We are seeing a significant shift in the way we shop, eat, go to school, eat, or travel. It is rare to see masks. Hugging and crowding are common. People also travel a lot. Google’s latest COVID Community Mobility Report reveals that almost all forms of activity are back to normal, compared to their pre-pandemic baseline. However, some are confused and disoriented. Mainstream media and many “experts“ continue to admonish us to avoid exposure. Is this the dangerous pandemic stage? Is the population being reckless? Are we seeing a crowd-sourced and rational reset of risk tolerance that is based on more information, options, lived experience, or are the throngs being irresponsible?
Current data isn’t in dispute. However, the meaning and implications of these data are not in dispute.
What’s clear is that the latest Omicron sub-variants are running rampant across the globe. They are among the most deadly human viruses. While vaccines are still highly effective at preventing severe disease and transmitting it, they have a much lower effectiveness in stopping infection. The virus has a remarkable ability to bypass the immune system, even if they have been previously infected. It is almost impossible to prevent or treat infections. There are many people we know, whether they be public figures or neighbors, who have experienced and recovered from COVID-19. That’s likely to remain the case. Given the characteristics of SARS-COV-2, the name of the virus that causes the disease, it is unlikely that future variants — or newer vaccines — will change the prospect of waves of infection and reinfection.
They are numerous. Currently, there are more than 100,000 infections reported each day. The actual U.S. infection detection rates are around 14%, despite the fact that most home testing is not reported. Over three quarter million Americans become infected each day. That’s 1.5 percent of the entire U.S. population every week.
Although there has been a slight increase in the number of hospitalizations and deaths caused by the infection, these numbers are close to their lowest level of the pandemic. Omicron’s severe effects are much less common than those from the Delta strain. A UK study found this, regardless of whether or not people have been vaccinated. Age cohorts show the same drastic upward shift in deaths among elders and those most at risk as ever since the beginning of the pandemic.
The stark reality is that many Americans won’t be vaccinated. Although there have been many efforts to convince them, only 20% of American adults want to get vaccinated. Another five percent remain unconvinced. Three-quarters of the children between the ages of 12-17 and 64 percent for kids aged 5-11 years are not vaccinated. Antibody analysis revealed that between 70-80% of the Omicron surge’s victims were unvaccinated in February. AllInfected children under the age of 1 were also infected. It is possible that almost all of the children who have been exposed to these more contagious sub-variants are infected.
Robust population immunity provides the ultimate protection against any serious outcome from an airborne virus. Many factors influence the level of protection for any population. These include vaccine effectiveness, vaccination coverage and longevity. The same principles apply to natural infections that generate immunity. Oral antivirals like Paxlovid, which are administered orally, can be used to treat symptoms in those at high risk. They also significantly reduce hospitalizations and deaths.
This is where so many people are choosing to go back to their normal lives, accepting the possibility of infection and exposure. Does that sound good? Are they good or bad?
It’s natural. What we are witnessing is an inevitable phase of societal psychosocial adaptation to living with the virus–an evolutionary arc moving from fear to resignation to acquiescence to normalcy. Without completing this process, we will never be able to return to normalcy. This natural adaptation is both a human and social one, based on more knowledge, experience and the evolution of virus. New York City saw an increase in hospitalizations and cases at that time. Mayor Eric Adams was criticised for ending the color-coded system to warn of virus transmission. The alarm system isn’t being altered by changing its settings.
The public is becoming increasingly “immune” to the daily barrage of uncertainties and warnings from “experts” and the media. This is in large part due to wisdom-of the-crowds common knowledge and rational risk adaption, not blind disregarding science and facts. This requires a complicated revision to our individual risk calculation.
The reality is that current high levels of population immunity will be maintained, and greatly dampen the effects of today’s and likely future variants. This will occur both actively–through ongoing vaccination and boosters–and passively, through relentless cycles of mostly asymptomatic or mild but rarely severe infections.
Access to vaccines is now possible for most COVID-19 patients. This means that they are at risk of a mortality rate comparable to the influenza epidemic. It is great news.
It is It is notNews that is applicable to people who are elderly or immunodeficient. Sensitive people are at greater risk and require more vigilant protection strategies. These people must be protected.
Current science suggests a more flexible policy that is risk-tolerant and free from shame and mandates. As people and institutions realize the negative consequences of finding cases in many situations, we can expect less testing and quarantine. This is true even when there is a high risk of infection in the community and most cases are mild to moderate. This is the reason for the recent CDC Order removing the requirement to test international passengers before they enter the U.S. Expect more relaxed of such mandates.
The opinions of media professionals and experts are being challenged by the information and social trends that inform them. This is neither pandemic fatigue, nor an inexplicable disregard of facts. It’s a natural, messy transition phase supported by increasing knowledge, lived experience and better tools. Since early 2020, we have long longed for the light at the end. It is now visible if you look closely enough.
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