In the Philippines, we are enjoying a much needed respite from our long hard battle with COVID. We are enjoying record low numbers in new cases and positivity rates, an official “low risk” status from WHO, and more relaxed restrictions. Many are looking forward to having small Christmas parties once again with immediate family. But even as we breathe easier, much of the world is facing tremendous uncertainty as the global struggle against the virus enters a new round.
The major concern now is the new COVID variant Omicron. South African scientists made public its existence on November 25, after having discovered it in Botswana. Within days, multiple nations imposed heightened travel restrictions and the financial markets tumbled.
Little is still known about Omicron. However, because it is a highly mutated form, it is spurring fears that it could be more infectious than Delta. While current vaccines continue to protect individuals, it could be more vulnerable against Omicron.
More will be known in the coming weeks. So far, based on confirmed cases, it seems more transmissible, even among the vaccinated, but much less potent, resulting in mostly mild cases. If true, this could actually be a positive development as herd immunity could potentially be reached with minimal casualties.
As of writing, it has been detected in over 60 nations and in 25 states in the US. It couldn’t have come at a worse time for Europe, as it was already in the middle of a fourth COVID surge. Reported cases in the region were at 700,000 per week in early September climbing to 2.6 million per week in November. This was before Omicron. There is much unrest as several European governments have imposed lockdowns and have been experimenting with varying degrees of compulsory vaccination.
But the spotlight is on the UK. Omicron comprises a fraction of the 48,000 new cases a day. However, at its current rate of doubling every three days, it is poised to become the dominant variant in a few weeks. All eyes are on Britain, as it could serve as the pattern of how potent Omicron is and how governments can contain it.
With all of these developments, it is easy to lose heart. But the apostle Paul said in Philippians 4:6–7, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Let us look to God for His protection and deliverance. Let us intercede for the nations. Allow the grace of God to blanket our hearts and minds.
During this Christmas season, let us honor God, celebrate His birth, enjoy our families, pray, and stay safe. God bless us all.
- Pray that this new variant quickly disappears and dies away. Let us believe that Omicron will turn out to be a weak variant with little to no effect.
- Intercede for Europe, the US, and Africa, as they are at the frontlines of research and fighting Omicron. Pray for wisdom, cooperation, and generosity over governments, health departments, the WHO, pharmaceuticals, and the scientific community as they seek to understand the new variant and how best to contain it.
- Let us continue to ask for God’s favor and protection over the Philippines. That we will continue to have low case numbers and positivity rates over the holidays so that we can enjoy Christmas with our loved ones. Pray for a delay in the arrival of Omicron, so our government will have time to prepare.
Every Nation is a global family of churches and campus ministries, of which Victory is a founding member.
We are called to make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19). This is the reason we value world missions as a church and persistently pray for the nations every month.
To learn more about the situation about the Omicron variant and what’s going on in Europe, you can check the news and resources in the links below.
- New York Times article about the Omicron variant spreading in the UK
- BBC article about the surge in Europe
- BBC article about the fall of global markets after the Omicron warning
- Inquirer explainer about the Omicron variant
- Inquirer article about the efficacy of existing vaccines against the Omicron variant