Trevor Noah on Omicron: ‘How did that happen after everything we did?’

Late-night hosts discuss the US travel ban following the discovery of the Omicron variant and supply chain concerns on Cyber Monday

Trevor Noah

Trevor Noah returned to the post-Thanksgiving Daily Show with concerning global health news: the discovery of Covid’s Omicron variant, which preliminary evidence suggests is more transmissible than previous variants.

Take it from a South African: the Omicron travel ban is bulls**t

— The Daily Show (@TheDailyShow) November 30, 2021

“I understand the frustration of facing yet another new variant,” said Noah. “I mean, how did that happen after everything we did? For two years now, people, we wore masks – for some of the time. We social distanced, when it was convenient. And like half of us got vaccinated. What more is it going to take?!”

Though the World Health Organization has declared Omicron a cause for concern, there’s still much that’s unknown about the variant, such as how long it’s been around, if it causes more severe illness, or if it could evade vaccines. “We know less about this variant than your grandmother knows about Jojo Siwa,” Noah remarked.

Yet skittish governments have reacted swiftly, imposing travel restrictions on South Africa, where Omicron was first sequenced, and several neighboring countries. “It gives us time to take more actions,” Joe Biden said of US travel bans. “To move quicker, to make sure that people understand: you have to get your vaccine.”

“Yes, if you give America just a couple more weeks, surely all the anti-vaxxers will finally come around and get their shots,” Noah deadpanned.

Though he understood the US rationale – “if you can slow down the spread of Omicron, even a little bit, then you have time to research it, you have time to work on new vaccines, and you have time to consult with Joe Rogan on a treatment plan,” he joked – Noah explained that, as a South African, “I think this travel ban is total bullshit, I really do.”

Omicron has already been identified in a dozen countries around the world – “it’s everywhere from Hong Kong to Israel to Spain, so why aren’t you banning travel from all those countries too?” he wondered. “Only the African countries? What’s the difference between the African countries and – ohhh,” he joked.

“Don’t forget about the costs of this action, too,” he added. “Because you do realize that other countries are paying attention, and they realize that if they’re going to get punished for telling the world about new variants, they’re going to stop telling the world whenever their scientists discover new variants.”

Stephen Colbert

On the Late Show, Stephen Colbert celebrated Cyber Monday, AKA the online shopping day of the year. “It’s the highlight of the holiday season: children lie awake in their beds listening for the click click of their mom entering promo codes,” he said. “And it might be hard to find the perfect gift this season because the supply chain is still a mess.”

Due to concern over delivery times, many holiday shoppers are stockpiling their favorite gifts. “That’s why really smart shoppers don’t wait till Black Friday – they start trampling people weeks ago,” Colbert joked.

One survey found that 20% of shoppers plan to order more gifts in case some orders are delayed or canceled. “So if you’re doing the 12 days of Christmas, be safe and double your order,” said Colbert. “That’s 16 maids a-milking, that’s 20 lords a-leaping, and forget about 12 drummers drumming – just hire the Texas A&M marching band.”

The host quoted a retail expert who described the market as: “We see a consumer who is anxious to spend … They are eager to shop and anxious about the execution.”

“Coincidentally, ‘eager to shop and anxious about the execution’ was also the title of Marie Antoinette’s memoir,” Colbert quipped.

Jimmy Kimmel

And in Los Angeles, Jimmy Kimmel also discussed the Omicron variant. “Experts are hoping it ends up like the second season of Tiger King, where everybody talks about it but nobody actually experiences it,” he noted.

“But of course, the right wingnuts have a theory on this. Their theory is that the variant is some kind of ploy concocted by the Democrats to help them win elections.” The former White House physician Dr Ronny Jackson, now a Republican congressman from Texas, tweeted that Omicron heralded the arrival of the “Midterm Election Variant”.

“Let me get this straight, Dr Ronny: Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi developed this variant to encourage Democrats to vote by mail, is that how it goes?” Kimmel marveled. “Seems like maybe you’re giving them too much credit. You think Democrats are that organized? They can’t even get Joe Manchin to support maternity leave, I don’t think they’re creating viruses.”


Adrian Horton

The GuardianTramp

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