Members of the public disembark a train at King Cross Station in London, on the day that extra measures are put in place to fight the spread of the Omicron variant of Covid-19. Since Nov. 30, it's been mandatory for people in England to wear face coverings in shops and on public transport. (Ben Cawthra/Sipa USA/Sipa via AP Images)

Omi­cron is a test for the next pan­dem­ic. Will the world keep mak­ing the same mis­takes?

Like hun­dreds of oth­er vi­rol­o­gists and epi­demi­ol­o­gists, Ben­jamin tenO­ev­er’s Thanks­giv­ing week­end was in­ter­rupt­ed with emails about an emer­gency Omi­cron meet­ing.

But when he logged on­to a WHO con­fer­ence call 9 a.m. Mon­day morn­ing, of­fi­cials had a sur­pris­ing­ly up­beat spin on the lit­tle-un­der­stood vari­ant that had al­ready prompt­ed lead­ers around the world, fear­ful the strain could evade vac­cines, to close their bor­ders to broad swaths of South­ern Africa.

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Boston, MA, USA