet-unrealized grounds for worry. . . .

There are apparently no circumstances that would warrant a less-than-totalitarian response in advance of any actual disaster. The yearning for more draconian lockdowns and more control over the private sector is palpable.

3. Manufacture epistemological uncertainty and insist on it as long as possible 

The media intone repeatedly that much remains uncertain about Omicron, including how likely it is to cause severe disease. But we already have a good picture of that likelihood from the South Africa experience: very unlikely.

4. Bury both good news and dissenters from the bad news

. . . . Are there no experts who think that Omicron is not an emerging threat? Apparently not, if you read the mainstream media. If any dissenters do break through, they will be as demonized and silenced by Big Tech as the lockdown skeptics in the scientific community were at the start of the COVID era.

5. Omit relevant context 

We hear constantly that 1,300 people are dying a day from COVID. By comparison, about 2,000 people die each day from cancer and 1,600 from heart disease. Their deaths get no coverage. COVID was the leading cause of death in the United States only in January 2021, even among those 85 and older.

. . . Restrictive COVID policies exacerbated sickness in the highest-ranking categories of mortality, a toll that will only grow. Patients put off lifesaving cancer screenings, having been spooked away from medical facilities. Obesity worsened, as gyms closed and people packed on the pounds.

6. Flog the case count 

. . . Case counts are a particularly deceptive measure of pandemic severity, when so many of the new cases are mild to asymptomatic. . . hospitalization rates in New York City, the leading wedge of Omicron, remain comparatively low.

Mac Donald says there’s hope the rest of the country will act more rationally toward Omicron. She concludes that we have turned the equivalent of the common cold into a potent weapon against the resumption of civil society.





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About the Author

Tony Beasley
Tony Beasley writes for the Local News, US and the World Section of ANH.