Japanese officials estimated last week that omicron was four times more infectious than delta but given the insane amounts of covid being reported in London that might be an underestimation.
The good news is that anecdotal reports of mild illness continue to be sustained. Everyone is praying that continues and if it does, omicron might end up helping to end the pandemic due to higher natural immunity.
But there's one huge caveat: China
The covid-zero policy in China means that in every outbreak there are total lockdowns. Here's the report from the South China Morning Post about the omicron case in Guangzhou this week.
Guangzhou has sealed off a building in Tianshengcun, a residential compound in Yuexiu district where the man lives. All residents of the building have been sent to a quarantine facility for observation.
Residents from three nearby buildings in the same compound are banned from leaving the neighbourhood and must have two Covid-19 tests within three days.
By Tuesday evening, 13,739 people in the compound – 4543 of them from the same building as the patient – had been tested, and all returned negative results.
Residents from several streets in the neighbourhood are also required to do two swab tests. Nearby entrances to the subway station have been closed and taxis and app-based transport banned from entering the area.
China has tied up a great deal of credibility in completely stopping covid. It's now seen as a feature of the surveillance state and part of its justification. The pressure is intensified ahead of the Olympics.
But it's simply not going to work with omicron and that will kick off a situation of lockdowns and failures, similar to New Zealand earlier this year but much harsher. The result could be insane bottlenecks in the global supply chain as factories and ports close along with decidedly slower global growth.
On top of that, today there were a pair of studies about the Sinovac vaccine and its effectiveness against omicron. A Hong Kong academic study showed it was virtually useless while the company itself said it would still be effective, but didn't publish the data. In addition, there's virtually zero natural immunity to covid in China.