Early analysis of new data from South Africa reported on this morning suggests that the Omicron variant is three times more transmissible than the Delta, and that previous infection with other variants confers less immunity against Omicron. My nonauthoritative impression from what I’ve read suggests that Omicron is also more evasive of vaccines than previous variants, but that current vaccines are still substantially effective in preventing severe illness and death.

The world in a much better position to deal with this development than it was a year ago, but the need for collective, rational, aggressive action has never been greater. If we weren’t also enduring a plague of anti-vaccination hysteria, conspiracy theorizing, mask mandate opposition, and malicious misinformation spreading, we could feel positive about humanity’s chances of ending the pandemic in 2022.