Covid: Still too soon to relax

Covid: Still too soon to relax. By Gregg Gonsalves.

We’ve entered a new phase in the Covid-19 pandemic, which we can call bipartisan, unilateral surrender. … We’re vaxxed-and-done now and we should be allowed, with no more mask requirements or other efforts to mitigate spread, to resume our pre-pandemic lives with the “urgency of normal.” …

People who were scrupulous about following public health advice in 2020 are now too tired, frustrated, and fed-up to care. Those still masking, doing some social distancing, trying to do their part to stem the tide of the pandemic are being treated as if they are holdouts in a war that is long over. Or risk-averse scaredy-cats, ridiculed as out-of-touch liberal elites …

Except the pandemic is not over by a long shot. We’ve been seeing 1,000 deaths a day in the United States for months now; over the past few weeks, as Omicron deaths catch up to the vast number of infections diagnosed weeks earlier, we’ve had far more than that. …

Hospitals are still reeling in many places, and both health care and public health workers on the front line are just burned out and losing their shit. And that word — endemic — which in epidemiological terms connotes a pathogen that has stabilized at a long-term equilibrium in a population — hasn’t really arrived yet, with the pandemic still raging across the globe, even as Omicron numbers start to decline in some places.

Then there’s the belief — now popular in the press — that Omicron is the “last” variant of any real concern. We’ll all have been exposed to the virus or vaccinated against it soon enough, and any subsequent strains that may wash over us will be mild, no worse than the flu or the common cold. …

If we want to learn from history, we can simply look at the 20th century’s most fearsome pandemics for guidance. John Barry, the historian of the great influenza of 1918, reminds us that the deadly fourth wave of that catastrophe only occurred in 1920, when millions had already been exposed to the virus, when the lethality of the third wave was subsiding, most people had let down their guard, and no public official was interested in pushing mitigation efforts in the face of the indifference and weariness of a nation.

Barry also reminds us that “natural immunity” and vaccination after the influenza pandemics in the late 1950s didn’t stop the virus from cutting a large swath of death in 1960 when it returned with a vengeance.

Without vaccines or anti-virals, omicron is still much more harmful than flu. But with ivermectin on hand for if symptoms appear, and/or used for prevention, covid’s down at the flu level.

But getting the bureaucrats to change their mind and flip from vaccines to ivermectin is the hardest thing in the world, because they would rather die than change their minds and admit error.