"The new coronavirus variant is a genuine cause for unease. Omicron appears to be highly transmissible, and it will most likely swamp the world in the months ahead. It is too early to know whether it will be more virulent than the delta variant or more evasive of vaccine immunity. But it is not too early to decide what to do about it. The tools to respond exist, if we will only be serious about wearing masks and getting vaccinated.
Even with the unknowns, vaccines work. They can protect against the delta variant raging everywhere. Boosters create a high level of immunity against delta and may help fend off omicron, too. The vaccines are a lifesaver to people who might otherwise die. Why hesitate to get vaccinated, refuse to wear a mask or deride mandates for both at this stage of the pandemic? Why is a quarter of the U.S. population without at least one vaccine dose — essentially driving at high speed without a seat belt? How many more of the unvaccinated will be hospitalized, intubated and die? Anyone in the United States who can easily get a free vaccine and refuses to do so is leaving themselves vulnerable to a killer disease that has already taken more lives than were lost in the line of duty during the Civil War. "
|A covid-19 testing site is seen in Times Square in New York on Dec. 3. (Yuki Iwamura/AP)|