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Omicron, a new Covid-19 variant with high number of mutations, sparks travel bans and worries scientists

<i>Leon Neal/Getty Images</i><br/>A new Covid-19 variant with high number of mutations sparks travel bans and worries scientists. The UK suspended flights from several nations in southern Africa.
Getty Images
Leon Neal/Getty Images
A new Covid-19 variant with high number of mutations sparks travel bans and worries scientists. The UK suspended flights from several nations in southern Africa.

By David McKenzie, Ghazi Balkiz, Ivana Kottasová and Laura Smith-Spark, CNN

The discovery of a new and potentially more transmissible coronavirus variant by South African health authorities has sparked a forceful reaction across the world, with a number of countries banning travelers from several southern African countries.

The World Health Organization announced Friday it has designated the newly identified coronavirus variant, B.1.1.529, as a variant of concern, named Omicron.

Besides South Africa, the newly identified variant has been detected in Botswana, Hong Kong and Belgium.

It appears to be spreading rapidly in parts of South Africa and scientists are concerned its unusually high number of mutations could make it more transmissible and result in immune evasion.

The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control said there is a “high to very high” risk the new variant will spread in Europe.

WHO’s Technical Advisory Group on SARS-CoV-2 Virus Evolution (TAG-VE), an independent group of experts, met Friday to discuss the variant, a WHO statement said.

The advisers recommended WHO designate the variant as “of concern,” referencing the variant’s large number of mutations, the possibility of increased risk of reinfection and other evidence.

A number of studies are underway, and WHO will update member states and the public as needed, the WHO statement said.

WHO called on countries to enhance their surveillance and sequencing efforts to better understand coronavirus variants.

“Initially it looked like some cluster outbreaks, but from yesterday, the indication came from our scientists from the Network of Genomic Surveillance that they were observing a new variant,” Joe Phaahla, South Africa’s Minister of Health, said Thursday, stressing it is currently unclear where the variant first emerged.

South African officials initially said there was one confirmed case in a traveler from South Africa to Hong Kong. Then Hong Kong health authorities on Friday identified a second case of the B.1.1.529 variant among returning travelers on the same floor of a designated quarantine hotel.

Also on Friday, the Belgian government said one individual who had recently arrived from abroad, and was not vaccinated, had tested positive for the new variant, marking the first case in Europe.

Tulio de Oliveira, the director of South Africa’s Center for Epidemic Response and Innovation, said the variant has “many more mutations than we have expected,” adding it is “spreading very fast, and we expect to see pressure in the health system in the next few days and weeks.”

Viruses, including the one that causes Covid-19, mutate regularly and most new mutations do not have significant impact on the virus’s behavior and the illness they cause.

Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of Brown University’s School of Public Health, told CNN the variant was “acting differently,” however, and it “looks like it’s much more contagious than even the Delta variant.”

A number of countries, among them the United States, have imposed new travel restrictions and markets in the US, Asia and Europe fell sharply following the news of its discovery.

Acting on advice from US health officials, US President Joe Biden will restrict travel from South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique and Malawi, administration officials told CNN.

This does not apply to American citizens and lawful permanent residents. As with all international travelers, they must still test negative prior to travel.

What we know about the new variant

Lawrence Young, a virologist and a professor of molecular oncology at Warwick Medical School in the United Kingdom, said the Omicron variant was “very worrying.”

“It is the most heavily mutated version of the virus we have seen to date. This variant carries some changes we’ve seen previously in other variants but never all together in one virus. It also has novel mutations,” Young said in a statement.

The variant has a high number of mutations, about 50 overall. Crucially, South African genomic scientists said Thursday more than 30 of the mutations were found in the spike protein — the structure the virus uses to get into the cells they attack.

Neil Ferguson, the director of the MRC Centre for Global Infectious Disease Analysis at Imperial College London, said in a statement the number of mutations on the spike protein was “unprecedented.”

“The spike protein gene [is] the protein which is the target of most vaccines. There is therefore a concern that this variant may have a greater potential to escape prior immunity than previous variants,” Ferguson said.

Sharon Peacock, a professor of Public Health and Microbiology at the University of Cambridge, said while the overall number of Covid-19 cases is relatively low in South Africa, there has been a rapid increase in the past seven days.

She said while 273 new infections were recorded on November 16, the figure had risen to more than 1,200 cases by November 25, with more than 80% coming from Gauteng province.

“The epidemiological picture suggests that this variant may be more transmissible, and several mutations are consistent with enhanced transmissibility,” Peacock said in a comment shared by the UK’s Science Media Centre.

She added while the significance of the mutations and their combination is unknown, some of those present in the latest variant have been associated in others with immune evasion.

Jha, too, said scientists were concerned by the speed with which the Omicron variant has taken off. “This one has become dominant very quickly in South Africa, in the regions where it’s been found, within a matter of days to weeks as opposed to months,” he told CNN.

What we don’t know

Peacock, de Oliveira, Ferguson, Jha and other scientists said it was too early to tell the full impact of the mutations on vaccine efficacy.

De Oliveira stressed the Covid-19 shots are still the best tool against the virus, adding lab studies still need to be carried out to test vaccine and antibody evasion.

“I don’t think we’re going to see a situation where the vaccines will be rendered useless,” said Jha. “I think that’s exceedingly unlikely. The question is, is there a tiny hit to vaccine efficacy, or is there a large hit? I think we’ll get some preliminary data probably in the next few days.”

More studies also need to be conducted to understand the clinical severity of the variant compared to previous variants.

It is also unclear where the new mutation emerged from. While it was first identified in South Africa, it may have come from elsewhere.

“It is important not to assume that the variant first emerged in South Africa,” Peacock said.

Vaccine maker Moderna said Friday the combination of mutations seen in the new Omicron variant represents a “significant potential risk to accelerate the waning of natural and vaccine-induced immunity.”

The company said it was working rapidly to test the ability of its vaccine to neutralize the new variant and data was expected in the coming weeks.

AstraZeneca, another vaccine maker, said it was looking to understand the impact the Omicron variant has on its coronavirus vaccine, and was testing its antibody combination therapy against the new variant.

The platform used in the vaccine enables the company to respond quickly to new variants, a spokesperson for the company said Friday.

“AstraZeneca is also already conducting research in locations where the variant has been identified, namely in Botswana and Eswatini, that will enable us to collect real world data of Vaxzevria against this new virus variant,” the spokesperson said.

AstraZeneca’s vaccine is not currently authorized for use in the US.

Johnson & Johnson said it is testing its vaccine against the new variant.

Quick reaction

Scientists have praised South African health authorities for their quick reaction to a Covid-19 outbreak in the country’s Gauteng province, which led to the discovery of the new variant.

When cases in the province started to rise at a higher rate than elsewhere, health experts focused on sequencing samples from those who tested positive, which allowed them to quickly identify the B.1.1.529 variant.

Peacock said the South African health ministry and its scientists “are to be applauded in their response, their science, and in sounding the alarm to the world.”

She added the development shows how important it is to have excellent sequencing capabilities and to share expertise with others.

The reaction to the announcement of the new variant discovered by South African health authorities was also prompt.

UK officials announced Thursday six African countries would be added to England’s travel “red list” after the UK Health Security Agency flagged concern over the variant.

UK’s Health Minister Sajid Javid said flights to the UK from South Africa, Namibia, Lesotho, Botswana, Eswatini and Zimbabwe would be suspended from midday Friday and all six countries would be added to the red list — meaning UK residents and British and Irish nationals arriving home from those points of departure must undergo a 10-day hotel quarantine at their own expense.

Speaking on Friday, Javid said it was “highly likely” the B.1.1.529 variant has spread beyond southern Africa. In a statement to the UK House of Commons Friday Javid expressed concern it may “pose a substantial risk to public health.”

European Union states have agreed to introduce temporary restrictions on all travel into the EU from southern Africa over the new Covid-19 variant, the bloc said Friday.

Member states agreed to “introduce rapidly restrictions on all travel into the EU from 7 countries in the Southern Africa region: Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Zimbabwe,” said EU Commission spokesman Eric Mamer.

Singapore, Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines, Israel, Turkey, Egypt, Dubai, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Jordan have also announced new restrictions on travelers coming from the region.

Canada will be “banning the entry of foreign nationals… that have traveled through southern Africa in the last 14 days,” due to the new coronavirus variant, said Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos at a press conference on Friday.

“Canadians and permanent residents and those with a right of entry into Canada will be tested on arrival, [and] they will quarantine until they get the result of a negative test,” according to Duclos.

South Africa, like much of the region, has suffered through three significant Covid-19 waves since the pandemic’s start. While the number of new infections across the country is now still relatively low and positivity levels are under 5%, public health officials have already predicted a fourth wave because of a slow vaccine uptake.

South Africa has fully vaccinated 35.37% of its adult population and has seen its rate of people initiating vaccination fall in recent days, according to data from the country’s Department of Health.

The-CNN-Wire
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CNN’s Jacqueline Howard, Kaitlan Collins, John Bonifield, Steve Almasy, Duarte Mendonca, Niamh Kennedy, Mia Alberti, Andrew Carey, Amir Tal, Antonia Mortensen, Tim Lister, Nadine Schmidt, Virginia Langmaid and Melissa Alonso contributed reporting.

CNN Newsource

Comments

153 Comments

  1. Joe Biden said it was a racist move to ban countries from entry into the US when President Trump did it. How come its not racist when Joe Biden does it. Asking for a friend.

      1. Bull Barney. Both he and his vp both criticized it and the same media organizations that are continually running cover for him that fact check it doesn’t count. Biden tweet “ Banning travel from Europe or any other part of the world won’t stop it.”

        Critical when someone else does it but is a great strategy when you are in the drivers seat? Hypocrisy at its finest.

          1. We should be thanking whoever discovered this new strain, not hating them. They announced it and everyone says they’re horrible, but OMG China didn’t announce it soon enough so they’re horrible. Make up your damn minds already.

              1. Nope. Over-statement as always. Many people who have differing opinions know how to engage in civil dialogue. I have no “playbook,” except to stick to facts, try to enforce Terms of Service and stay out of no-win debates that change no minds. Others can see the hate for what it is, they don’t need my “guidance.”

          1. Who is the high and mighty that deems your sources reputable? You say yours is reputable, someone else says they’re misinformation………….someone else says theirs is reputable, you say they’re misinformation.
            You believe you are getting facts from your liberal backed sources, others believe they are getting facts from alternative backed sources. The only difference is that you delete what is deemed misinformation by you and your sources.

            1. Who? The sources are clear in every link I post. Both duly elected officials, and the agencies Americans have depended on for many decades before today’s toxic environment.
              If you can’t be civil in discussion, don’t be surprised if I don’t reply or if your comments are deleted as offensive personal attacks or other violations of Terms of Service.
              Believing the other side is evil and wants death and destruction is a frightening world view.

              1. “Believing the other side is evil and wants death and destruction is a frightening world view.”
                where were posts like this under Trump? i know – they don’t exist.
                after 4 years of a liberal narrative of the first sentence – what did y’all think you’d create?
                we’re done.

            2. Spot on Ben- keep bangin’ away on this site till they see the light- that the vast majority throughout Central Oregon are not Demokkkrat supporting left leaning hopey changey wannabes who sit around and collect off the government dole all day. As this hoax unravels and more and more people find their voices- the push back from the TOS has expanded beyond comprehension- exposing the hypocrisy that we all knew existed- now there’s no denying or hiding that fact. Good Post- thumbs up !

      2. I think Q is referring to this tweet from Biden:

        Joe Biden
        @JoeBiden

        United States government official
        Trump further diminished the U.S. in the eyes of the world by expanding his travel ban. This new “African Ban,” is designed to make it harder for black and brown people to immigrate to the United States. It’s a disgrace, and we cannot let him succeed.

      3. Haha… nice try Barney. It is entertaining to say the least to read and watch you defend the policies of a failed President like Biden. You could always go back to your trusty Wikipedia, then you can revise the information you disagree with and site is as a source. As for CNN, we’ll everyone in this nation except you and about a half million other viewers have already done that. That is why there ratings are so weak. Hard to imagine why with an all star cast like Rachael, Stelter, Lemon and Toobin, I mean tube steak, in the line up. That is some hard hitting journalism right?

        1. I don’t “defend policies.” I state facts. And yet, CNN still is the only national news network that offers a text-based wire service the haters can attack. The commentators – every network has them – don’t write their news stories here, unless clearly labeled analysis and we only see those rarely any more. Those who lump together and cannot differentiate have their own issues. Find “lies” or errors in their articles here and we will report it to their news desk.

          1. OK- Fact time- More Oregonians have suffered through death- economic turmoil- mental health issues- and overall unhappiness (especially Demokrats) than when President Trump was fending off daily attacks on his Presidency. The attacks from Biden are now hitting everyone’s pocketbook and there is no end in sight… and I don’t feel sorry one bit for the plight this nation is in with this failed Resident in the White House.

              1. Hogwash- FACT… Under President Trump 1865 Oregonians died due to conditions “related” to the CV19… Since Biden took over… 3251 Oregonians have died… and that is without a clear reconciliation of the OHA glitch of 550. Take care with your comments regarding fact versus opinion. Up next- the US Misery index- mental health stats- and Avg household income data to prove more facts.

      4. “Trump further diminished the U.S. in the eyes of the world by expanding his travel ban. This new “African Ban,” is designed to make it harder for black and brown people to immigrate to the United States. It’s a disgrace, and we cannot let him succeed.”

        Good thing we have “fact checkers” to tell us we didn’t really read what Biden wrote. Thank goodness for loyal propagandists or the people might get the wrong idea. Good job.

      5. A real virus does not mutate worse than the original. In fact, they are usually less and less potent. Our Government truly wants nothing more than to keep us locked away until we all agree with communism.

        Here are some articles that prove the above statement, from Q1714 last year: https://www.foxnews.com/media/coronavirus-democrats-division-fear-rnc-chairwoman
        https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/05/opinion/china-travel-coronavirus.html

        Hard to argue with the New York Times, right?

    1. Not allowed to question the demonrats, don’t you know, they are above the law and all criticism. Past examples, four dead Americans, Benghazi; two murdered Federal law enforcement agents, fast and furious; thirteen murdered military personnel, Afghanistan. Wise up.

    2. – Hey Q – hate to burst your bubble, but South Africa has people of every skin tone possible, just like our country (well, maybe not in your neighborhood) – tell your “friend” not to be so scared of fellow human beings

    3. Splitting hairs, but Biden tweeted “We need to lead the way with science — not Donald Trump’s record of hysteria, xenophobia and fear-mongering,” in response to his Jan 31, 2020 China travel ban.

          1. Only trusted sources like the constantly lying CNN and AP are credible right Barney? Do you feel the least bit of embarrassment helping to spread the lies of CNN? Russia Russia Russia. I wonder if any of KTVZ’s money went to Nick Sandmann?

  2. Man. Almost like I called this a year ago. There will be continued new variants and government will never give up this overreaching power. So now, even the sacred vaxxed will most likely have no added protection. If so, any of you willing to apologize for saying this is a pandemic of the unvaxxed? I’ll take it a step further. I think there could be a situation in which the vaxxed will have their immune system compromised because the Vaxx may inhibit T cells allowing the virus to thrive in them. Yet, even so the non vaxxed, TrueBloods, will still be blamed and increasing countries will start to put TrueBloods in Covid camps against their will. Look at Austria and other countries. In fact they even lock up vaxxed. Remember I said this would happen about six months ago? No one took me seriously. I believe this will be a pandemic of the vaxxed. One last question, does any of you that thought getting the Vaxx wound eradicate Covid feel duped for getting the Vaxx? Feel sorry for treating people who wanted to wait for safety of the Vaxx like crap? How many boosters will it take for you to wake up? Remember I claimed you will need a booster every 4 months? Doesn’t seem far fetched now does it? FYI making a ton of money at another Oregon hospital without needing the Vaxx while st Charles spirals into a never ending staffing bottomless pot after letting hundreds of us go due to Vaxx status ( unconstitutional) TrueBloods Unite!!!!

      1. Barney, you have to admit I’ve had some fairly accurate predictions. I did predict their would be a variant called Covid 21, because it would come out in 2021, which the Delta did and I thought it was that. But. Is I think it’s this newer one and it’s still 2021 so I may still be right. This was back when the vaxxed were walking around all proud that they did their part to eradicate it. I do wish they called it the Beta variant because it would be perfect for all the plannedemocrat Beta Males to have to say beta so much.

        Honest question. It appears Queen Kate may have given up her illegal emergency orders/mandates but media only reporting outside masks? Any truth to this that you can dive into? If so I think she is buying time to make this stuff permanent. Also I haven’t seen any reports from you guys about OHA developing a electronic Vaxx passport for this spring. Which they are working on. https://twitter.com/chrisbr97836751/status/1463871446040518660?s=21

        1. I don’t “have to admit” anything of the sort. Correlation is never causation, and some predictions can be perhaps better called “guesses.”
          Also not going to respond to questions that make unsubstantiated claims (“illegal” emergency orders that have been upheld in numerous rulings).
          But that registration/app in the works was brought up at last week’s OHA media briefing and info was in our detailed story:
          “A reporter asked about OHA’s work on a “digital vaccine record.” Allen said while many Oregonians with large health care providers can get a QR code to easily prove vaccination at large sporting events, for example, others don’t have such access, and that will be the goal of the digital record system now under consideration.”
          https://ktvz.com/news/coronavirus/2021/11/23/oregon-drops-outdoor-mask-requirements-in-crowds-adopts-schools-test-to-stay-to-end-quarantines/

          1. Mr. Moderator why do you fall back on the statement Correlation is never causation? You are misinformed to state “Correlation is never Causation”. That is simply not true. There are multiple statistical proofs, which confirm this. All you need are stable variables. What is true, and I believe you are trying to state is “Correlation does not imply Causation”.

      2. Btw I am using facts not politics. Unpredictable? Why was I able to predict this very thing a year ago? One more prediction. Covid will never go away even with 4 boosters a year. Not political, true science.

        1. Many people trust researchers and scientists with their name and reputation on the line and who would probably be able to prove they go where the facts lead. Not anonymous Internet commenters who clearly have a position, political and otherwise.

              1. Barney, you should refute yourself. 1) You only post “articles/studies” on people who refute the vaccine narrative. 2). You IGNORE the studies that contradict the studies you post. That are also from reputable sources. 3). Because you ignore them, you are essentially providing misinformation because you don’t relay ALL the information about the other studies that refute what you say.

                1. What Barney and the rest of the left can’t refute… Is that they have no answers- no strategy- no success ! Oregon had the second highest 7 day death average since the scampemic arrived in 2019 just this last week… and that is with millions of vaccines doled out- a fear mongering media- and a Governor in a pants suit… what could go wrong ?

              2. Just ask Alex Berenson. Refuted? How about the YouTube videos pulled that suggested the facts pointed to a Wuhan lab leak due to them being “misinformation.” How about the Twitter bans on Americas Frontline Doctors?

                1. That shows absolutely nothing Barney. You again try and refute information with the same media pushing 1 sided information. There are plenty of reputable sources that have been pulled due to not following the narrative. If you can’t admit that then you have fully drunk the koolaid and nothing will change it.

                2. And you and others share your own one-sided info to “prove it wrong.” Feel free to find that perfect forum out there where everyone agrees with your portrayal of who’s all good and who’s all bad. Here, there are folks who don’t buy it.

          1. Barney, many of us stopped trusting the Scientists because of their reputation. Fauci has made so many high profile errors of judgement in the last two years, he should have been fired. How many times do we all need to point out that the masks we are told to wear here in Oregon, Washington, California, and New York are NOT protecting us from anything? In fact, those 4 states have the worst Covid infection rates in the country. The mask boxes clearly say “will not protect against Covid nor other viruses”. These masks were designed to protect the person being operated on from getting anything the doctors and nurses might spread into open body parts during surgeries. I have said before, if it’s a long surgery, the doctors have team members whose job it is to switch out their masks when damp…because they don’t work when wet and pose a risk to the wearer at that point. Even OSHA knows this, but is deliberately not following their own protocol. Isn’t it interesting the Federal OSHA isn’t recommending masks?
            Now the vaccine is a whole other ball game. It started with one or two shots and you are fine. When “boosters” were mentioned a few short months ago, many of us said how many before they admit the darn thing doesn’t work? Well, here we are and yesterday I received an email asking if I wanted my child to join an app by the CDC that will give them the benefits of the vaccine, will remind them when they need a booster, as well as be a “reporting system” for side effects. All announced for kids 5-17. Creating a whole new way to indoctrinate our children who should NOT be the ones reporting issues, the doctors and parents should. And they are going into the first series of shots, knowing they will be giving boosters to the 5-17 age group. Sounds like this doesn’t work to me.

              1. How have experts evolved ? So far all I see is hindsight excuse making while the case numbers climb- the vaccines weaken in months- and the deaths tolls hit record levels. Not sure that’s called “evolution”- more like “regression” !

        2. I haven’t been able to figure out what the issue is here on this topic. Your predictions are based on the correlation of the variables. That is acceptable statistical science. And its very important when treating viruses. Its the correlations between the variables that allow us to model future outbreaks and mutations. Causation, is a lag, if we wait around for the causation, we will all be dead.

      3. Think back Barney, how many times have I said it isn’t over and will be getting worse? I wasn’t predicting, I WAS basing those statements on science. The breakthroughs are going to be coming faster and faster . . . the “vaxx” isn’t going to stop the next wave/variant. Mark it on your calendar! NOT a prediction . . . science!

    1. I recall Fauci saying from the beginning that C19 could become endemic and after the seeing how the mRNA was working but not well enough to stop C19, it became apparent that this was the case. So kudos there. Herd immunity should no longer be a goal or part of any calculation affecting public policy.

      I disagree that the vacc will inhibit T cells, and if anything, they will be activated as that is how the immune system works – it works better when stressed, with a few exceptions. It should be noted that omicron is not a descendant of delta. It is from South Africa, which has a 6% vaccination rate and there are a lot of immunocompromised people due to HIV. There is some speculation that immunocompromised people may, but no proof, allow the virus more opportunity to mutate. So it looks like this variant comes from the unvaccinated.

      We do both agree that the blame game and shame strategy by politicians, many people and many in the scientific community isn’t going to work to get people vaccinated. At this point, what one person does, doesn’t have enough impact on anyone else to justify mandates. It is my assumption that the vast majority of people on earth will come in contact with C19 no matter what anyone else does so far as masking (especially if cloth masking which is nothing more than virtue signalling), vaccination, distancing, ventilation etc. Fear reactions, as seems to be par for the course, is going to delay risk mitigation strategies and increase knee jerk political responses with subsequent avoidable consequences, as demonstrated by Biden ordering a travel ban.

      1. Your post sums it up in the first sentence. Not sure what exactly has to be the metric that confirms we are there, but the sooner we start treating it as endemic the sooner we can eliminate all of these money sucking mandates, travel bans, etc.

      2. Skittish you are spot on. This whole virus was “unleashed” with an end game. This was not a mishappen mistake, nor was it a coincidence that it happened in China. Communist countries all over the world as NOT struggling with the consequences of Covid-19, or has no one noticed? This “agenda” has been proven multiple times by true fact-checking media. There have been conferences and “summits” regarding the virus and the governmental responses. The lead players here in America are no longer hiding their loyalties to Communism/Socialism/Marxism. In fact, many communist countries are changing their names to Socialism because the connotation that they care for others is more easily accepted by freedom lovers around the world. The game they are playing is dangerous and those who do not soon see it, will be waking up, a little more at a time over the coming months of continued control for not one ounce of truth.

    2. OMG! You are so spot on Oregone! So, my older sister (lives in CA) took the jab twice & got the booster. She also asked me to leave her home after finding out that I had not taken the jab (this was over the summer). Fast forward a month ago…… received a text from her (she is 86, I am 65) apologizing for her actions and welcoming me and my hubby back for Christmas. Says she is so sorry and that she is “rethinking” the jab and will never get another booster! Her eyes have been opened!! Needless to say, we are going to enjoy Christmas as a whole family this year!

    1. That doesn’t mean the vaccine isn’t, as official stats show, effective at greatly reducing the risk of serious illness or death. Viruses evolve, knowledge evolves, and guidance/recommendations no doubt will evolve as well. That’s the way it’s supposed to work, politically fueled claims notwithstanding.

        1. Considering that over 5.2 million have died globally with almost 800,000 in the US, I would say that the ones that are evil are the ones like you that keep posting all the conspiracy stuff. People are dying because they believe all the garbage, the type of garbage that you continually post. That’s what is evil.

  3. From what I can gather this “variant” is being spread by vaccinated people! And they want us to be injected by something that even they don’t know anything about. No thanks

      1. Official stats are produced by those who created the virus, and those who benefit financially from vaccines. Any third party studies or scientific evidence that proves different is silenced.

    1. Even when we do provide a link to back up what we say Paco he won’t admit that the viewpoint expressed by the MSM is slanted. It’ll always be a open and shut case of the left being right and our opinions don’t mean 💩 and not worth his time

        1. But there is a difference. We are common citizens. The MSM has told us for years they are unbiased. That simply has turned out not to be true, Regardless of the political slant of the reporting. And as a result, folks look to other “sources” for information. We still post here because we still have hope that the media can be trusted. But what do we get? small type back page corrections, blaming society for not trusting MSM, hiding behind various terms of service. Instead, why not look to find common ground, unite instead and divide? This board was like that then personal attacks were allowed, then the moderated was empowered to determine what was or was not a personal attack. And that is fine, but at that point, you are an editor not a moderator. I mean come on man, do you really believe as someone that has dedicated their professional life to Journalism for at least the 25 years i have watched you work that this post from you falls under the definition of being the “moderator”? “A vast worldwide conspiracy? Seriously?”. That’s op/ed.

          1. You have called yourself a troll. Why should I attempt to engage in civil dialogue with you? When you use broad allegations that are simply untrue?
            I love to find common ground. I publicly applaud those who post comments here that are constructive and lead to such dialogue, whatever their viewpoint.
            Some of yours get through fine. Others don’t because you live down to the label you have given yourself.
            Thirty years ago, when the internet was just taking shape, many of us worried about the “Daily Me” – folks only following/believing news sources that confirm their biases and, yes, prejudices.
            And here we are.
            Why do you think so many of these systems have gone away? Not “censorship.” People who refuses to engage in civil dialogue and trust untrustworthy sources and spread dangerous misinformation no news organization has the resources to spend their time fact-checking and refereeing. Amid pleas from many to get rid of them. People who cannot, in essence, “censor” themselves and believe their side is perfect and the other side is evil and wants to destroy the country.
            And journalism – which hasn’t changed as much as many alleged – gets dragged into the endless tug of war, portrayed as a villain for trying to stick to facts in a hurricane of spin, blame and hate.
            There are journalists who believe they have to take a side against dangerous lies (re: COVID for example), or that “objectivity” is a waste of time. I’m not there, call me a dinosaur.
            It’s pretty obvious to many who aren’t wedded to one side or the other, but know that it’s so dangerous for our future.
            Common ground is only possible when people truly listen to each other for reasons of understanding and striving toward mutual respect, not simply to gather ammunition for the next volley of blame and hate.
            PS: Want personal attacks disallowed? How about leading by example and not making them? If more did that, then they’d show gratitude for the platform we provide, rather than “spitting on the microphone.”

            1. Wouldn’t spitting on the 🎤be a transmissible way of spreading the virus. MSM is getting more than slanted now with Colbert speaking out saying things need to change after the Rittenhouse verdict that self defense laws need to be reworded.🥁

            2. I don’t favor either side, I am an equal opportunity troll. You wanted a platform where you could opine and now you have it! After all, that’s always what you have been after since your days schilling for the bulletin! Why not just call yourself for what you are when working on this platform; an Op/Ed guy. If we really wanted the personal attacks to stop and this board to end under its current format we would start posting under our legally published real names. But we play the game even when you or your team reach out to us through other means for assistance.

            3. Barney, I had told you many times, my father was a truly independent journalist who taught many reporters about their job. Much of your rant here is simply justifying your employer’s stand, which is not independent, but instead “censorship”, which you claim it is not. Many of us have never attacked anyone and I don’t intend to start, but I WILL CALL OUT one-sided journalism. The media is SUPPOSED to QUESTION the popular stance and do some investigating into what many people have told you is the other side. Instead, you spout back the narrative that is VERY one-sided while you ignore that there is a growing disconnect between the stories you run and the public stance. If you truly want to do some digging, you are welcome to contact me. I am well educated, know how to research, and have a collection of articles from around the world that have been published in journals and from other countries’ governments. It’s not easy to find stories on the world wide web that go against the official Democratic viewpoint, but it is there.

              1. I don’t delete or refute factual links. Questionable ones, I have no choice. I know my job very well and am teaching the young folks, except for doing a better job ignoring the unfair attacks. Hopefully they are better at that in coming years.

  4. I’m supposed to take the shot developed for alpha to protect me from omicron? I’ll just get a ten year old flu shot too. This is all about selling the millions, or maybe billions of doses already produced.

    1. There can be several things true at once. Yes pharma is going to make $$$$, but that doesn’t preclude the vaccination from being effective. Pharma will tell the truth when it will make them money, so not everything they say is false.

      1. Big Pharma, especially Pfizer, will lie through their teeth to get/keep money flowing into their coffers. Wait till the truth comes out 50+ years from now, when their data becomes available. Sealed for 50+ years??? WHY?

          1. I am old enoug to remember when the good progressive hated big pharma. Now it is most progressive to worship them. How quickly things change with the election of a democrat

      2. Do you realize how many lawsuits and how much money these three companies have had to pay because of “withholding” evidence in their drug trials? It’s truly eye-opening to see why Johnsons and Johnson are in the vaccination field at all…considering they absorbed the Montesano mess as well as hernia mesh, baby powder, hip replacement hardware, Xarelto, Invokana, Risperdal, Concerta, and more! Neither Moderna nor Pfizer are immune. Moderna just paid out 1.8 billion in a lawsuit against their own protocols. Pfizer just lost a suit regarding the artificially inflated costs of Epi-pen. Only 10 years in the making. They also just lost a lawsuit regarding testosterone they produce as it has side effects the company denied they knew about, only to be caught by an employee with emails that they indeed did know and kept hidden. If you think these multinational companies are on the side of the consumer, you are sadly mistaken. They do nothing more than figure out how to make the BIG money they get for research, tax breaks, and more to HIDE the negative in order to fast-track their product. They HIDE EVERYTHING they can to get it approved and onto the market so they can charge ungodly amounts of money so their investors MAKE MONEY.

  5. This “news” is like Christmas come early for Lock Down Brown…Another reason to restrict Oregon residents yet again. Aside, Biden and his sidecar are complete hypocrits – they are doing exactly what he accused the previous administration of doing as being racist. Let’s go Brandon!

    1. And you say that as people continue to die because they believe the garbage that this is not a serious virus. What exactly do you want the medical community to do to stop this virus? How many people died over the last few weeks in Deschutes County? How many of those were unvaccinated and probably wouldn’t have if they were? If we do nothing to try and stop this virus, millions more than the current 5.2 m will most probably die before any type of herd immunity is reached.

      And we all know what the ‘Brandon’ phrase means. I’m really surprised that it’s being allowed to be posted on here!

  6. Its just “new and improved” for more fear mongering since people are getting tired of hearing about the old one. Thats al I have to say about this. Carry on.

    1. It’s like technology and keeps improving at a regular pace. I do wonder when it will finally dawn on people that we are in this for the foreseeable future, have to go on with life and stop this perpetual “emergency”.

  7. Barney is right on left wing liberal fear mongering… The newest variant…last just wore off in the news….lets make up a new one…Cut and paste master… Lol

          1. Exactly……millions depend on their products to survive. The more people dependent on their products the more money they make. If you’re dependent you are also controlled.

            1. I’m sure many, many others are no doubt thankful those drugs are available to provide those benefits, and don’t spin everything to the negative. The real world isn’t black or white, of course, it’s about tradeoffs and benefits vs. costs.

              1. That is a ridiculous argument. I never argued that everything they have done is bad so why would that be your argument? I’m saying they are playing this particular situation perfectly to maximize profits. Ever wonder why there are no other ways to minimize symptoms other then there own vaccine. No other virus ever known on this planet behaves like that.

                1. “Toxifies things”? Right, much better to cover your eyes and go with what the governmental political agencies say. I am shocked you actually work for a media company yet refuse to actually look at all sides and possibilities. The journalistic integrity and will to search for the death is all but dead. Crazy.

                2. Your unfair characterization of your “enemies” speaks far more about your view than about them. They don’t believe all governments lie about everything. I focus my energies on local news and 1,000s of comments like this I have to read every week.

  8. here we go again.
    let’s face it – the WHO, Fauci, et al know nothing.
    perhaps nothing more can be expected but i wish all would just say it – “we don’t know, but based on today, X should apply”.
    should be interesting to see where this goes.

  9. I have to chime in to support Barney in all of his valiant efforts to uphold our institutions (medical and otherwise) and to champion journalism in a free society. All of what Fauci and the other epidemiologists have surmised and postulated is being borne out by the ability of this virus to mutate and survive in our lungs. The rise of the omicron variant is not a conspiracy or a plot to deprive us of our liberties; it is what viruses do when they rampage through through impoverished unvaccinated populations, such as we find in South Africa. This is another example of how the virus opportunistically seeks out the most vulnerable and exposed people on the planet–the ones who can’t shelter behind closed doors. In America it is working class people of color who seem to be getting the brunt of the sickness and death of the pandemic–as seen by reduced life expectancies attributable to Covid-19. Thank you, Barney. You are a beacon to the truth that we should all be struggling to find.

    1. Thank you very much. I need to pay more attention to kind supporters and others who know how to behave like adults, not the blamers and haters, and to resist harder giving them the attention they desperately seek.

    2. True viruses do not get stronger. True viruses mutate, but typically into another species…ie Bird Flu, Swine Flu. They are more contagious, but they are less potent than the strain before. Does anyone actually remember that the “cold” we typically get a few times a year is an actual strain of Coronavirus? Wonder why you can be barely sick at all and test positive for Covid? Because SARS, Common cold, MERS, are all part of the Coronavirus family. SInce Covid-19 has YET to be isolated, it is testing for any covid variant…the commonality is the crown-like spikes on the virus genome. So all you have to have to test positive for Covid is the crown-like genome spikes. Most viruses come from animals and mutate into humans, once in humans we get it, get super sick, develop some antibodies which makes it less potent the next time we get it. Unvaccinated ARE NOT the problem. This Covid-19 jab has NOTHING in it to protect against any Coronavirus. Instead, it changes your genes to attack ANY and ALL anomalies in the body. This is why those with severe side effects of rheumatoid arthritis, heart issues, stroke, and more are happening. It ramps up your own immune system to attack anything and everything. So someone with a history of damage to joints, family history of arthritis, stroke, etc are just getting something they were prone to develop down the road anyway, sooner than expected.

      1. Got reputable link/proof for any of that? From reputable sources, not one-sided folks who attack anything scientists/researchers have done to date? People, if you need a reminder – please don’t trust anonymous online commenters, especially ones that make this kind of very serious claims without linked proof. If the “unvaccinated are not the problem,” how come they continue to make up the large majority of those hospitalized/dying now? (Every hospital, every doctor on the record is lying?)
        This AP “pickup” from the the Roseburg paper speaks for itself, anecdotally. (We only get briefer broadcast version.)
        https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/washington/articles/2021-11-26/skeptic-to-advocate-man-survives-scary-bout-of-covid-19

  10. If we forced people to be vaxxed rather they wanted it or not and forced people to mask up rather they wanted it or not we could be through this by now. We keep letting the ignorant have an equal say and we will keep paying for it as long as we do.

    Austria has the right idea.

    1. Thanks for your ideology of forcing people to do something. Really true American spirit right there. Are we a nation founded on principles that we are all created equal and have the right to make decisions for ourselves, or are you one of the many who believe it’s one size fits all?
      Austria and many other countries are in the midst of the largest uprisings in their history and are about to land into civil war. Australia let it go too far by allowing the government to remove guns, a citizens-only defense against a tyrannical government. They are in martial law and have no communications. Does that sound like a free nation to you? Are you okay with losing everything you have worked for so that a select few can control everything and everyone?

  11. – you know, maybe regular people should be grateful that the crowd on this forum spend all their time, well…, doing this (see above) – if they weren’t here spinning down the rabbit hole of hate, they might be out in public

  12. In Today’s breaking news, Dr. Fauci, the WHO, and CDC say the sky is falling, and now air is unsafe to breath. Don’t leave your house without st least 3 masks on. It’s very dangerous outside. But don’t worry, Joe and Tony Fauci will protect you

  13. Guide to happiness:
    1. Move to Bend from California
    2. Buy a card board Pahlish house
    3. Wear your face mask for a year or so and enjoy Brown’s perpetual lock downs.
    4. Vacation in states without OR socialist lock downs
    5. Decide to move back to California

  14. The problem with a conspiracy theory is sometimes they are nothing but wishful thinking of the angry or frightened but they can also turn out to be true more often than people like to admit. It is a name used by those who are lying to sweep something under the rug. When something simply makes no sense and does not add up people wonder what the hell is really going on.

  15. The Ghislaine Maxwell variant starts November 29th. This Omicron variant sounds like a Transformer. Its a Yugo that transforms into a snowflake in a Level A Haz Mat suit(aka the body bag with a window) with a battle belt armed with Lysol, anti bacterial wipes and TP.

  16. This will go on for the rest of our lives. I am so sick of it all. I am going to live my life as I see fit and not pay any attention to the sicko’s like Fauci, Gates and Biden. They all need to go to Gitmo. Fear is what they want, wear your bateria diaper on your face and don’t go against what they tell you. You obey, that is the message, well that is the enough of the enough. Stand tall and live your lives free, for this is America. That is what I have to say on this day. People believe those who pretend to be health care people, when if you listened to your own body it would tell you about your health. Wakeup.

  17. well – HE is a racist. just look at what he’s said so publicly for 40-50 years.
    he’s an idiot, a liar (as proven over and over – like the amtrak story he tells – LIE!), but he thinks he’s smart.
    dangerous combo!

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