Sir John Bell has made the point here that many have lately seemed determined to dodge — that ever since the majority were at least double-jabbed in the UK, the level of hospitalisation has barely budged, no matter what the variants were up to, reproduction-wise.
"Nothing is less sensational than pestilence" noted the narrator of The Plague by Camus.
We've done our best for two years now to sensationalise covid, but as recorded in that novel, the public gradually slip into listless indifference, with feelings of monotony or "dreary perseverance" replacing those of passionate revolt, where whole societies seem "like a railway waiting room" packed with the "exiles of the plague".
We could be about to enter what Camus pinpointed as the 'mediocre' phase of the plague: epidemic, rather than pandemic, yet perhaps likely to impact more directly on more of us.
For a long time the majority have been accepting sacrifice on behalf of the few — those for whom covid could be lethal — a tiny minority in the developed world, now less than half of one percent of those infected, though here in Guatemala, fairly shamefully, 2%.
For the majority of this majority the disease and its symptoms have at timed seemed individually distant, if collectively distressing. Omicron and its successors will at least partially invert this pattern, in its mediocre manner.
It will become impossible to ignore other minor sicknesses as many share the basic, early-onset symptoms of covid lite. Our noses will not be safe from the ravages of the Q-tip cavity search for many months to come as the disease finally gets its chance to match the disruptive tendencies of government.
Many of us will find it hard to reverse out of the mindset where behaviours that were thoroughly normal before now appear abnormal (and possibly amoral). Others will find it hard to readjust from the sensational to the nondescript, particularly as the danger will still be there, just diluted.
Another report released today demonstrates that Omicron is only really mediocre at the point of delivery. In all other respects it is the "shrewd, unflagging adversary; a skilled organiser, doing his worlk thoroughly and well," praised by that same narrator of The Plague.
For how else can we respond to news from South Africa that an infection with the new variant makes one just a little bit more immune to future infections of the same, but a whole lot more immune to infections with Delta?