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Omicron fading but Europe divided on corona strategy

Ramin Mazaheri
Press TV, Paris

The coronavirus continues to provoke sharply different responses across Europe. There has been much concern over the new Omicron variant, but markets are surging on the bet that worries about Omicron have been as overblown as they were for the Delta variant.

France has had perhaps the strictest coronavirus measures in the West, but the government surprisingly announced only a handful of new minor measures and no new lockdown. Corporate profits and economic inequality continue to surge unabated during the corona era, and incumbent politicians may be thinking about this spring’s elections.

The government also said schools will not be closed early for vacation, and they rejected a vaccination order for children, at least for now. France may have been swayed by a new report which found that during the first 15 months of the epidemic not one healthy child between the ages of 5 to 18 died of Covid in Germany, Europe’s largest country.

France’s vaccination rate is now almost 80 percent. Prior to the pandemic, France was considered the most vaccine-skeptical nation in the world, but the introduction of a corona pass - which almost totally isolates the unvaccinated - has pushed people into compliance .

Around Europe lockdowns are back in Austria despite massive protests, Germany is debating a vaccine mandate, Italy has moved to a new “super health pass” and even though 2/3rds of Europe is fully vaccinated, stricter measures may soon be arriving regardless of the impact of
Omicron. Perhaps the only certainty is that no government seems able to please all their citizens.

After 21 months of corona domination what remains most unknown is when things will go back to normal. Europeans - especially non-vaccinated ones - are increasingly saying that time may be “never.”

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