Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz suggested that the COVID-19 vaccine prevents its recipients from contracting the omicron variant during a recent WCCO interview.
“The odds now are if you’re unvaccinated and you either have not had COVID or you had it a long time ago, you are going to get this [omicron],” he said in an interview published Monday. The obvious implication of this assertion is that if a person has received the vaccine, they are protected from the new variant.
This is not the first time he’s made such a claim. Last year, he said in an official government release that the shot is “the best way to … prevent the virus from spreading in our communities.”
However, the most recent data seem to contradict the governor’s claims. Even mainstream outlets like the New York Times, Reuters, NPR, CNN, The Washington Post and others have all conceded that the vaccines don’t stop people from contracting omicron.
In fact, “in some countries there appears to be negative vaccine efficacy,” said Minnesota’s Dr. Neil Shah, who is running for governor. Iceland, for example, has long been hailed as a “vaccination success” and has the second-highest percent of the population boosted of any country, yet it is near the top of the pack when it comes to case rates.
Another interesting aspect of Gov. Walz’s recent statement is his apparent suggestion that previously having COVID protects people from contracting omicron. He specified that the unvaccinated and those who “either have not had COVID” or “had it a long time ago” are in danger — implying that a recent infection provides some protective qualities.
This is not an especially controversial statement. The National Institute of Health declared last January — nearly one year ago — that contracting and recovering from COVID grants “lasting immunity.” This statement is, however, remarkable when issued by Walz, whose vaccine mandate provided no exceptions for the naturally immune, much to the chagrin of some Minnesota Republicans.