johnson144_Suzanne KreiterThe Boston Globe via Getty Images_covidschooltesting Suzanne Kreiter/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Omicron and What Comes Next

Many governments’ initial reaction to the appearance of the new COVID-19 variant – attempting to ban travel from South Africa and neighboring countries, even though it had already spread far and wide – seems a bit desperate. In fact, governments may be better prepared than they think for whatever comes next.

WASHINGTON, DC – There is an adage that you cannot have back-to-back financial crises. The implication is that a financial crisis causes people to be more careful – so any bank, investment firm, or investor who survives one crisis will not be taking big risks anytime soon. But two years after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic forced lockdowns, quarantines, and other restrictions, the arrival of the Omicron variant is forcing people to ask: Are we about to go through it all again?

Many governments’ initial reaction – attempting to ban travel from South Africa and neighboring countries, even though Omicron had already spread far and wide – seems a bit desperate. In fact, there are three reasons why governments may be much better prepared than they think for whatever comes next.

First, most policymakers have by now grasped the key importance of defending the most vulnerable people against the virus. This means, whatever happens, better protections for nursing homes and other congregate care settings. Many lives were lost in 2020 because politicians in the United States, Europe, and elsewhere struggled to understand the importance of this point. One hopes that level of miscomprehension is never repeated.

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