While the U.S. Supreme Court is currently weighing whether to allow President Joe Biden’s vaccine mandate for employers to stand, the Wall Street Journal said Sunday the issue is already moot.
“Federal courts considering the Biden administration’s vaccination mandates — including the Supreme Court at Friday’s oral argument — have focused on administrative-law issues. The decrees raise constitutional issues as well. But there’s a simpler reason the justices should stay these mandates: the rise of the Omicron variant,” the paper wrote. “It would be irrational, legally indefensible and contrary to the public interest for government to mandate vaccines absent any evidence that the vaccines are effective in stopping the spread of the pathogen they target. Yet that’s exactly what’s happening here.”
Two federal agencies — the Health and Human Services Department and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration — issued mandates on November 5. At the time, the Delta variant of SARS-CoV-2 represented nearly all COVID-19 cases in the U.S. Three pharmaceutical companies currently have vaccines to protect the inoculated against that variant.
But the Omicron variant now accounts for nearly every new case of the virus blanketing the U.S., according to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported last week. The new strain represented 95.4% of sequenced COVID-19 cases during the week ending on New Year’s Day, while the once-dominant Delta variant made up just only 4.6% of sequenced cases, the CDC said.
Omicron took over in just a matter of weeks. At the beginning of December, the variant accounted for less than 1% of sequenced cases, with Delta making up 99% of them. By the week ending on Christmas Day, the CDC estimated the variant to be 58.6% of all new cases.
The Journal said the morphing situation makes the mandates “obsolete.”
“Because some of Omicron’s 50 mutations are known to evade antibody protection, because more than 30 of those mutations are to the spike protein used as an immunogen by the existing vaccines, and because there have been mass Omicron outbreaks in heavily vaccinated populations, scientists are highly uncertain the existing vaccines can stop it from spreading. As the CDC put it on Dec. 20, ‘we don’t yet know . . . how well available vaccines and medications work against it,” the paper wrote, adding:
The little data we have suggest the opposite. One preprint study found that after 30 days the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines no longer had any statistically significant positive effect against Omicron infection, and after 90 days, their effect went negative—i.e., vaccinated people were more susceptible to Omicron infection. Confirming this negative efficacy finding, data from Denmark and the Canadian province of Ontario indicate that vaccinated people have higher rates of Omicron infection than unvaccinated people.
Meantime, it has long been known that vaccinated people with breakthrough infections are highly contagious, and preliminary data from all over the world indicate that this is true of Omicron as well. As CDC Director Rochelle Walensky put it last summer, the viral load in the noses and throats of vaccinated people infected with Delta is “indistinguishable” from that of unvaccinated people, and “what [the vaccines] can’t do anymore is prevent transmission.”
Joseph Curl has covered politics for 35 years, including 12 years as White House correspondent, and ran the Drudge Report from 2010 to 2015. Send tips to email@example.com.
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