Talk about letting variants like Omicron just pass through society unrestricted reveals a frightening proximity to the ideas of social Darwinism.

So, I caught Covid. About a month ago, the dreaded double line on one of the innumerable rapid tests I have taken over the course of this pandemic confirmed what I had already suspected.

Naturally, I did everything you're supposed to do when this happens. I was already self-isolating, as I had developed a light cough two days prior. I declared my rapid test result online to the authorities, and I went to take a PCR test the following morning to confirm my infection.

Ultimately, I was alright. I was in isolation for ten days and the only symptoms I developed were a cough and a stuffy nose. I am vaccinated up to my eyeballs and knowing this definitely also calmed my nerves.

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Experiences like mine seem to be what leads many to call for a different strategy in the fight against the coronavirus. Omicron is harmless, they say, so let's throw caution to the wind and "just let it rip".

I don't know if it's just the mental strain of living through two long, exhausting years of pandemic but this is definitely something I've increasingly noticed over the past months. The longer this crisis goes on, the more people appear to be willing to embrace positions that are clearly rooted in social Darwinist thinking.

The subtle legacy of a dark past

According to Encyclopaedia Britannica, social Darwinism is "[…] the theory that human groups and races are subject to the same laws of natural selection as Charles Darwin perceived in plants and animals in nature".

In essence, it's the idea of "survival of the fittest" but applied to human society.

In its more extreme forms, social Darwinism has expressed itself in the state racism of the Nazis, Eugenics, and the Shoah. After the end of World War II, the theory of social Darwinism was unsurprisingly completely discredited among the majority of the scientific community. Not only because of the horrific crimes committed by the Nazis, but also because there is simply no empirical evidence to support it.

But the ideas of social Darwinism have survived in more subtle forms. The concept of 'meritocracy', the tendency to transform everything into a competition including education, the idea that "economically successful" automatically equates "morally good": all of this has an undertone of social Darwinism.

And the pandemic has given this way of thinking yet another dimension. Everything we did throughout the health crisis, from social distancing to masks, vaccines, and booster shots, all of it has been one giant act of solidarity meant to protect each other, and above all else the most vulnerable members of our societies.

At the beginning, most people were very much on board with this: Of course, we must protect the elderly! Of course, we must protect those with pre-existing conditions! Of course!

But the longer this thing went on, the more people became annoyed with the restrictions they had to deal with. The fact that such a depressingly high number of people still refuse to be vaccinated, thus prolonging the pandemic even further, does not help the situation either.

'Most' is not good enough

So, what does social Darwinism have to do with all of this? Particularly since the emergence of Omicron, there are some phrases and ways of interpreting the daily figures that pop up again and again.

For instance, when talking about the number of children in intensive care, or worse still those who died of Covid-19, many are quick to point out that these children "generally had pre-existing conditions". They may not mean it to come across this way, but what this implies is that it's "just" children with pre-existing conditions. If "healthy" children were dying, oh well that would be an entirely different story, but since they are generally all fine, what are you all so worried about?

You don't even have to believe me on this. Just listen to parents of children with pre-existing conditions. For a whole lot of them, this is exactly how sentences like these come across.

And this is precisely the problem with this whole "Omicron-is-mild" shtick. Yes, the variant seems to be less dangerous for "most" of us, but have we ever really stopped to consider what this means for all those who are not part of this "most"? For the sick children, who many not even have had a chance to be vaccinated yet, for those with donor organs, for the elderly? And what about those who truly cannot be vaccinated due to a medical condition?

The people advocating to "let Omicron rip" to "just get it over with" are, whether consciously or not, accepting the potential deaths of countless lives. Such blatant disregard for human life should turn our stomachs upside down.

The value of a human life is not up for debate, and we must realise that we are treading on highly dangerous paths if we succumb to such ideas even in the slightest.

Of course, times are very difficult. For all of us. We all yearn to return to some semblance of normalcy. As I've pointed out so many times in these op-eds, I'm not a virologist or epidemiologist. But if you listen to the vast majority of reputable health experts, we will see the end of this pandemic. And we can do our part to speed up the process: mask up, remain cautious, and please, for the love of all that is holy, please get the vaccine.

Looking out for each other is still the best tactic we have. Let's not throw it out the window for the final sprint.