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Living and dying with COVID-19

“Omicron’s BA.5 subvariant is the worst version of the virus we have seen. This takes the already important immune evasion to the next level. – Dr. Eric Topol, Founder and Director of the Scripps Research Translational Institute

The highly infectious and immune-resistant subvariant of Omicron BA.5 is now dominant in much of the world and is fueling a new wave of infections, hospitalizations, weakening with Long COVID and deaths. Since hitting a low on May 30, the official seven-day average of new daily cases worldwide has nearly doubled to 926,123.

While Europe is currently the epicenter of the BA.5 outbreak, in recent weeks cases have risen precipitously in countries around the world, including Bolivia, Guatemala, Mexico, Tunisia, Iraq, in Australia, New Zealand, Japan and more.

The official infection figures in each country are significant undercounts. Over the past seven months, the political establishment and corporate media in almost every country outside of China have falsely claimed that Omicron is “soft” and dismantled testing and data-tracking systems. While telling everyone it was safe to take their masks off, they universally embraced the mantra that society must “learn to live with the virus” without ever explaining the true implications of this new reality.

Masses of people are not living with the coronavirus. They die or are weakened by COVID-19. The new status quo, enforced by relentless propaganda and economic duress, means populations can expect recurring waves of COVID-19 at increasingly frequent intervals. As many experts have predicted and the World Socialist Website warned since last year, two or three waves of infections and reinfections each year are becoming the norm.

Despite the fact that the European Union has one of the highest vaccination rates in the world, the entire continent is experiencing a massive wave of infections, with hospitalizations and deaths rising alongside it. Per capita, the most affected countries in Europe are now France, Italy and Greece.

In France, an average of 127,212 people are officially infected every day, more than eight times compared to the low reached on June 13. In the past week alone, hospital admissions for COVID-19 have increased by 40% in France, while this figure has increased by more than 20% in several other European countries. Over the past three weeks, official deaths from COVID-19 have almost doubled in France and Spain, while in the EU deaths have increased by 60%.

In Greece, the seven-day average of daily new cases has increased almost fivefold over the past month and now stands at 17,750 cases per day. More than 2,000 people are currently hospitalized with COVID-19 across the country, and official COVID-19 deaths have more than doubled in less than a month. In an effort to cover up the increasingly dire situation, this week the National Public Health Organization (EODY) switched from a daily report to a weekly report.

In Italy, an average of 104,078 people are now officially infected with COVID-19 every day, more than six times since June 3. According to official figures, more than 11% of all new cases are now reinfections of people previously infected with COVID-19, the highest figure to date. Official deaths from COVID-19 have doubled in the past month.

In the United States, BA.5 became dominant at the end of June. While the number of official infections has hovered just above 100,000 cases a day for the past two months, the true figure has been estimated to be up to six times higher. Test positivity climbed to 18% nationwide from a low of 2% in March. Official COVID-19 deaths are starting to rise again, with Los Angeles County reporting a doubling in the average number of daily deaths over the past week and other cities reporting similar increases.

Virologists and infectious disease experts are notably concerned about BA.5 due to its enhanced immune evasion properties and ability to cause reinfections and breakthrough infections. A preprint A study from the Kirby Institute in Australia also found that tissue tropism of BA.5, or its ability to infect cells, appears to promote increased infection of the lungs instead of the upper respiratory tract, leading to increased disease severity. in animal models. Their study also revealed that BA.5 produces a higher viral load than all other Omicron subvariants.

What can people expect from “living with COVID,” in which massive waves of infection and reinfection hit global society at least twice a year?

A recent preprint study by Dr. Ziyad Al-Aly, et al. from Washington University in St. Louis, found that people with reinfections compared to those with just a single prior infection had a doubling in all-cause mortality, as well as heart and respiratory disease . They faced a triple risk of hospitalization after the end of the acute phase of their infection. Three or more infections cumulatively worsened, affecting all major organs and metabolic systems in the human body.

With massive waves of infection, which are actually infecting hundreds of millions if not billions of people, as happened last winter, tens of millions more patients will develop persistent symptoms known as Long COVID, which can affect around 10 to 30 percent of those infected. Previous vaccinations minimize these risks, and reinfections continue to predispose to acquiring Long COVID. A third of people with Long COVID may face such debilitating consequences that they are unable to care for and support themselves or their families.

The latest real-world data on the rise of BA.5 and recent scientific studies once again expose the lie that the coronavirus will evolve to become milder and harmless. The current global outbreak of infections is occurring against a backdrop of high levels of population immunity to previous infections or vaccinations, debunking any notion that “herd immunity” will ever be achieved with existing vaccines or by the homicidal strategy of allowing the virus to spread unchecked.

New variants are now waiting in the wings. Omicron BA.2.75 has been detected in several countries, with most cases seen so far in India. BA.5 offshoots are steadily increasing in Germany (BA.5.3.1), the UK (BA.5.1) and elsewhere. A CDC spokesperson speaking on condition of anonymity said Fortune that “variants and sub-variants quickly fragment. There are not one or two, but hundreds of variants and sub-variants.

In the United States and many other countries, health officials have begun to strike a more worried tone. On Tuesday, for the first time in weeks, White House COVID response team coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha advised Americans to wear masks. He presented this as an individual choice and said nothing about mask mandates.

Clearly nervous about the worsening BA.5 rise, Dr Jha said: “[t]there are obviously many Americans who were infected with BA.1 – BA.1.1 during the January wave. I think we have very clear evidence that their level of protection at this stage is very minimal, certainly against infection, from BA.5.

This was echoed by Dr Anthony Fauci, who said: “[i]If you’ve been infected with BA.1 you really don’t have a lot of good protection against BA.4 or 5… the general principle is that we know that immunity wanes with coronaviruses whether it’s natural infection or vaccination.

It should be recalled that these two health authorities, along with the entire political establishment and corporate media, last winter welcomed the supposedly “mild” and highly contagious Omicron variant as the long-awaited variant for finally get “herd immunity” by sending the virus. in an “endemic” state.

On January 17, a day when more than 800,000 Americans have been infected with COVID-19 and 1,397 have died from the disease, Dr. Fauci said at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland: “It’s a open question of whether or not Omicron is going to be the live virus vaccination everyone is hoping for.

On the same day, Dr. Jha appeared on CNBC and said, “I hope Omicron gives us the lessons we need to manage the rest of this pandemic, however long it lasts, and move into a new normal. , where we are dealing with this virus. much more like an endemic thing. And so hopefully it’s really the transitional variant that will put us on a different footing for future variants and allow us to deal with them much more effectively.

It was part of a global trend. Also in January, the World Health Organization’s Regional Director for Europe, Dr Hans Kluge, said: “It is plausible that the region is heading towards some sort of pandemic endgame.

In his State of the Union address on March 1, 2022, US President Joe Biden said, “I can say that we are moving forward safely, getting back to more normal routines…thanks to the progress we have made in past year, COVID-19 no longer need to control our lives.

These are all lies intended to disarm the population into accepting “living with COVID”. As early as August 2020, the WSWS warned of the possibility of new variants evolving and continuing to wreak havoc, writing: “With the proliferation of the SARS-CoV-2 virus around the world, the opportunity arises for new new mutations and the emergence of new strains. of the virus.” We have repeatedly highlighted this danger and the possibility that more infectious, vaccine-resistant and deadly variants could emerge.

According to a tracker of excess deaths from The Economist, 3.8 million people have died since Jan. 3 due to the ongoing pandemic and efforts to force society to “live with COVID.” This escalating catastrophe must be stopped, and those responsible must be held accountable!

The International Committee of the Fourth International (ICFI) and its affiliated socialist equality parties are spearheading the struggle to build a mass movement of the international working class to stop the pandemic. To get involved in this fight, fill out the form below.