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Omicron... When the Killer Inspects the Crime Scene

Omicron... When the Killer Inspects the Crime Scene

Monday, 29 November, 2021 - 10:15
Ghassan Charbel
Ghassan Charbel is the editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper

The emergence of a new mutation of the coronavirus was not surprising. Scientists have previously warned of this. They used this argument to try to persuade the fearful, hesitant, and lost, who consider being pushed to receive the vaccine as a violation of their freedom.


The position of the latter group is terrible and awful. People have the right not to be concerned with their own safety, but they don’t have the right to act in a way that threatens the safety of others, including abstaining from receiving the vaccine.


The mutation of the virus was probable. But no one expected that it would possess this great ability to disturb individuals and countries. We are now facing a new and revised edition of the pandemic, dubbed “Omicron.” If some time is required to get to know the new visitor more accurately, the initial information suggests that it is more ferocious and capable of spreading more rapidly than previous variants.


In the past months, the world seemed to be able to overcome the blow wrought by the pandemic. The economy recovered some of its health and efforts were focused on counting the losses and thinking about the best ways to confront them.


It was the size of a great catastrophe worth trillions of dollars, severe damages in several sectors, including tourism and aviation, as well as huge losses in education.


Despite the harsh numbers, the world regained some of its vitality and confidence, especially with the high vaccination rates and talk of the imminent availability of pills on the market.


It is no exaggeration to say that the world almost forgot the pandemic or no longer considered it a main concern. The news on the coronavirus, which occupied headlines on bleak days, was recently limited to small articles on the bottom of the front page or even completely disappeared, thanks to positive indicators backed by numbers, vaccines, and a firm conviction in the ability of this tremendous scientific progress to provide a weapon that kills the beast.


The world got busy with other files. The emergence of the pandemic has not erased nor frozen international hatred. Hate and fear are a driving force of politics. We have recently heard about the deep fears of NATO generals that the world will one day wake up to the news of a Russian invasion of Ukraine. I have no doubt that the only constant in Vladimir’s program is to drain the West and inject suspicions into the European veins.


It is no longer a secret that the master of the Kremlin is carrying out a program of revenge against the Western model that pushed the Soviet Union to something like suicide, without firing a bullet. But careful follow-up of Putin’s style of punching helps to rule out an invasion that brings to mind - not the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968 - but the practices of World War II.


In the past months, the world seemed to be accustomed to coexisting with the coronavirus and devoted itself to its old and new wars. Talks about the Chinese threat escalated. In the South China Sea and on the shores of Taiwan, features of a confrontation line emerged. It was clear that America, returning from Afghanistan, wanted to focus on confronting the “new Soviet Union”, represented by the Chinese Communist Party.


The current Chinese leader’s success at the top of the world factory has compounded the thrilling scenarios. The emergence of the pandemic did not alter the behavior of the dinosaurs in the adults’ club, nor did it ease the greed of the regional wolves.


The success of the pandemic in killing five million people and inflicting unprecedented losses on the global economy did not prompt countries to stop their conflicts or freeze the development of their arsenals.


On the beats of the Covid-19, Ethiopia descended into its civil war, Lebanon extended its residence in Hell, and Iran continued its game with America without releasing the capitals it had captured.


The average citizen has accepted that the Covid-19 is part of the new landscape. He received the vaccine and returned to the office, took easily the infections near him and contented himself with conducting tests that had become a kind of a daily meal.


Governments’ confidence in their measures mounted. They dropped some restrictions and hinted that a return to closure was not on the table even if the pandemic resurged, reminding that economic life is no less important than the lives of people.


In the time of cholera, the Spanish flu and others, the citizen could have been late in knowing the catastrophic news, especially about genocides carried out by epidemics. Today, thanks to this spy they call the smartphone, the news immediately poisons your meal. Shortly after, experts emerge, analyses follow, and fears seep into the homes of citizens, governments, and stock exchanges.


If the pessimists’ predictions are correct, the world will find itself facing a serial killer who has the ability to penetrate borders many times faster than terrorists. It also possesses a capacity to mislead that exceeds the capabilities of hard-core politicians, especially in terms of circumventing vaccines.


Perhaps the most dangerous thing about the emergence of the new killer is that it would revive the bleak season, with scenarios of death, economic cracks, bankruptcies, abandoned offices, empty stores and lonely airports.


If the new killer turns out to have an unprecedented ability to kill, the world will have to respond differently.


The average citizen dreams of freezing conflicts and transferring their budgets to laboratories in order to defeat the epidemic.


We are tired of covering the news of the virus, its crimes and its mutations. We are tired of losses and funerals. We are tired of solitude and isolation.


The new mutation seems to be painful and exorbitant. As if the killer was visiting the crime scene to set records that had not been achieved in his previous appearances.


It is an expanded and revised edition of The Pandemic. That’s a lot. We are betting on the scientists engaged in the laboratory battle to rescue the “global village” from misfortune.


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