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Analysis: How a tennis legend, the US Supreme Court and the Winter Olympics are reshaping Covid politics

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Far from alleviating the extreme dilemmas the pandemic presents leaders, the milder Omicron variant is making them more acute — partly because its transmissibility is still filling hospitals and gutting vital workforces. And yet, as the global crisis enters a third year, there’s a palpable sense that populations, at least in democracies, are beginning to move on — through exhaustion or collective common sense — to a new accommodation with Covid-19. But China’s Communist rulers are going in the opposite direction, locking down millions of their people as they try to prevent the Winter Olympics — a showcase for the country’s emerging superpower might — from becoming a humiliating epicenter of infection.

In the US and parts of Europe, meanwhile, this shift is also being driven by the fact many people have tested positive, or know someone who has, and experienced few symptoms, leading to questions about the logic of current public health guidance,…

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