Golf champion Phil Mickelson ignited a social media firestorm late last week after posing a question about the Omicron variant of COVID-19 that cut against the grain of the COVID narrative.
What are the details?
Invoking data that suggest the Omicron variant "is contagious but not deadly," Mickelson asked why public health officials are still trying to control the spread of Omicron rather than boosting immunity development.
"Serious question since I’m not a dr. If omicron is contagious but not deadly(25,000 cases in Africa with no deaths) why try and control it? Why not let it go and let people get it and develop immunity? Especially for those who won’t get vaccinated? Pls no hate, I’m just curious," Mickelson said on Twitter.
Mickelson's question triggered a wave of responses, which were both critical and supportive of Mickelson's suggestion.
- "Phil out here making more sense with one tweet than almost anyone in sports, media, or politics," Clay Travis responded.
- "Hillary Clinton dusts off her noose…," comedian Andrew Schulz responded.
- "Because Pfizer has better lobbyists than natural immunity," another person said.
- "Because it doesnt make big pharma billions and doesnt keep tyrants in control with 'emergency powers,'" Tim Young said.
- "Becasue (sic) no one wants to hear that. Makes too much sense to follow the statistics," former NFL quarterback Matt Leinart said.
- "Simple… natural immunity isn’t profitable. Next question," another person said.
- "Because our hospitals are full and healthcare workers are suffering. STOP. OVERWHELMING. HEALTHCARE. WORKERS," one critic said.
- "Not deadly ≠ not dangerous. People are getting hospitalized and hospitals are getting overwhelmed. Any 'let it run rampant strategy' is foolish nonsense," another critic said.
- "Please stop pretending you're innocently floating an idea — we're two years deep into this. Take some responsibility," another critic said.
- "If you're genuinely curious (and not posing bulls*** bad faith questions), talk to your doctor or contact a virologist or an epidemiologist," another critic said.
- "No hate here, but you are contributing to deadly disinformation being used by fascists to destroy American democracy. ... Delete this and apologize," another critic said.
What about Omicron?
While the Omicron variant has been responsible for massive spikes in COVID-19 cases, data suggest the variant is milder than previous COVID-19 variants because it has not driven a corresponding spike in hospitalizations and deaths.
However, public health officials have not responded in kind. Instead, schools across the nation are returning to remote learning, mask mandates are being re-enacted, and Democratic leaders are implementing vaccine mandates and entry requirements that include booster shots. All in the spirit of mitigating risk from Omicron, they say.