When is the pandemic actually over?

posted by Jeff | Wednesday, December 1, 2021, 7:12 PM | comments: 0

Simon got his second Covid vaccine today, effectively about 20 and a half months after things started to get weird. There are a lot of feelings about that, starting with the frustration that someone else that we trusted ultimately caused his infection back in October. Diana and I were both double-shot in April, and we've since had the boosters as well. In fact, even before the boosters, we were well inoculated against infection despite Simon getting it. We didn't do anything special around him.

More than half of adults have been "done" since the spring, and I would say that in the general sense, we've engaged in pretty "normal" activity. We haven't done any significant travel, mostly because we didn't feel comfortable putting Simon in less controlled situations, and it's been almost two years since we've left Florida, which totally sucks. But we did renew Simon's passport and we're ready to go.

Does that mean the pandemic is "done" for us? I guess that depends. Variants will continue to occur, but natural selection dictates that the virus will become more transmissible and less harmful to the host over time if it is to survive. Given the massive levels of global infection and death, it seems reasonable to assume that will continue. There's reasonable concern about the new omicron variant because it's so different, and it isn't clear about how sick it makes people, how well the vaccines work against it, who might be most vulnerable to it.

This is frustrating, because it isn't clear when we call this over. However, I don't think there's a definitive end, just varying degrees to which we have to roll with mitigation. As a science enthusiast (is that a thing?), it can be frustrating because some of those tactics don't make a lot of sense. Wearing a mask in a venue where everyone is vaccinated, for example, seems silly since there's no significant evidence of a room full of vaccinated people infecting each other. Testing athletes constantly that are all vaccinated doesn't make a lot of sense either. On the other hand, if you have large working environments, like factories or warehouses, where vaccination is inconsistent, what choice do you have but to require masks and try to limit exposure between people?

The unfortunate thing about the current state of things is that much of the accommodation is intended to protect the folks who aren't vaccinated, mostly by choice. That fosters all kinds of resentment but also sadness, that so many people have died really for no reason. Nearly every death now, at least in the US, is preventable, not just because of the efficacy of the vaccines, but because if everyone played along there would be little to no community transmission in the first place. That's the critically important thing that has to be in place for folks that can't be vaccinated for medical reasons or they're heavily immunocompromised in the first place.

For us, and for now, things feel effectively normal. We're unlikely to get sick or be a vector for transmission. If we have to use masks in certain situations, even if the science doesn't support the situation, we'll do it because that's someone's rules, and we're not going to be dicks about it. At this point it's not ideal, but not a big deal. And we're definitely getting out of Florida for a few days.


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