660 days of plague: the boosted notes


No ill effects yet, though I am braced for an uncomfortable night and morning.

The omicron variant is zooming here, as elsewhere, with a massive 82% increase in infections reported today; I would not be surprised if we burst through the delta variant peak in the next few days. (Today: 11778. Record, reported 2 December: 17917.)

But hospital numbers have not been rising as rapidly as in previous waves. Yes, they are up a bit but really not a lot, all things considered. And ICU numbers are actually sill decreasing. We’ll need another couple of days o be sure, but I think the theoty that omicron may be more infectious but less serious is looking fairly credible.

With all of that, the government solemnly met today and decided not to change anything. There were rumours that they had been advised to shift back to 100% teleworking, but in the end they decided to wait and see. So for now I’ll be going into the office on Wednesdays. (If anyone in Brussels wants to meet for lunch, or a pint after work, on a Wednesday, do give me a shout.)

I’m going to divert a bit and talk about career development in pandemic times. I had lunch yesterday with a friend a couple of years older than me who was recently let go from the non-profit job he had had for two decades. Under Belgian law, he still gets paid a month for every year he worked there, so he’s not under economic pressure until late 2023, but of course he is looking around. I mentioned a few possibilities that seemed obvious to me from his CV, and then at the end of the conversation he started talking about one of his hobbies; and his eyes lit up with an enthusiasm that had been absent when we were talking about political work. For heaven’s sake, I said, build yourself a small business working in that hobby (a niche area with lots of fans and certain high-value items and consequently immense transaction fees). I hope he does that. The current situation makes us all more reliant on existing channels of communication, and deters people (well, deters me at least) from setting up new links in the casual way that was possible in the olden times.

This morning I had two separate conversations with two different 21-year-old women who both graduated with their first degrees last summer, one from Northern Ireland, one from Luxembourg (both daughters of old friends). They have had very different university experiences from anyone older than them. Both were really clear about the policy areas that they were really interested in, which of course is really helpful in terms of thinking about where they could look for future employment, so I think I was able to make some concrete suggestions in both cases. But I thought afterwards, in olden times, I could have recommended conferences for them to attend and meet other people with their specific interests, and so that they could make a good impression as potential future hires. It’s much more difficult now, and it’s going to stay difficult for a while.

Stay well, everyone, and get boosted as soon as you can.

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