COVID’s Lesser Variants | The New Yorker

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    Omicron Variant “Almost Certainly” Less Severe Than Delta: Fauci

    The Post, December 7, 2021.

    As of 0900 hours today, the Omicron variant of Covid-19 is considered more transmissible than the preëminent Delta by a factor of 3.4, while also being “less severe” by a factor of 2.8 (this measurement being on a scale of 1 to 12.7, with the median being 5.3 and the number 7 entirely left out). These two facts will have certainly changed by the time this sentence has been written, and changed five more times by the time it’s been spell-checked. But, rest assured, Omicron is a certified doozy (on the Farce-Doozy scale), and worthy of the attention it has received. What about the lesser covids?

    There are ten Greek letters between delta and omicron—and ten corresponding Covid variants we’ve not heard much about. That’s because they spread less easily; in fact, after much study, scientists have determined that they are transmitted only in what might be characterized as very rare scenarios.

    Between the Delta and Omicron variants, there is . . .

    Epsilon: Transmissible through podcasts. Sound scary? It’s not. Take into account that you have to listen to an entire podcast, beginning to end, in one go, including commercials, paying attention the whole time. Very rare.

    Zeta: Spread through the sharing of a McRib sandwich. Only the Filet-O-Fish sub-variant is of less concern. The C.D.C. has partnered with dedicated contact tracers at mcriblocator.com to ceaselessly flag the isolated outbreaks via pressed-pork sandwiches. Cannot be spread through fries. Relax.

    Eta: Passed via the sharing of an iPhone charger, but only when the owner of the charger has less battery power than the borrower. Epidemiologists have not recorded a single instance of such selflessness in the United States.

    Theta: Quite unique, the theta variant spreads via quicksand. Spreads slowly, though the sand is quick! If you have to have two people in quicksand, one with covid, neither with a mask, and both sinking, together . . . it’s hard to say who gave it to whom. But then again they have a bigger problem to worry about.

    Iota: Kazoo. Specifically, the sharing of a kazoo. Friends are advised not to share one or play one in front of each other if they want to remain “Iota safe,” or simply remain “friends.”

    Kappa: A truly odd evolutionary mutation, Kappa spreads through the re-dipping of a strawberry in a chocolate fountain, followed by the reusing of the toothpick, and then the licking of one’s fingers, and then, finally, the licking of the fingers of the Kappa-infected subject. Nobody does this. Well, not adults, not if they have boundaries.

    Lambda: Contracted only by attending a “Chris Christie for President” rally. This variant has never been found and will never be found. Sorry, champ.

    Mu: Spread via the burping of the entire national anthem by an infected individual. Outbreaks linked to tailgating events and frat hazings. Keep one hand over your heart, and two masks over your mouth.

    Nu: Transmissible only by the shared wearing of a bald cap in an evening of light comic sketches. Improvisers beware!

    Xi: Spread by the sharing of pertinent knowledge gained from a liberal-arts degree. The key word is “pertinent.” Rarest variant by far—practically inconceivable. ♦



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