Nothing screams of desperation quite like offering money so people can take a booster shot for a "vaccine" that apparently does nothing to actually prevent the spread of the covid virus. And yet, that's what New York City is doing: according to outgoing socialist mayor Bill de Blasio, the Big Apple is digging back into its pockets as it scrambles to curb the record-setting omicron tide spreading across the heavily -vaccinated city, and is offering $100 cash to anyone who gets a COVID-19 booster at a city-run vaccine site between now and New Year's Eve.
Calling the program "by far the biggest booster incentive program in the United States of America," Bill de Blasio acknowledged the limited-time opportunity but said it was coming at exactly the right time for the pandemic-weary city, NBC New York reports.
"This will be by far the biggest booster incentive program in the United States of America and I want to see New Yorkers respond," he said. "This is the moment. Get those booster shots. Help make your family safer, help make this whole city safer."
New Yorkers can also go to SOMOS sites partnering with the city and get the $100 incentive.
De Blasio, in his waning days in office, made the announcement during his third COVID briefing in three days as he seeks to boost protection for the one-time pandemic epicenter, which is now in the throes of another intense viral wave.
The Democrat warned New Yorkers that his health team expects the current surge to intensify in short order, contributing to an unprecedented increase in viral spread, but this latest wave is only expected to last a few weeks.
The city's rolling case weekly average is up nearly 123% over the averages for the prior four weeks, Tuesday's data shows. Hospitalizations are up 12% by the same parameters, but the vast majority of those cases are people who aren't vaccinated.
"Everyone who has not been vaccinated, it's time. Everyone who has not gotten that booster, it's time. This city is ready to make sure everyone gets that booster and that's the way we move through these challenging few weeks," de Blasio said Tuesday. "No more shutdowns. We've been through them, they were devasting, we can't go through it again. We need to all work together these next few weeks."
While much is still to learn about omicron, de Blasio has said research shows it is most certainly more transmissible than any previous strain and likely more vaccine-resistant. But we do know vaccinations work against omicron, he says and data from Moderna and Pfizer show boosters make the protection even more effective. Actually what he meant is that the vaccination does nothing at all to contain the spread of Omicron, and as for whether it is actually more severe in unvaccinated patients, that remains to be seen - so far Omicron has been extremely mild across all carriers.
Meanwhile, Omicron has already usurped the delta variant as the most dominant COVID strain in the United States, accounting for nearly three-quarters of all new cases last week, officials said late on Monday. There was nearly a six-fold increase in omicron's share of new U.S. infections in just a week, according to the CDC.
New York City data only has omicron representing 1% of all genetically sequenced cases, but so few positive samples are tested like that (3.6% statewide) that the actual count is likely far higher, officials say. The positivity rates the five boroughs have experienced so far this month reflect the heightened contagiousness of omicron, which is said to replicate up to 70 times faster in airways than delta.
As New York City's top doctor recently said, "Omicron has proven to be the fastest, fittest and most formidable COVID-19 variant due to its ability to evade the immune system, meaning that those who’ve already had COVID and those who are vaccinated are more likely to be infected with omicron compared to past variants."
While early data has shown this variant may be more vaccine-resistant than earlier COVID strains, accounting in part for rising rates of breakthrough infections, all existing vaccines provide more protection against the variant than no vaccine, and booster shots multiply that protection considerably, the drugmakers - who "clearly" have no conflict of interest - have said.