The Omicron variant of COVID-19, more infectious but milder than its predecessors, has now contributed to 90 percent of the cases within the United States and around an average of 2,250,000 cases worldwide. Sent into a ceaseless pandemic limbo, medical systems still feel the stress of an imminent medical collapse. President Joe Biden introduced two regulations that impose vaccination requirements for workers on January 8th to the Supreme Court. The reality of the situation is polluted by political division and petty squabble, which will most likely prevent anything from developing.
Unfortunately, the subsequent pattern for each and every mutation has produced what appear to be more transmissible and infectious variants. After two years of waiting for the unrelenting pandemic, we are still stuck in a continuous loop of death, sickness and chaos. Early vaccine mandates would have provided a buffer to slow down future mutations and possibly prevent future outbreaks of COVID-19. Unfortunately, due to politicalization and an aversion to any form of bipartisanship, a broken, and even more divided democracy, is hopeless to pass, if anything, a federal vaccine mandate, through the justice system.
The nature of highly contagious strains does mean that an endemic future is most likely the future of the United States. The fact is, yearly or even bimonthly booster shots are not sustainable. A faltering and overwhelmed medical system will not be capable of dealing with the increasingly contagious strains of COVID-19. This isn’t to discredit the ability of the vaccine to provide protection and act as a safeguard against transmission and infection but to pose as warning for the inevitable consequences of political division and inaction.
There are several benefits to having a vaccine mandate. Reducing the current strain that is imposed on medical health care providers. As of January 9, around 140,000 patients were administered to a hospital within the United States. That is an increase of 86 percent, as of the last two weeks, driven by mostly unvaccinated, immunocompromised and older patients. Dr. Mashid Abir, an emergency physician at the University of Michigan, told The New York Times, “even the most dedicated individuals are going to be tired and worn out, if not burned out and dealing with mental health issues as a consequence.”
Whilst a vaccination mandate may be one of the best tools to stopping the rampant spread of omicron and halting the rise of hospitalizations, these statistics bring to light a much more jaring problem: poltilization and institutional skepticism. Because of the way COVID-19 had been historically represented through the media and other new outlets, the amount of political traction that has now seeped into a global health emergency halted many of the safeguards that had already existed to stop the spread of COVID-19. Masking and vaccinations should have been treated as a necessity, instead of a political tool to push an agenda. News outlets should treat the global pandemic less like a game show and help people who may not be as informed or are still skeptical about vaccinations and the nature of COVID-19, get access to digestible, informative sources. World leaders, regardless of political position or orientation, should know that getting people masked, vaccinated and tested is a responsibility, not a campaign tool.
By: Andrew Chinn