The Pandemic Isn’t Over Yet
My sister-in-law isn’t planning to get the coronavirus vaccine. She’s not political. She considers herself off the grid. She’s into spiritual healing and alternative medicine. She doesn’t have health insurance. She doesn’t see a doctor, but she’s on medicaid “just in case.”
It’s throwing a little wrench into our summer plans. We’re debating whether we should capitulate and visit family anyway, since we haven’t seen them in over a year. After all, we’re vaccinated.
Our daughter isn’t.
The latest research says kids aren’t likely to get severely sick from the coronavirus. Still, it happens. I’ve seen nurses on social media describe how it feels to treat toddlers in ICUs, all because their parents had to proceed with their holiday gatherings and family vacations.
So, that’s the situation my family’s in. What other people choose to do (or not do) has a direct impact on our safety, and how we live our lives. This is the thing we, as a society, keep failing to understand.
Now it’s personal.
If that weren’t bad enough, now we have new variants throwing variables into the mix. Scientists “can’t confirm” our fears and suspicions. This is how science works. It lags behind common sense, and my common sense is watching the news in India and Brazil and telling me to be a little concerned. It’s saying the pandemic isn’t over yet.
It’s just happening somewhere else.
India’s Healthcare System Has Collapsed.
In India, more than three hundred thousand people a day are getting infected with yet another variant of the coronavirus.
The surge is puzzling scientists.
Just months earlier, antibody data had suggested that many people in cities such as Delhi and Chennai had already been infected, leading some researchers to conclude that the worst of the pandemic was over in the country.
That’s never good. When scientists “are puzzled,” that tells me some pretty bad news is coming. All this suggests that the virus is quickly adapting to our antibodies, faster than we expected.
Like us, India declared victory too soon. They ended all of their restrictions. It only took a month for the virus to spread completely out of control. Now their death toll is heading to unspeakable new highs. Their hospitals are running out of beds and oxygen. The rich are fleeing on private jets. This is going to be us if we continue relaxing our own restrictions, and mommy bloggers keep spreading misinformation about vaccines.
It gets worse.
Imagine what happens when you have a highly contagious virus spreading through a country with more than 1 billion people. It enjoys exponentially more opportunities to mutate. Honestly, nobody knows what’s going to come out of this scenario.
We Keep Declaring the Pandemic Is “Over.”
Call me a pessimist.
Lately there’s been a lot of sentiment that everyone’s “done” with the pandemic. They’re tired of it. They’re tired of the masks and social distancing. Well, that might be true. The funny thing is, people have been saying this since the pandemic started. The people who complain the loudest are the ones always talking about endurance and grit.
Hey, I get it. I’m tired of this too.
Just one thing…
The pandemic’s not done with us yet. Viruses don’t get tired. They don’t sleep. They don’t have emotions or political views. As we’ve seen time and again, they’re very good at adapting to circumstances.
We keep trying to declare the end of the pandemic. Countries have been down this road a dozen times now.
It doesn’t end well.
There’s Another New Variant in Town.
India declared they were in “the endgame” with the pandemic just a couple of months ago. They’re now reeling.
The U.S. could be next.
Meet variant BV-1. It shows “signs of antibody resistance and more severe illness in young people.”
Here’s what happened:
The variants already in circulation got together in one person and swapped genetic material. Now we’ve got a version of the virus that’s more contagious, better at evading our immune systems, and better at killing young people. That’s pretty bad news.
It’s just what all the experts were scared of. It’s what they’ve been warning us about as states declared victory and lifted restrictions.
This is going to keep happening.
These variants exist because we keep giving the virus opportunities to adapt to our bodies. We keep predicting victory too soon, and letting our guard down. It’s a pattern with us.
It’s a deadly one.
Our Greatest Weakness Is Our Invincibility.
A lot of us secretly think we’re invincible. No, we won’t say that out loud. It sounds absolutely insane. That’s what we think, though.
We think we’re too healthy to die from a virus that causes mild symptoms in some people. We think being healthy is a shield.
Plenty of healthy people have died from the coronavirus. This thing doesn’t care how much you exercise, or whether you drink vitamin water. It will take you down if it can. Now it’s stronger than ever.
It’s got upgrades.
If we keep showing our collective stupidity, then this virus is going to figure out a way to outsmart our vaccines.
Then we’ll be screwed.
We’re Not as Happy as We Sound.
A few weeks ago, some of my own friends had a small party. They posted maskless selfies. It made me uneasy. I made one little comment along the lines of “Be careful.” Suddenly, I was a villain.
I was a buzzkill.
They told me how they’d been so careful this entire time. They deserved a little reprieve. “Besides, the pandemic is almost over,” one of the replied. Two weeks later, half of them wound up so sick they couldn’t get out of bed. One of them went to the hospital.
There’s a vocal group of people ready to celebrate the end of the pandemic. There always is. That’s one thing you can count on. They’re fired up and ready to get back to the parties and open office floor plans.
Then there’s the rest of us.
We’re burned out. We’ve been taking the pandemic seriously, and we still are. We’re getting pretty irritated at the people who keep acting like it’s not a big deal, until someone they know personally catches the virus and winds up in a hospital gasping for breath.
That’s how a lot of people’s brains operate. They don’t think anything is real until it almost kills them.
There’s a Reason for Pessimism.
Pessimism is only a problem when it’s unjustified. In this case, I’d say it’s pretty justified. Every single bad thing we’ve predicted so far has actually happened. It’s come true. Some of us knew last May that the virus was airborne. We were called pessimists. We predicted variants, and we were dismissed as paranoid lunatics.
Now they’re here.
Only one thing has gone in our favor so far, and that’s the vaccine rollout. Now it’s starting to look like the anti-vaxxers could spoil that for us, too. Thanks to them, this pandemic might never end.
It’ll just simmer for a while.
Some of us were looking forward to at least some version of normal later this year. Now we’re back to the same old holding pattern, exercising caution because others won’t, making predictions that naive optimists dismiss as pessimistic crazy talk.
It doesn’t seem to matter how many times my camp turns out to be right. Our optimism and arrogance always get the better of us.
It’s our downfall.