Highly Vaccinated Israel Is Seeing A Dramatic Surge In New COVID Cases.
August 23, 2021 11:22 AM   Subscribe

Half of Israel's seriously ill patients who are currently hospitalized were fully vaccinated at least five months ago. Most of them are over 60 years old and have comorbidities. Experts warn if countries do not vaccinate their populations, more variants will develop, threatening even vaccinated nations.
posted by folklore724 (181 comments total) 33 users marked this as a favorite
 
This discussion with Dr Poland from the Mayo Clinic talks about the current phase of the pandemic.

There’s a good Q&A afterwards. The question and answer at 54 minutes caught my attention in that he anticipates (based on a good study out of the UK) that we will see variants that escape the vaccines completely in the near future. It isn’t certain but it is trending in that direction and we need a lot of hard work and good luck to avoid that.
posted by glaucon at 11:44 AM on August 23, 2021 [15 favorites]


So we know that the entire population won't be vaccinated, and a significant amount of people will not. People are going to extreme measures to avoid vaccination and in getting to the point where we eradicate the disease like say smallpox (to date as far as I'm aware the only disease we've eradicated), what can be done?

This is not giving up, we should still push people to get vaccinated but it won't happen in 12 months or 24 months. So instead of wishful thinking what's the prudent measures? Also is there a reason why some vaccines like polio don't mutate very much and some like Covid and the flu do?

Or will the inevitable simply be large portions of the population will get it while they're young and confer immunity into adulthood? Like chickenpox? I realize people can be reinfected but as far as I'm aware that's even more rare than vaccination.
posted by geoff. at 11:48 AM on August 23, 2021 [3 favorites]


The good spin is it still seems to drop infection rate by about 90% and severity as well. So that's still holding up. Everything else is depressing.

Also is there a reason why some vaccines like polio don't mutate very much and some like Covid and the flu do?

The simplest explanation is that Covid and the flu get more "shots on goal." I mean, in a year we've had 20% or more the country infected. Polio was never that bad in terms of infectivity.

There are other factors. The inherent mutation rate of the virus varies based on viral machinery. And some vaccines are more likely to stimulate antibodies to the non-functional parts of the virus; when that happens mutations that avoid the immune system are less likely to hinder the virus. But the infection rate is really the big one.
posted by mark k at 12:03 PM on August 23, 2021 [19 favorites]


The good spin is it still seems to drop infection rate by about 90% and severity as well.

I thought it was generally looking now like protection against infection (for Pfizer) was maybe 50-60 percent? For Delta, obviously. Protection against severe illness 80-90 percent.

(There have now been a couple of studies that had Moderna holding up better at 70+ percent against infection but those may be confounded somewhat by *when* people got it. Obviously the stat above is not people who just got a booster, it’s average.)
posted by atoxyl at 12:14 PM on August 23, 2021 [4 favorites]


So what happens when we're back at zero with a new variant that escapes the vaccines? There is no way that the US government and American corporations are going to do another round of pandemic unemployment or go back to remote school and working from home.
posted by Frowner at 12:15 PM on August 23, 2021 [21 favorites]


The NPR article buries the lede: "By June, all restrictions, including indoor masking, were abolished." Less than a month after Israel lifted restrictions, cases had re-entered exponential growth. Delta didn't help, but the die was cast the moment those restrictions were lifted. Not being exposed in the first place is always best, and it was insanity to lift those restrictions before herd immunity was reached.

Unfortunately we see the same pattern repeating in country after country. Almost no country is doing the right thing and holding firm to restrictions and masking until after everyone who can feasibly be vaccinated is, including children, which will require waiting for vaccines to be approved for them. Almost every country has jumped the gun, and the whole world is paying for it.

So instead of wishful thinking what's the prudent measures?

Limit time indoors and in crowded outdoor environments, especially among unmasked people. Always wear an N95 or similar mask any time you are indoors or in a crowded outdoor environment with people outside your bubble. Limit your exposure to unvaccinated people. It's not fun, but it's safe, and it's pretty much indefinitely safe because it doesn't depend on the actions of other people. N95s are very effective when worn properly. Lots of healthcare workers in ERs and COVID wards made it through the entire pre-vaccine period without getting COVID because of high quality masks.
posted by jedicus at 12:15 PM on August 23, 2021 [105 favorites]


half of Israel's seriously ill patients who are currently hospitalized were fully vaccinated at least five months ago

this is still the kind of stat I hate because it means nothing without the context of vaccination rates, but the article itself is somewhat clearer about what the deal is
posted by atoxyl at 12:17 PM on August 23, 2021 [20 favorites]


Racaniello of TWiV has been saying the Israeli study is flawed or blown out of proportion by the media, the solution (contrary to what Israeli officials say) is not boosters but getting vaccinated and masks/distancing.

The TWiV virologists emphasized that antibody levels are supposed to decrease (falling 2% per month). And that having constantly high antibody levels may not be a great idea. Also they mentioned that the Pfizer studies were never about preventing infection in the first place.
posted by polymodus at 12:23 PM on August 23, 2021 [12 favorites]


would new vaccines for variants take less time to develop than did the current ones? I'd imagine so, but I base that on no actual knowledge.
posted by skewed at 12:24 PM on August 23, 2021 [1 favorite]


See thread on Simpson's Paradox below/ this write-up in the linked thread. Basically, if you split the numbers up by age cohorts, things look a lot better: the vaccine is less effective for older people (>50) but still highly effective at preventing severe disease.
posted by damayanti at 12:24 PM on August 23, 2021 [34 favorites]


Just want to drop in with a reminder that COVID stats require some real thought when reporting.

First, there's the base rate fallacy. As more people are vaccinated, the /proportion/ of vaccinated people who get COVID will increase. At the limit, if 100% of people are vaccinated, then 100% of cases will be in vaccinated people. The headline here ('half were vaccinated >5 months ago') sounds likely to hide some base rate problems... Most people who wanted a vaccine rushed to get one, especially the most vulnerable parts of the population.

Second, here's a really nice blog post on Simpson's Paradox in Covid outcomes, specifically looking at Israeli data. In short, the vaccine is still 92.5% effective against sever disease for those under 50, and 85% effective against severe disease for those > 50. But if you mix the age groups, it only looks 67.5% effective! There's likely other confounding variables than age (eg, comorbidities) which would push effectiveness even higher were they broken out as well.
posted by kaibutsu at 12:24 PM on August 23, 2021 [82 favorites]


First, there's the base rate fallacy.

Can you please explain that to me like I'm right handed?
posted by The Bellman at 12:28 PM on August 23, 2021 [22 favorites]


I thought it was generally looking now like protection against infection (for Pfizer) was maybe 50-60 percent? For Delta, obviously. Protection against severe illness 80-90 percent.

That is a more precise statement of the facts than mine, to be fair. TFA has a 90% protection rate against "serious infection" in Israel.
posted by mark k at 12:32 PM on August 23, 2021


> Almost no country is doing the right thing and holding firm to restrictions and masking until after everyone who can feasibly be vaccinated is, including children, which will require waiting for vaccines to be approved for them.

And even if there were countries doing the right thing, probably every one of them has a significant percentage of anti-maskers/vaxxers who are going to interpret rising Covid numbers as proof of the righteousness of their cause, which will cause them to double-down on their misinformation and harassment campaigns, which will result in further variants and rising Covid numbers, which will validate the beliefs of the anti-maskers/vaxxers...I don't see a realistic end in sight.
posted by The Card Cheat at 12:37 PM on August 23, 2021 [13 favorites]


Just came here to link to the Simpson's Paradox analysis, as well. Numbers are not as clear-cut as NPR makes them.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 12:39 PM on August 23, 2021 [1 favorite]


Given that we know that even people who have been vaccinated and then get infected can still suffer from long COVID, intentionally exposing oneself seems incredibly foolhardy.
posted by ssg at 12:50 PM on August 23, 2021 [23 favorites]


This is not giving up, we should still push people to get vaccinated but it won't happen in 12 months or 24 months. So instead of wishful thinking what's the prudent measures?

I don't know but I think going back to discussions from previous months, serious work needs to be done to increase vaccine manufacturing capability around the world (not just in a handful of countries) so that X months from now we don't have whole countries and continents barely vaccinated not because of anti-vaxxers, but because there are no vaccines to be gotten in the first place because they're all earmarked for somewhere else.

Even if anti-vaxxers didn't exist at all, we would still have only around a third of the world partially vaccinated today. Besides the enormous costs for the unvaccinated parts of the world, that also means a huge reservoir for new mutations and a huge source of infection via travel (including shipping), both of which will continue to set back the rich, vaccinated countries.

"The most influential event was so many people who went abroad in the summer — vacations — and brought the delta variant very, very quickly to Israel," said Siegal Sadetzki, a former public health director in Israel's Health Ministry.

If new variants are going to keep needing new vaccines, this problem is going to keep repeating for every new variant. So working to help increase vaccine production capability on a global scale would make lots of sense. It would probably also mean cutting into Pfizer et al.'s profits somewhat and require lots of infusion of capital from richer countries. So probably it won't happen on any sufficient level any time soon.
posted by trig at 12:56 PM on August 23, 2021 [14 favorites]


Not a lot is known about prevalance of long covid in vaccinated cases. This New Yorker article has a good roundup of the available research. https://www.newyorker.com/science/medical-dispatch/have-you-already-had-a-breakthrough-covid-infection
Widen the lens to take in all the vaccinated [hospital] employees, and the long-COVID rate drops to less than one tenth of one per cent—something like one in fifteen hundred people.
posted by joeyh at 1:02 PM on August 23, 2021 [9 favorites]


Vaccinations by country. As trig mentions above anti-vaxxers are a relatively small part of the problem.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 1:04 PM on August 23, 2021 [3 favorites]


Experts warn if countries do not vaccinate their populations, more variants will develop, threatening even vaccinated nations.

Which is why the suggestion that vaccination is a matter of "individual choice" always has been risible.
posted by Gelatin at 1:05 PM on August 23, 2021 [23 favorites]


Or will the inevitable simply be large portions of the population will get it while they're young and confer immunity into adulthood? Like chickenpox?

Um... like shingles, are you saying ?
posted by y2karl at 1:10 PM on August 23, 2021 [28 favorites]


> Widen the lens to take in all the vaccinated [hospital] employees, and the long-COVID rate drops to less than one tenth of one per cent—something like one in fifteen hundred people.

The suggestion here was about vaccinated people intentionally infecting themselves. The Israeli study showed 19% of vaccinated people who got COVID had symptoms six weeks later. This was not a large sample, so the true long COVID prevalence might be quite different (and it is likely that many of those people have now recovered, but some may still be ill and may remain ill for years or indefinitely). No matter how you look at it, that's still a very big risk of potentially life-destroying illness to take.
posted by ssg at 1:13 PM on August 23, 2021 [1 favorite]


Besides! What if you cowboy around deliberately courting a breakthrough infection and catch it and the virus mutates in you and you come through fine but later you're declared patient zero for a brand new variant with an R-naught of 17 that jumps into dogs and wipes out man's best friend? Just seems wildly irresponsible. Maybe consider saying shit like this on youtube and opt to take a nap instead, damn.
posted by Don Pepino at 1:24 PM on August 23, 2021 [18 favorites]


besides the simpson's paradox aspect, another misleading way news has been sowing panic about the shortcomings of vaccines is by reporting the % of beds in hospital that are occupied by covid patients (including the simpson's paradox part that X percent of these are fully vax'd). i found it common for articles to report those numbers without giving any real numbers of total patients in hospital. many areas have very few beds available due to cost cutting. so while there may only be a few hundred people in ICU in a region with a population of millions, the headline often is "ICU at max capacity!" which is facially true but leads readers who arent aware how few beds there to assume that many thousands of vax'd people are admitted.
posted by wibari at 1:34 PM on August 23, 2021 [2 favorites]


Jesus. The world has gone insane.

While the coronavirus thing was an unexpected plot twist to current world history, the fact it continues to grow due 20% of the population not believing in it and willfully ignoring both conventional wisdom and professional in the name of freedom is bizarre and completely unforseeable. Things are getting weird.
posted by Keith Talent at 1:38 PM on August 23, 2021 [28 favorites]


Short comment: the covid prognosis is collective failure and an endemic state of increased mortality/disability and poverty. it didnt have to be this way but it is now clearly this way.

Long Rant:
Just because a test isn't hard doesn't mean we won't fail it. Covid has tested our human systems and we have failed and are going to fail harder.

Covid and climate change get compared a lot as collective action problems, but I think Covid and Nukes are a better analogy. On paper our scientists and institutions are up to the challenge. Some perform heroically; but humans also reliably fuck up, institutions are incompetant, leaders feckless or frauds and fuck-ups somewhere become problems everywhere. Covid has been much deadlier and much faster than the mine leaks, meltdowns and waste pools; but the situation is the same: we have to live and die with a persistant pervasive threat that hasn't been contained even if it could have beencontained.

Im sitting in quarantine now for 7 days (asymptomatic 2dose pfizer vaxxed - pos test after coworker exposure) and i've been re-reading/listening to items about Covid.from winter spring 2020; and about trump 2015-2020; and climate change 2010->

I think its time we accept that even when our systems and solutions could work that they,have failed.

Humans built amazing systems for global cooperation and exchange in entertainment/propoganda; finance and fraud; extraction of natural resources, shipment of goods, exploitation of labor, dispersal of pollution, projection of military and police state force.

We could use our powers for public health, material wellbeing, envirommental sustainability, human rights. But it is empirically the case that that is not what our systems do regardless of whether their mascot is jesus or muhamad or marx, adam smith's hand, mao, merkel or 'merica.
posted by anecdotal_grand_theory at 1:40 PM on August 23, 2021 [41 favorites]


Yeah, there's some interesting observations in the Campbell video. It seems like an excellent argument for including multiple proteins in future vaccines: teaching the immune system to protect against 3 proteins should already be far more effective than using a single target protein, even if we don't go as far as the full 28 proteins.

---

There was a Radiolab episode a while back that discussed finding many variants in a single individual with a very bad case of COVID months before they showed up in the wild. The suggestion is that variants are possibly starting in people with severe infections, where there's enough virus living and reproducing to produce lots of mutants quickly, rather than in asymptomatic individuals with low viral loads. IIRC, the patient under study also had the 'dominant' strain shift over time; basically, multiple reservoirs of mutated virus, where one takes over as the immune system learns to fight off the previous variant. Simply put: If your immune system is too weak to decisively fight off the virus, then the virus has more time to adapt/mutate around your immune system. And the new mutations can then spread into the population.

This seemed like some real early-days reporting, but if we can better understand where variants originate, then in the long term we might be able to make better vaccines based on likely mutations, and also do a better job of preventing spread from those points of origin. (eg, through more restrictive quarantines for people with bad infections and compromised immunity.)
posted by kaibutsu at 1:42 PM on August 23, 2021 [4 favorites]


Get your vax, wear a mask, keep your distance and brace yourselves for an age of failure.
posted by anecdotal_grand_theory at 1:42 PM on August 23, 2021 [12 favorites]


20% of the population not believing in it and willfully ignoring both conventional wisdom and professional in the name of freedom is bizarre and completely unforseeable.

I don’t know about unforeseeable. There are many societal events that people have spent years trying to explain via cultural or physical phenomenon (the 1980’s Satanic daycare panic comes to mind). Most can be explained by the fact that a lot of people are just jackasses.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 1:46 PM on August 23, 2021 [5 favorites]


It seems like an excellent argument for including multiple proteins in future vaccines: teaching the immune system to protect against 3 proteins should already be far more effective than using a single target protein, even if we don't go as far as the full 28 proteins.

Yeah I do have to say that I've been disappointed in the promise that the mRNA vaccines would be very easy (from both a technical and regulatory point of view) to update and improve over time.
posted by jedicus at 1:49 PM on August 23, 2021 [1 favorite]


Here's a superb thread from John Burn-Murdoch, one of the FT's COVID-19 reporters, explaining what we do and don't know from the latest statistics.
posted by PhineasGage at 1:52 PM on August 23, 2021 [6 favorites]


I remember vividly the day I went to an alligator farm, and walked along an elevated outdoor walkway with crowds of people. A lightning storm blew in, and the only way to evacuate to shelter was through the museum. The evacuation stalled because everyone was stopping and looking at the exhibits. I remember thinking "we are fucked if we have a national emergency that requires more cooperation than 'please keep moving the fuck inside'."
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 1:55 PM on August 23, 2021 [36 favorites]


Keith Talent "Things are getting weird", "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." Get vaxxed, get the booster(s)? as soon as you can. Put your mask on. Continue to social distance...

And then we can deal with any future, horrible mutations. So angry at anti-vaxx/maskers right now...
posted by Windopaene at 2:08 PM on August 23, 2021 [2 favorites]


When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." Get vaxxed, get the booster(s)? as soon as you can. Put your mask on. Continue to social distance...

And then we can deal with any future, horrible mutations. So angry at anti-vaxx/maskers right now...
posted by Windopaene at 2:08 PM on August 23 [+] [!]


No shit. Our first available vaccine was the AZ. Which was right at the time that there were reports of incredibly rare problems. My wife and I were discussing our options the day before our cohort was eligible for booking, she expressed hesitancy. I said I was booking immediately for sure. If you remembered back to the spring of 2020 you'd have literally knifed your mother in the street for ANY vaccine. Just because we had become complacent due living with the thret a of illness for a year didn't mean there was any change to our thinking. She agreed and we got our first dose.
posted by Keith Talent at 2:31 PM on August 23, 2021 [8 favorites]




63% of the population of Israel is fully vaccinated [source]. Israel is not highly vaccinated and the title of this post is highly misleading.
posted by heatherlogan at 2:43 PM on August 23, 2021 [32 favorites]


> If you remembered back to the spring of 2020 you'd have literally knifed your mother in the street for ANY vaccine.

June 2021: Okay, but do you have this vaccine in sparkling pomegranate?
posted by The Card Cheat at 2:51 PM on August 23, 2021 [5 favorites]


Given the delta variant's much higher R value, plus the expected breakthrough cases, it's not surprising that infection rates are going up again. However, the vaccine should be dampening the death rate. That also sense to be the case with the notable exception of Florids, which has a death rate higher than at any other time in the pandemic. Texas is not far behind.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 3:17 PM on August 23, 2021 [2 favorites]


It seems to me that exposure matters. A rain coat in dry weather will keep you dry 100% of the time. A rain coat in a drizzle will keep you dry 99% of the time. A rain coat in a downpour will keep you dry between 50-95% of the time depending on the rest of your outfit and how long you're outside. A rain coat in a hurricane will probably not keep you dry at all. (The vaccine is the rain coat.)
posted by dmh at 3:29 PM on August 23, 2021 [14 favorites]


Yeah but when does Jesus carry you in that analogy?
posted by Keith Talent at 3:35 PM on August 23, 2021 [32 favorites]


The Israeli study showed 19% of vaccinated people who got COVID had symptoms six weeks later.

Unless Israel are regularly testing the entire population, I think a better way to word that would be The Israeli study showed 19% of vaccinated people who got COVID and displayed noticable symptoms, would still have those symptoms six weeks later.
posted by Lanark at 3:38 PM on August 23, 2021 [9 favorites]


R.e. our ability to cooperate: I don’t want to bring us down but COVID is a way easier problem than climate change. It’s equivalent to “Try not to drive much for 1 year and climate change will be solved.” I mean really, vaccine, mask, distance, pay off people whose jobs are impacted, done. That was it once vaccines were found and in production.

Also in the US I had a lefty unvaxxed person call me out on Facebook for griping about unvaxxed folks. We’re not a monolith, she’d said. She’d been harassed from day 1 from not getting vaxxed, she said (how would anyone know???). After I tried to apologize and was rebuffed I unfriended her. In the US there are lots of groups not getting vaxxed, but the highest 3 predictors of “I’ll never get vaxxed” are rural, conservative, evangelical: Kaiser poll. Looks like it’s changed since then to include uninsured young people.

Btw my friend who didn’t get it has fibromyalgia or similar and has found some dubious alternative provider who says she can’t get it. I mean people with cancer get it . So.
posted by freecellwizard at 3:42 PM on August 23, 2021 [5 favorites]


I take it medical companies are constantly following these viruses, checking for potential mutations and following up. I'm all for rights of citizens, but this is ridiculous... all jobs should require all employees to get vaccinated, worldwide. This will cut down on a lot of the BS.
posted by CarolineK90 at 4:07 PM on August 23, 2021 [1 favorite]


The NPR article buries the lede: "By June, all restrictions, including indoor masking, were abolished." Less than a month after Israel lifted restrictions, cases had re-entered exponential growth. Delta didn't help, but the die was cast the moment those restrictions were lifted. Not being exposed in the first place is always best, and it was insanity to lift those restrictions before herd immunity was reached.
Unfortunately we see the same pattern repeating in country after country. Almost no country is doing the right thing and holding firm to restrictions and masking until after everyone who can feasibly be vaccinated is, including children, which will require waiting for vaccines to be approved for them. Almost every country has jumped the gun, and the whole world is paying for it.


What it really boils down to is that we can NEVER EVER EVER LET DOWN RESTRICTIONS. Seriously, we can't. At the very least everyone is going to need to wear masks around other people unendingly, no matter how much you hate them. If the numbers go down, you lift them, they immediately go up again. Every. Time. We need to be masking for years on end, possibly until we're dead at this rate.

Problem being is that nobody can stomach knowing they are going to have to wear masks and avoid others indefinitely, possibly for the rest of their lives, especially knowing that kids aren't permitted to get it and a bunch of future Darwin Awards refuse to get it, so we'll never have enough vaccinations to be able to let down the masks. Ever. And somehow governments/CDC/etc thought bribing people with the hope of getting rid of masks "forever" was going to do the trick.
posted by jenfullmoon at 4:07 PM on August 23, 2021 [8 favorites]


What it really boils down to is that we can NEVER EVER EVER LET DOWN RESTRICTIONS. Seriously, we can't. At the very least everyone is going to need to wear masks around other people unendingly, no matter how much you hate them. If the numbers go down, you lift them, they immediately go up again. Every. Time. We need to be masking for years on end, possibly until we're dead at this rate.

Problem being is that nobody can stomach knowing they are going to have to wear masks and avoid others indefinitely, possibly for the rest of their lives, especially knowing that kids aren't permitted to get it and a bunch of future Darwin Awards refuse to get it, so we'll never have enough vaccinations to be able to let down the masks. Ever. And somehow governments/CDC/etc thought bribing people with the hope of getting rid of masks "forever" was going to do the trick.


I had the thought the other day of "what has changed in your lifetime that marked before and after?" For me, it was knowing there was a time when you could see your loved ones off or meet them at the airport gate. Then, obviously 9/11 happened, and not anymore.

I think the COVID masking is another thing that is happening like that. Before: we didn't need masks. After: we always will. They aren't going anywhere. Soon it will be as normalized as the security theater that happened post 9/11. We will remember when we didn't need them, but we will always need them from now on.
posted by Kitteh at 4:13 PM on August 23, 2021 [11 favorites]


The call to live with public health restrictions, specifically for covid, for the rest of our lives, is astounding to me, and crosses the line into anti-vax territory.
posted by other barry at 4:38 PM on August 23, 2021 [52 favorites]


Most medical & epidemiological experts don't believe masks will be required forever, once enough people are vaccinated and we have decent surveillance testing protocols in place. There will be outbreaks, but they will be less likely and less frequent - and take fewer lives. Hundreds of thousands of people suffer from the flu in the U.S. each year
CDC estimates that influenza has resulted in between 9 million – 45 million illnesses, between 140,000 – 810,000 hospitalizations and between 12,000 – 61,000 deaths annually (my emphasis) since 2010.
yet we have never worn masks as a culture.

The precise numbers in this complex equation of vaccination, variant transmissibility, acceptable risk, etc. aren't yet calculable, but fear of permanent masking seems unnecessary.
posted by PhineasGage at 4:42 PM on August 23, 2021 [40 favorites]


“We need to be masking for years on end, possibly until we're dead...“

“...we will always need [masks] from now on.”


This seems overly negative to me. This isn’t humanity’s first pandemic, and we haven’t vaccinated our way out of the rest of them. Why expect Covid to be the everlasting one? And even if there is good reason to expect it to be the everlasting one, why bet against developing better and better treatments until it’s not so fearsome?
posted by daisyace at 4:49 PM on August 23, 2021 [45 favorites]


We developed vaccines to a novel disease within the space of a year that are saving hundreds of thousands of lives as we speak. That’s an unprecedented human achievement that is going unappreciated. Just 20 years ago, perhaps even 10, we wouldn’t have had the ability to track half or more of these “cases” because we didn’t have the testing technology or infrastructure. 30 years, we wouldn’t have had the technology to contemplate virtual work, virtual learning, and avoiding people all together.

I not normally an optimistic person, but I feel like Pollyanna in here.
posted by eagles123 at 4:51 PM on August 23, 2021 [98 favorites]


We're not in a world where people can all get vaccinated, because kids. cannot. get. vaccinated. yet. So before we try to sort out whether we're going to have to mask and distance forever, why don't we mask and distance until there is a kid vaccine approved and rolled out.

Then we can start to argue the rest.
posted by warriorqueen at 4:52 PM on August 23, 2021 [30 favorites]


Well, when I see the COVID surge in the South (where I'm from originally), I don't have much hope anti-vax folks can get their shit together. I want them to, but in this case, they are propelling us towards permanent changes.
posted by Kitteh at 4:56 PM on August 23, 2021 [1 favorite]


I don't think it means we need masks forever but that governments will need to use whatever tools they have at their disposal to ensure that herd immunity is reached.

That starts with making vaccines freely and easily available to whoever wants them. Once vaccines are widespread then it moves on to vaccine passports so that the unvaccinated aren't around to get infected and fill up hospitals and also to inconvenience enough of them so that they decide to get vaccinated. If the numbers still aren't there then they may be looking at mandatory vaccination of anyone without a medical exemption. The numbers of Jehova's Witnesses, Orthodox Jews, or other people with actual religious beliefs against the vaccine are likely small enough that they could get exempted as well but they'll need to run the numbers to make sure.

There will likely be court cases about these things but if the alternative is between mass deaths/shutting down society or forcing people to get vaccinated then a court system that doesn't decide that forcing people to get vaccinated is legal isn't fit for the purpose. At that point the risk of serious illness from Covid goes back to acceptable levels and life continues as usual without the need for masks.

Of course mask wearing and increased hand washing are actually pretty good habits to pick up so maybe going forward people will have masks around so that when they're feeling a bit under the weather but still have to go out of the house they'll be slightly less contagious and we'll continue to see reduced cold and flu cases.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 4:59 PM on August 23, 2021 [2 favorites]


We're not in a world where people can all get vaccinated, because kids. cannot. get. vaccinated. yet.

Also 3 billion other people who live in poorer countries where it will be years before they have access to the vaccines.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 5:01 PM on August 23, 2021 [38 favorites]


There will be outbreaks, but they will be less likely and less frequent - and take fewer lives. Hundreds of thousands of people suffer from the flu in the U.S. each year
CDC estimates that influenza has resulted in between 9 million – 45 million illnesses, between 140,000 – 810,000 hospitalizations and between 12,000 – 61,000 deaths annually (my emphasis) since 2010.
yet we have never worn masks as a culture.


This matches my take. As a society we know how many people we’re willing to lose each year. Bring Covid into bounds and we’ll all be comfortable going back to our slovenly ways.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 5:06 PM on August 23, 2021 [1 favorite]


Because the Delta variant of coronavirus spreads easier than the original virus, the proportion of the population that needs to be vaccinated to reach “herd immunity” protection could be upwards of 80% or more (the original coronavirus required an estimated 67% of the population to be vaccinated) [x]

In the US 22% of the population are under 18, and 6% are between 12 and 17.
So that means we need everyone over the age of 12 to be vaccinated.
posted by Lanark at 5:07 PM on August 23, 2021


The FDA will lower minimum vaccination age eventually. The only way out of this in the United States is mandatory vaccines in as many organizations as possible, schools, health care, government employees, etc. American have show n that they're too dumb and selfish to do the smart thing on their own.
posted by rdr at 5:12 PM on August 23, 2021 [11 favorites]


So that means we need everyone over the age of 12 to be vaccinated.

To be vaccinated or have had the disease. And many people under 12 have had COVID, unfortunately, and many more will have it this fall because of the broad return to in-person school.

The only way out of this in the United States is mandatory vaccines in as many organizations as possible

Indeed. We tried all the carrots (self-interest, social good, monetary incentives) and now there are only sticks.
posted by jedicus at 5:16 PM on August 23, 2021 [9 favorites]


The FDA will lower minimum vaccination age eventually.

Kid vaccine trials are already underway for kids as young as 6 months old. I know someone who tried to get their kid in a study near me. They e-mailed the day after registration opened and got an e-mail back saying they were already full. They'll have no trouble getting the sample sizes they need, at least.
posted by brook horse at 5:21 PM on August 23, 2021 [10 favorites]


Down south, it's going to be interesting to see the results of the attempts by New Zealand and the Australian states to eliminate Delta outbreaks by severe lockdown.

Score is currently Delta 1 (Sydney) Lockdowns 1 (Brisbane) with experiments still up in the air in Melbourne and Auckland, and, I have to say, it looks like Delta has the upper hand for those two cities right now.
posted by other barry at 5:26 PM on August 23, 2021 [1 favorite]


CarolineK90: ". all jobs should require all employees to get vaccinated, worldwide"

You do realize that most of the non-rich world doesn't have sufficient vaccines, right?
posted by signal at 5:33 PM on August 23, 2021 [1 favorite]


brook horse: " They'll have no trouble getting the sample sizes they need, at least."

They're starting trials on 5000 3-17 year olds with 2 doses of Sinovac in Chile.
posted by signal at 5:35 PM on August 23, 2021


The only way out of this in the United States is mandatory vaccines in as many organizations as possible

Indeed. We tried all the carrots (self-interest, social good, monetary incentives) and now there are only sticks.


Well, I am personally about to be witness to the stick approach: today my province, British Columbia, became the second province in Canada to announce an impending proof of vaccination requirement for people to access nonessential businesses/services. (Quebec was the first one.) BC will require proof of one dose by Sept. 13, and full vaccination plus seven days by Oct. 23.
In July, Quebec announced plans for a vaccine certificate starting Sept. 1 that would cover non-essential services excluding retail.

In B.C., people aged 12 and up will be required to show proof [of vaccination] to enter indoor ticketed sporting events, indoor and patio dining in restaurants, fitness centres, casinos and indoor events such as conferences and weddings.
The province will make an announcement regarding schools tomorrow, which I will be awaiting with bated breath because I teach in postsecondary where we don't even currently have a mask mandate, and individual colleges and universities aren't allowed to implement them without the go-ahead of the provincial government.

Currently BC's vaccination rates for those 12 and older are 83% single dose, 73% fully vaccinated. However, that's for the province as a whole; there are areas where vaccination rates are much lower than, say, the Lower Mainland (metro Vancouver) area--as in, a 30% difference. There are plenty of (pretty vocal) anti-vax and vaccine hesitant folks around. Just yesterday there were protests outside my local regional hospital by health care workers who are angry that the province has already implemented mandatory vaccination for health care workers and anyone who works in extended care (nursing homes).

It will be very interesting to see if this proof of vaccination requirement pushes up vaccination rates. I really hope it does.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 5:37 PM on August 23, 2021 [13 favorites]


I would like Ontario to do the same, but it's a Ford government.
posted by Kitteh at 5:43 PM on August 23, 2021 [3 favorites]


hurdy gurdy girl: " It will be very interesting to see if this proof of vaccination requirement pushes up vaccination rates. I really hope it does."

In Chile, we're at 80% full vaccination, after which you get a 'mobility pass' which lets you go anywhere without having to ask for a special permission (including quarantine areas) and supermarkets, restaurants, movie theaters, etc. are allowed to serve twice as many vaccinated people vs. not vaccinated, so many of them ask for your pass to be let in.
posted by signal at 5:45 PM on August 23, 2021 [13 favorites]


Meanwhile, in the US, we literally have to tell people who refuse to get vaccinated not to take horse medicine."You are not a horse. You are not a cow. Seriously, y'all. Stop it."
posted by Mchelly at 5:50 PM on August 23, 2021 [19 favorites]


It will be very interesting to see if this proof of vaccination requirement pushes up vaccination rates. I really hope it does.

Here in Australia, once you are vaccinated, a certificate is attached to your national health number. Vaccinating staff have been trained to show you how to easily access the certificate via the national health app. The government is getting us ready to show our vaccination status, our 'passport'. Sov citzs, anti-vaxxers, right-wing agitators, and some people who smoke too much pot are already complaining about loss of rights if they need to show a 'passport' to travel between our six states and two territories. But I am positive that once a compelling reason for interstate travel arises for these fearful or self-serving folk, they'll line up to get the jab.
posted by Thella at 5:57 PM on August 23, 2021 [8 favorites]


A new vaccine that is specific for the Delta strain has already been developed. I wonder how long before we get access to that.
posted by metonym at 6:24 PM on August 23, 2021 [7 favorites]


The real stick for vaccinations in the US appears to be the comparatively huge increase in hospitalizations and death among the unvaccinated, particularly in places without any mandates. You know what they say about horses and water...
posted by meowzilla at 6:41 PM on August 23, 2021 [2 favorites]


A new vaccine that is specific for the Delta strain has already been developed. I wonder how long before we get access to that.

Some interesting things in that article:
“With all the testing which is required, it takes us less than 100 days to really ship the vaccine. [...]" [*unfortunately, no mention of what the starting point for the 100 day count is]

BioNTech is testing versions of the vaccine for all of the variants, including alpha, beta, gamma, delta, epsilon, lamda, and theta. “We are continuously testing and evaluating that, and we have also a particular focus on the lambda variant, which emerged in South America,” says Şahin. “This is really an approach where we globally evaluate and assess what kind of variants are emerging, and we’re evaluating that early on.
On BioNTech's webpage there's a press release from July 8 that says
The first batch of the mRNA for the [delta-specific vaccine] trial has already been manufactured at BioNTech’s facility in Mainz, Germany. The Companies anticipate the clinical studies to begin in August, subject to regulatory approvals.
Interestingly, about vaccines in Africa, this PR from July 26 says
BioNTech’s Malaria project has two key objectives:

[...] The second objective is the development of sustainable vaccine production and supply solutions on the African continent. BioNTech is exploring possibilities to set up state-of-the-art mRNA manufacturing facilities, either with partners or on its own. The facilities are expected to manufacture various mRNA-based vaccines upon approval to ensure sustainable supply operations. BioNTech plans to co-locate its African manufacturing capabilities with the technology transfer hubs under development by the WHO, in alignment with the African manufacturing strategy created by the Africa CDC. This strategy aims to expand the capacity of low- and middle-income countries to manufacture contemporary vaccines end-to-end, and scale up production to increase global access.
So that's a start. Though it seems pretty optimistic to not focus on making covid vaccines too.
posted by trig at 7:37 PM on August 23, 2021 [10 favorites]


I don't know about all y'all but this Covid winter was the first winter in 12 years* that I didn't catch a horrible case of bronchitis, so I am all-in on masks in the winter just to, you know, NOT GET BRONCHITIS. Like, I'll see my family and close friends without masks when Covid is over, but I am TOTALLY masking up in public during flu season from now on. Masks are amazing!

*I got a really terrible case of bronchitis that turned into pneumonia during my first pregnancy, and every year since then, I've been stupid susceptible to bronchitis, and 30% of the time it turns into pneumonia, and it suuuuuuuucks.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 7:43 PM on August 23, 2021 [47 favorites]


I haven't had a cold since January 2019. People no longer shamble into the workplace dripping snot, and if they start to do that again, I'll have my trusty KN95s to encourage them to stay the fuck away from me. Masks rule.
posted by Don Pepino at 8:23 PM on August 23, 2021 [18 favorites]


I hope it’s not too late to make this point, but Long Covid is not an analogy for Shingles. Varicella Zoster Virus is a DNA virus that stays latent in cells for years (herpes is in this family, too). SARS-CoV-2 is an RNA virus and will be cleared from the body. Long Covid is due to the damage done during the infection. It’s not a re-emergence like Shingles is.
posted by Knowyournuts at 9:00 PM on August 23, 2021 [57 favorites]


The real stick for vaccinations in the US appears to be the comparatively huge increase in hospitalizations and death among the unvaccinated, particularly in places without any mandates.

The fact that the insurance industry is starting to dig in on paying Covid related expenses provides a nice double whammy there.

Before vaccination was possible it would have been a public relations nightmare for insurance companies to curtail Covid benefits. Now they have the entire vaccinated population cheering them on to screw over the incubators.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 9:25 PM on August 23, 2021 [7 favorites]


Always so bewildered by people singing the praises of their Flawless Mask Health. I got sick like 7 different times during the pandemic. I basically caught everything BUT covid, and also probably covid. I mean I'll fuckin wear em, it's the rule and I'm not a nightmare trash monster, but they ain't done SHIT for me personally.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 10:29 PM on August 23, 2021 [6 favorites]


and also I WOULD LIKE TO BREATHE AGAIN i am very tired of never breathing, I know we're not supposed to ever say that masks make it hard to breathe but they fucking do. Running in a mask (in the heat, in the snow, in the rain) is like having a glass of warm water thrown in your face every 4 seconds.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 10:32 PM on August 23, 2021 [23 favorites]


Thank you the people in this thread who are putting the article in perspective. Thank you to those who remember that there are countries outside of the United States where we've not had access to vaccines, and even now, have limited access. I can't tell you what it's like living through wave after wave, knowing that the vaccines we so desperately need are out of reach. And seeing American and UK people online argue about having to wear masks. Honestly.
posted by Zumbador at 10:40 PM on August 23, 2021 [41 favorites]


Always so bewildered by people singing the praises of their Flawless Mask Health.

Civilian masks don’t do a particularly good job of protecting you. They’re terrific at stopping you spreading a virus to other people though.

I attribute my good health over the last year and a half to isolation, other people wearing masks, and ritualized hand washing.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 10:47 PM on August 23, 2021 [4 favorites]


Problem being is that nobody can stomach knowing they are going to have to wear masks and avoid others indefinitely, possibly for the rest of their lives

i mean, masks are one thing, sure, but based on human history, expecting people to "avoid others indefinitely" for the rest of their lives would be unrealistic even for a virus far, far more deadly than this one. not to mention morally wrong, considering that most people need to be near other people for a whole host of reasons that, if not done, would result in more death and misery than covid ever could. but, even assuming for the sake of argument that the cost/benefit of avoiding other people forever checked out, it's also deeply unrealistic to expect people to comply with that, and therefore contrary to public policy.
posted by wibari at 10:56 PM on August 23, 2021 [21 favorites]


Civilian masks don’t do a particularly good job of protecting you. They’re terrific at stopping you spreading a virus to other people though.

So folks saying that they will continue to wear masks to keep themselves healthy should actually do... not-that, then?

I dunno, it just remains perplexing. Mask compliance where I live was very high, and I worked from home and lived from home and worked out at home and did all the things at home unless they were outside, but still got sick and sick and sick. It is, admittedly, hard to stay isolated when you share a building with a hundred other people, some of whose windows are mere inches from yours. Probably one reason these old tenements were epicenters of disease when they were first built, actually...
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 11:04 PM on August 23, 2021


So folks saying that they will continue to wear masks to keep themselves healthy should actually do... not-that, then?

Surgeons don't wear masks to avoid catching appendicitis. They wear it to avoid infecting their patient.
posted by pwnguin at 11:14 PM on August 23, 2021 [8 favorites]


So folks saying that they will continue to wear masks to keep themselves healthy should actually do... not-that, then?

Just because they’re not great doesn’t mean that they don’t work at all. Every little bit helps.

But yeah, in my case I definitely give the edge to isolation and washing my hands.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 11:46 PM on August 23, 2021 [4 favorites]


Long Covid is due to the damage done during the infection.

While it is true that this coronavirus does not stay latent in human cells, we really don't know enough about this particular virus to say that about long-term effects, categorically. Other dormant viruses (including those in the herpes family, which do stay latent) could be reactivated after infection with SARS-CoV-2, as a response to a weakened immune system, or associated with inflammation signals from stress caused by infection. There is some study into the relationship of Epstein-Barr herpesvirus and Long Covid, for instance. We really don't know much about this, yet.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 12:03 AM on August 24, 2021 [9 favorites]


I'm going to copy-paste what I wrote in another thread that got buried, since it's relevant to everything opening up and people going back to acting like Covid's over:

"Studies have been coming out showing that it causes brain damage in the infected, even for those who are asymptomatic. It may be permanently incapacitating those who are unlucky enough to be blighted with it. We are now discovering that it is a greater health danger for all ages. Who gives a shit about the high survival rate if it has a fair chance of shaving your intellect down, or crippling your organs? I have some second-degree acquaintances, all in their 20's or very early 30's, who are still bogged down, a year after their first infection.

This particularly worries me because all the vaccinated drones out there think that Covid is officially over, protection is unnecessary, and that they can go back to partying and toiling under unethical labour conditions without question. In the case of the latter, this is being heavily pushed by both big business and the government in my area. 'Covid's over peons, return to work as if nothing happened so that we can continue to collect revenue, for ever-diminishing wages in remuneration!' I'm disappointed that workers, white and blue collar, aren't using this moment as a staging ground for a general strike, to cripple the owning class. Everyone is eager to surrender to the 9-5 again and return to consuming [as if] without consequence. Particularly the latter, to my chagrin.

Already, a friend has gotten a breakthrough infection by going to multiple concerts unmasked. Raves are starting back up, our parks are full of 20-and-30-somethings who now feel invulnerable. I've skipped a couple invitations to parties, and several more to hang out in high density public settings out of paranoia. On social media, all my peers are posting nonsense about how the virus and its propagation are suddenly only the fault of the unvaccinated, while they themselves indiscriminately return to an orgiastic hedonism that promotes transmission. It's only a matter of time before we get a fourth wave that unravels most of the progress we've made.
"

The friend I mentioned in this prior post now has "long Covid", which is strongly associated with more severe brain damage in the studies. The vaccine stopped her from going to the hospital, but she will be forever altered in her memory and her senses. Her stamina has also been severely reduced. She felt that she had to go back to concerts unmasked and pretend things were back to normal. I half-resent her, to be honest. Our mutual friends' safety was needlessly put at risk when she attended a party of theirs right after she had begun going to concerts again. At the same time I'm very sad that someone close to me has been deeply harmed, in part due to improper direction by official government messaging. "Restart the economy and let people be comfortable again, risks be damned" is a fucked up notion.

As for the papers that show evidence of brain damage, here they are:

https://www.thelancet.com/journals/eclinm/article/PIIS2589-5370(21)00324-2/fulltext

https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2021.06.11.21258690v1.full.pdf

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2352289521000345?via%3Dihub
posted by constantinescharity at 1:03 AM on August 24, 2021 [17 favorites]


Thank you the people in this thread who are putting the article in perspective. Thank you to those who remember that there are countries outside of the United States where we've not had access to vaccines, and even now, have limited access. I can't tell you what it's like living through wave after wave, knowing that the vaccines we so desperately need are out of reach. And seeing American and UK people online argue about having to wear masks. Honestly.

If you look at the way the US has treated the rest of the world during Covid it borders on Captain Planet villain behaviour:
  • No serious attempt at infection control inside the country and very limited international travel controls means US travellers become vectors in countries that can't afford to shut them out
  • Refusing to pressure vaccine manufacturers to license vaccines or release IP (Biden's vaccine IP waiver is still going nowhere at the WTO)
  • Using the defense production act to prevent the export of a number of essential vaccine production materials
  • Refusing to export vaccines for 6 months
  • Initial round of exported vaccines come from a factory with such significant and repeated quality control problems that the the vaccines were considered dangerous and unusable domestically
  • Letting tens of millions of vaccines expire unused instead of shipping them to countries that desperately need them
  • Exposing the maximum possible number of vaccinated people to the maximum amount of Covid with zero NPIs with no consideration that this is the fastest way to generate vaccine resistant variants
When you add it all up it's not surprising that Covid has pushed a lot of countries closer to China's orbit.
posted by zymil at 2:30 AM on August 24, 2021 [21 favorites]


On social media, all my peers are posting nonsense about how the virus and its propagation are suddenly only the fault of the unvaccinated, while they themselves indiscriminately return to an orgiastic hedonism that promotes transmission.

Personally, my behavior is mostly unchanged since being vaccinated. I have eaten outdoors at a couple small restaurants about five times, but not really any other indulgences. At the same time, I feel like people doing some normal stuff after being vaccinated and told it is okay to do seems pretty reasonable. There are people that just generally want to go to a bar or whatever more than I do at this point in my life and I don’t think hat makes them bad or selfish if they are doing what is allowed and they have taken the responsibility of getting vaccinated.
posted by snofoam at 4:45 AM on August 24, 2021 [9 favorites]


My outlook is, if we can't do stuff like meet people outside in a non-crowded atmosphere, why did we even bother getting vaccinated?
posted by The Card Cheat at 5:07 AM on August 24, 2021 [7 favorites]


So we won't die or kill others. That's why we got vaccinated.
posted by tiny frying pan at 5:17 AM on August 24, 2021 [43 favorites]


My outlook is, if we can't do stuff like meet people outside in a non-crowded atmosphere, why did we even bother getting vaccinated?

Because it reduces your risk of infection. And if infected, it greatly reduces risk of hospitilization and death. And also reduces the amount of time you are contagious. All of which combined helps mitigate your own risk and the rate of spread in the community. More people vaccinated = less death, less hospitilization, less spread = faster we can get back to "normal".
posted by Roommate at 5:18 AM on August 24, 2021 [19 favorites]


I mean “alive, but maybe indefinitely denied human interaction and contact for the rest of my life” is better than “alive with possible brain damage from long covid but maybe indefinitely denied human interaction and contact for the rest of my lie,” but seriously y’all. Some of us are already struggling.
posted by thivaia at 5:45 AM on August 24, 2021 [10 favorites]


If you got vaccinated only for freedom of movement...good, you got vaccinated. But that was not the main reason you should have been motivated because it wasn't the point at all.
posted by tiny frying pan at 5:49 AM on August 24, 2021 [4 favorites]


Also 3 billion other people who live in poorer countries where it will be years before they have access to the vaccines.
I don’t want to dismiss this because it’s a real concern but that’s a pretty pessimistic phrasing when every country has reported vaccinations. There is quite deservedly a lot of attention going towards low-income countries but I think it’s important to phrase this in the context that we absolutely could get high vaccination numbers globally if we tried. Remember that we’re just starting to get high production of single-dose fridge-stable vaccines which are perfect for distribution in places with limited medical infrastructure.

The biggest concern I have are the way antivaxers are making global networks funded by American tech companies. Yesterday I saw an American antivaxer on Twitter helping recirculate a South African’s conspiracy theory that vaccinations are a white plot to make black Africans infertile. That worries me a lot more than supply chain logistics.
posted by adamsc at 6:18 AM on August 24, 2021 [7 favorites]


I understand all that, I really do. I'm double-vaxxed, in case I didn't make that clear. I'm strongly in favour of lockdowns, masking and all the other public health measures taken to mitigate the spread of Covid, and have done my best to adhere to all of them. But if the end result after a year and a half of doing all this is still "don't leave the house unless you'll starve to death otherwise" and "only speak to your loved ones through a computer screen," and people start talking about how this state of affairs *may never end*...I don't know. Is there a point to life beyond staying alive?
posted by The Card Cheat at 6:23 AM on August 24, 2021 [23 favorites]


Who is saying any of that about never leaving the house or seeing people? (You are, I suppose) I guess we are all having different experiences because I am seeing people and have to go to the office, masked, as well.
posted by tiny frying pan at 6:29 AM on August 24, 2021 [3 favorites]


Just because they’re not great doesn’t mean that they don’t work at all. Every little bit helps.

I'm starting to think playing a dice based rpg should be mandatory in school just like Phys Ed. Any d&der knows instinctively that a +1 on a d20 saving throw (less than the effect of wearing a mask for your own protection) is huge in the long run. Getting vaxed is like a +16. I know role players who would cut off a finger tip Yakuza style for that sort of boost.

The real stick for vaccinations in the US appears to be the comparatively huge increase in hospitalizations and death among the unvaccinated, particularly in places without any mandates.

You'd think but one just had to look at school shootings to see it won't be.
posted by Mitheral at 6:53 AM on August 24, 2021 [11 favorites]


Who is saying any of that about never leaving the house or seeing people?
On every covid thread there are several people willing to insist that we will have to endure social distancing and masks for the rest of our lives.

From this thread alone:
* What it really boils down to is that we can NEVER EVER EVER LET DOWN RESTRICTIONS
* I think the COVID masking is another thing that is happening like that. Before: we didn't need masks. After: we always will.


I guess we are all having different experiences

I mean, yes? Some people don't live where they can see their friends or family without taking risky mass transit; some people are in inhospitable weather conditions where outside gatherings aren't really possible; some peoples' hobbies consist entirely of "orgiastic hedonism" like...going to a concert (?!), and some people live in stable pleasant climates with a bunch of outdoorsy hobbies and have barely noticed anything is wrong. And that's just in the dreaded monster US, where we're all spoiled by global standards.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 6:53 AM on August 24, 2021 [17 favorites]


(The very word "Restrictions" means something different depending on where you are! Some folks are reading that from cities where the current restrictions mean they can't go more than 5K from their homes. Others where "restrictions" mean "wear a mask at the gym." It varies enormously!)
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 6:55 AM on August 24, 2021 [4 favorites]


There is a lot of dramatic, totalizing commentary in this thread, which may be an accurate reflection of the emotions many of us are feeling but isn't an accurate description of the state of the world right now.

Any definitive statements about "Long Covid" are speculation - time will pass and much more will be learned.

The list of examples of allegedly villainous American behavior mashes together governmental choices, individual behaviors, and decisions by a global bureaucracy (WTO). Oh, and claims that the U.S. has exercised "No serious attempt at infection control" are directly contradicted by laments and frustrations from many of the participants in this very thread.

MetaFilter has been an indispensable resource of collated information and expertise during a brutal, world-historic pandemic. Masks help, vaccines help, distancing helps. Every creditable expert says we have legitimate hope that things are getting better over time. Let's not compound the real suffering we are all facing by sharing inaccurate information or unjustified doomsaying.
posted by PhineasGage at 7:02 AM on August 24, 2021 [40 favorites]


There is a lot of dramatic, totalizing commentary in this thread, which may be an accurate reflection of the emotions many of us are feeling but isn't an accurate description of the state of the world right now.

There was that study a few months ago (from Pew maybe?) that pointed out that people on the right were minimizing and assessing the risks of the pandemic as much less serious than they are, while people on the left were doing the opposite and assessing the risks as greater than they are. I'm reminded of it whenever I read these catastrophizing kinds of comments here, or see the anti-vax, anti-mask protesters yelling at a school board meeting -- the science is definitely not supporting the extremes but that doesn't slow anyone down.
posted by Dip Flash at 7:58 AM on August 24, 2021 [19 favorites]


All I keep seeing is that any conversation mixed with some people being optimistic and some people being pessimistic doesn't do anything for either side.

I really hate how good thoughts have to be shit on right away and bad thoughts have to be smashed with positivity.

Vaccines are a miracle and I'm not thrilled that "is it even worth being alive though" is...a counter to that?

I don't even know what I'm saying. If you are suicidal, please reach out for help.
posted by tiny frying pan at 8:13 AM on August 24, 2021 [5 favorites]


>>Also 3 billion other people who live in poorer countries where it will be years
>>before they have access to the vaccines.
>I don’t want to dismiss this because it’s a real concern but that’s a pretty
>pessimistic phrasing when every country has reported vaccinations.


I live in a third world country and myself and other relatively wealthy people (about 10% of the country) arranged our vaccinations by having doses flown in, so I'm not sure that reported vaccinations is the same thing as affording a distribution infrastructure for the other 90%.

In particular only 10% of Africa has access to electricity so refrigeration is going to be a problem. That's 1.1 billion people right there.

>There is quite deservedly a lot of attention going towards low-income
>countries but I think it’s important to phrase this in the context that we
>absolutely could get high vaccination numbers globally if we tried.


I agree we could get vaccination numbers up significantly if we were willing to put the resources into it, but given that we've been letting 10% of the world population starve for a very long time I doubt our resolve. I would love to be surprised though.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 8:14 AM on August 24, 2021 [4 favorites]


But if the end result after a year and a half of doing all this is still "don't leave the house unless you'll starve to death otherwise" and "only speak to your loved ones through a computer screen," and people start talking about how this state of affairs *may never end*...I don't know. Is there a point to life beyond staying alive?

I'm a cancer patient, so I think about this question with some frequency, and what I would say is that what seems abnormal can become normal and even OK. Like, I don't like that I have to spend at least three hours every week at the cancer center with one week off a month. I don't like that there's no end game for that - if the chemo keeps working, this is my life from here on out. So barring a miracle cure, that's my best-case scenario. I don't like that I have to adjust to that, but I do. And it's super hard to watch people I know get out a little and see friends and even consider traveling, knowing that with my immunocompromised situation, that will be a long time and possibly never for me.

I think what I'm trying to say is that there can be a point to life even in tough situations putting up with things you would have never thought possible to endure - in situations much tougher than any I will ever have to deal with.
posted by FencingGal at 8:21 AM on August 24, 2021 [52 favorites]


On social media, all my peers are posting nonsense about how the virus and its propagation are suddenly only the fault of the unvaccinated, while they themselves indiscriminately return to an orgiastic hedonism that promotes transmission.

While I'm not sure about the cause of American sloppiness, I have to say my recent trip to the U.S. was a shocking experience starting from the Customs and Immigration hall in Houston and lasting through the moment I left the country. Masks and six feet distance are all that are being asked of you, folks.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 8:30 AM on August 24, 2021 [12 favorites]


Just want to leave this for anyone interested.
A plant-based diet can help prevent severe cases of COVID-19 and may reduce the risk of becoming infected altogether, according to two studies. (podcast episode. can also be watched on YouTube.)

I understand this is not the most popular topic on this forum but I do believe the more whole natural foods we can eat (and therefore less meat, dairy and processed foods), the better your Covid response and pretty much everything else, too.
posted by Glinn at 9:13 AM on August 24, 2021 [1 favorite]


Masks and six feet distance are all that are being asked of you, folks.

Not to say that we aren't all slovenly monsters, because we are. But these things are also being asked of us inconsistently, and they are often being asked of us in situations where they are borderline impossible because things are just not set up for it. (In particular, the distance.) At the start of the pandemic, many places put in distance indicators and barriers, but they have since removed them. Places that put up weather shelters to accommodate the inevitable lines-out-the-door and capacity restrictions have removed them. 6 feet is reinstated but capacity limits are not, so somehow 3x as many people need to try and keep 6 feet away in a confined space.

And there is a lot of skepticism about the 6 feet rule, because it was based on early precautions and so many of the other early precautions (washing your groceries down, microwaving your mail, wearing gloves and stripping down in your front door) have been shown to be unfounded.

If you are coming from a place with clear, well-communicated, consistent COVID rules you have no idea how exhaustingly incoherent it is here in the US.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 9:17 AM on August 24, 2021 [10 favorites]


(But no, I don't understand how apparently 95% of babies in the US were never made to "point to your nose!!" because 95% of US adults don't seem to fucking know what a nose is. That part is just absurd. But also I have now spent 16 months yelling at strangers to cover their goddamn schnoz and I AM TIRED, it is someone else's turn to yell and be called horrible names.)
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 9:21 AM on August 24, 2021 [7 favorites]


all my peers are posting nonsense about how the virus and its propagation are suddenly only the fault of the unvaccinated

You know, it still mostly is.

I don't understand how "this variant may be more transmissible by the vaccinated than other variants" becomes "vaccination shouldn't count!" and "some percentage of people are suffering long-term effects at least a year later" becomes "you need to behave as if COVID will destroy your life, even if vaccinated and otherwise healthy!"

Or, maybe, I understand it, but I don't get how this far along people aren't recognizing that this kind of broad-spectrum catastrophizing isn't useful--even in an indubitable crisis!--and coming to grips with it. Maybe for me it's just having the dubious blessing of already having an anxiety disorder and thus being well familiar with the problem?
posted by praemunire at 9:22 AM on August 24, 2021 [15 favorites]


If you are coming from a place with clear, well-communicated, consistent COVID rules you have no idea how exhaustingly incoherent it is here in the US.

Almost certainly true, but for the record the Houston Customs and Immigration hall is well marked.

And truth be told my perspective is almost certainly warped by 18 months of not slapping American and Canadian tourists standing in front of English language signs telling them exactly what is expected of them.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 9:23 AM on August 24, 2021 [3 favorites]


If you are coming from a place with clear, well-communicated, consistent COVID rules you have no idea how exhaustingly incoherent it is here in the US.

Having just gone through Canadian immigration, which crowd must have been in very substantial part Canadians, I can't say I was struck by attempts to maintain physical distancing. Also, while distance is not irrelevant, it's less helpful when it comes to aerosols.
posted by praemunire at 9:24 AM on August 24, 2021 [2 favorites]


We absolutely have to stop thinking of COVID as something we as indidvuals can protect ourselves from outside of the larger context.

The majority of the world is not fully vaccinated and COVAX is a failure. The entirely voluntary project has supplied less than 4% of the world's administered vaccines, as rich countries simply make bilateral deals, and pour money into the pockets of new pharma billionaires. Variants are arising primarily in large populations that are majority unvaccinated, where most people have no access to the vaccine.

To stop the mutation and spread of COVID, the absolute most important thing people in rich countries can do is fight like hell for pharma policy reform and pour huge quantities of cash into scaling up vaccine production and distribution worldwide. We need to use every tool we have to fight to broadly wave vaccine IP rights, force pharma companies to participate in vaccine technology transfer, and contribute whatever labor, tools, money, parts, etc are needed to get as many vaccines in as many arms around the world as we can.

Domestically we should be pouring money into county health departments, FQHCs, paying home health providers and community pharmacies and anything else we can think of to go door to door and to every public gathering providing free, immediately accessible vaccinations. The federal government has the ability to mail a mask to every single citizen along with a one pager in 5 languages telling folks why and how to get vaccinated.

I am as mad as everyone else about people in the grocery store who refuse to mask up. But I've been pretty damn careful since it became clear how to be and I know that cannot protect me fully from infection or death. I see vaccinated people back in our ICUs now. Each individual is nothing compared to the power our governments hold to set the standard for public health interventions.

This is a global, collective crisis that needs global, collective solutions.
posted by latkes at 9:29 AM on August 24, 2021 [28 favorites]


> Any definitive statements about "Long Covid" are speculation - time will pass and much more will be learned.

The thing about long COVID is that we are largely ignoring it. Sure, we don't have all the answers, but we know significant numbers of people are suffering from it, we know that other viruses cause similar post-infectious symptoms (even the original SARS) and we know that some people never recover from post-viral illness. But the risks of long COVID are absolutely not being factored into public health decisions and that's causing bad decisions to be made.

We have to operate with the best information we do have, even if it is incomplete. We don't have the luxury of sitting back to wait to learn more. People are getting infected every day and some of them will have serious long-term, even life-long, consequences.

Unfortunately, the medical establishment has an incredibly bad track record when it comes to post-infectious illness, which is why we don't know as much as we should now. No one is systematically tracking patients, so we're not doing much better now. If we continue to dismiss and minimize post-viral illness, more people will suffer. It's simple.
posted by ssg at 9:30 AM on August 24, 2021 [5 favorites]


Sorry, we are studying long covid (and lots more). Making conclusive statements ('will suffer with this for a lifetime!') about such a poorly understood, poorly defined phenomenon is not accurate nor helpful.
posted by PhineasGage at 9:48 AM on August 24, 2021 [13 favorites]


Maybe for me it's just having the dubious blessing of already having an anxiety disorder and thus being well familiar with the problem?

Yeah I frequently feel like I'm from a different planet with these things.

I had pneumonia 9 times as a kid and into my teens. I spent until I was almost 30 unable to run for a bus or get up a flight of stairs without feeling faint. So although I do not suffer from anything like long Covid I feel like I have a window into it. It was not great, let's put it that way.

I also lost my first child as a baby to a 1:10,000 medical event that she actually had a 1:100,000 chance of dying from because most L&D wards would easily intervene. The day I went it was a shitshow all the way through. So I also viscerally know what overcrowded hospitals, and rare medical events, are like.

The idea of one of my children, one of whom cannot be vaccinated yet, either having long Covid or dying in similar circumstances is enough to put me on my back.

AND YET I am also aware that the fate I wanted, and that I want for my children, is to live life. This does not mean being stupid in a pandemic. But it also doesn't mean living solely for zero risk. I have allowed my kids to go in cars, with carseats and seatbelts. To bike, with helmets. To rock climb. All of these things have made me sick, like throwing up sick. So Covid, overwhelming as it is, has been kind of a socially weird relief experience. Now other people get it. It's worse, it really is. Imagine if we hadn't done anything. And yet, the individual risk calculations tread the same ground I've been on since March 2004.

Any kind of worldwide return to what we flattered ourselves was normal will take time. Lots and lots of time. Way more time than any politician can seemingly think in. Hopefully not the 200 years it took with smallpox, the 70+ years we are aaaaalllmost at the end of with polio. (Next, other than Covid, see: malaria. Go mRNA.) It sucks that it takes this long and of course mutations change the game and of course doom can occur at any time.

But we have to understand that it is hard, it will take the long haul and the long work and the hard work.

Meantime, how do we live? Do we live as in April 2020? December 2019? My opinion is neither.

I agree our governments could do better. Regardless, from there what I can do is individual. I just cancelled a vacation. My husband and I believed it was reasonably low risk, but we also talked it over and we just couldn't live with the idea of our unvaxxed kid getting covid because we couldn't wait 6 more months for a vacation. I haven't gotten my hair cut or dyed, we haven't had any indoor gatherings outside our family for any social reason, no indoor dining, no events, no galleries. These are things that sometimes burn, especially the galleries, but we can cope.

BUT, my son and I work outside the home, with kids and adults alike both providing childcare and fitness. We mask, we distance, we are vaccinated, and it's a risk. For me it was important not to go off to a different job and leave the work I chose as being important in my community behind. The first week I worked 14 hour days and I was - am - so much better. I am a closet extrovert. I also need work that's pretty hands on.

My younger son has been home but his mental health is really getting bad. It's not a crisis yet but we need to find a way with him. We will be sending him to in-person school (we think.) These are probably capitalist-influenced choices but they are also ways for us to feel connected and care for others and learn and grow.
posted by warriorqueen at 10:15 AM on August 24, 2021 [28 favorites]


Quoting latkes' comment:
Domestically we should be pouring money into county health departments, FQHCs, paying home health providers and community pharmacies and anything else we can think of to go door to door and to every public gathering providing free, immediately accessible vaccinations. The federal government has the ability to mail a mask to every single citizen along with a one pager in 5 languages telling folks why and how to get vaccinated.
As evidence of how a robust community health ecosystem can function in structurally disadvantaged places, Imperial County in California has a super high vaccination rate.
posted by spamandkimchi at 10:20 AM on August 24, 2021 [13 favorites]


I agree we could get vaccination numbers up significantly if we were willing to put the resources into it, but given that we've been letting 10% of the world population starve for a very long time I doubt our resolve. I would love to be surprised though.
I agree that it’s not great, but I think there’s a tone common here like what we see in the climate change threads which makes it very easy to go from “it’s hard but we can do it” to “we’re doomed, why even try?” and since we’re less than a year into any vaccine options becoming available, less than that for the daily-distributed options, I think it’s easy to lose track of how early we still are in the process.
posted by adamsc at 10:22 AM on August 24, 2021 [7 favorites]


> Making conclusive statements ('will suffer with this for a lifetime!') about such a poorly understood, poorly defined phenomenon is not accurate nor helpful.

It is absolutely the case that people have suffered from post-viral illness from many other viruses for their entire lives. Suggesting that this is likely to be the case for long COVID as well is entirely reasonable, especially when there are numerous examples of people who have been sick for more than a year now. It does no one any good to bury our heads in the sand.
posted by ssg at 10:58 AM on August 24, 2021 [3 favorites]


Did you even look at those links to the many ongoing medical studies? No one here is burying their heads in the sand. What many here are pushing back against is the (all-too-human) tendency to assume the worst about a topic about which we are learning more every day. Speculative catastrophizing helps no one, especially not those suffering through a long aftermath of a COVID-19 infection, when actual scientific studies are currently in progress.
posted by PhineasGage at 11:10 AM on August 24, 2021 [15 favorites]


As evidence of how a robust community health ecosystem can function in structurally disadvantaged places, Imperial County in California has a super high vaccination rate.
posted by spamandkimchi 41 minutes ago [2 favorites +] [!]


This is cool. They sent nurses to the mall. They collaborated with farm worker contracting companies. They offer vaccines at the border for people who work in Imperial but live in Mexico. This is the approach we need: try everything, put vaccines everywhere.
posted by latkes at 11:27 AM on August 24, 2021 [18 favorites]


started writing a comment about this & it got very very long so I pastebinned it, tl;dr: a lot of people are making decisions based on not having to feel bad & it's not the best thing from a strict viral control standpoint but I totally get it
posted by taquito sunrise at 11:45 AM on August 24, 2021 [52 favorites]


taquito sunrise that is putting into words everything that runs through my head and churns in my gut every single morning. if y'all haven't clicked over to read it, please do. we're asking some people to be superhuman forever so that others don't have to be superhuman for even a second and both of these approaches are flawed because, to quote:

(it's me, i'm humans.)
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 12:03 PM on August 24, 2021 [14 favorites]


we're asking some people to be superhuman forever so that others don't have to be superhuman for even a second

It is very difficult to fight a pandemic, when the governor of global and US hotspot South Dakota vows to fight vaccination efforts.

There is no Constitutional right to endanger the public and spread disease. If we can't mandate vaccination and masks, maybe it is time to start quarantining Republican states and putting anti-mask/anti-vaxxers on federal no-fly lists.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 12:10 PM on August 24, 2021 [1 favorite]


There is no Constitutional right to endanger the public and spread disease. If we can't mandate vaccination and masks, maybe it is time to start quarantining Republican states and putting anti-mask/anti-vaxxers on federal no-fly lists.

Yep it's clear that we cannot just "good example" our way out of this, and "give up and cede the outside world to the virus and the careless" is also not actually a practical proposition, so count me in on team Go To Your Room And Stay There Until You're Ready to Behave Like a Member of This Family.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 12:17 PM on August 24, 2021 [9 favorites]


taquito sunrise, that long comment was perfect and consider it flagged as fantastic.
posted by thivaia at 12:26 PM on August 24, 2021 [10 favorites]


What it really boils down to is that we can NEVER EVER EVER LET DOWN RESTRICTIONS.

Not to pile onto this comment too hard but I don’t know why one would talk about this like it’s the first time a new disease has entered a population. I take the comment to be more about what ought to happen than what will but times like this it’s hard to see the point of oughts. At some point in the foreseeable future, practically everybody alive is going to have antibodies to some variant of the virus - the easy way or the hard way. You can add emphasis on “alive, ” too, if you want because of course a lot of the people who don’t end up with antibodies to the virus will end up dead. It will probably recur as an endemic disease forever, less severe on average but not harmless. Fortunately we live in an era in which major breakthroughs in rapid vaccine develop just occurred, so we will be better at chasing the latest strain than we traditionally have been with the flu.
posted by atoxyl at 1:31 PM on August 24, 2021 [6 favorites]


Regarding “long COVID” it occurred to me some time ago that my generation is really the last (in the U.S.) to have grown up around people who had been disabled by polio. Just one of those realizations that feels profound, you know? But then I never knew any of the million people who got encephalitis lethargica in the 20s.

The rest of this comment intentionally left blank.
posted by atoxyl at 1:42 PM on August 24, 2021 [10 favorites]


As evidence of how a robust community health ecosystem can function in structurally disadvantaged places, Imperial County in California has a super high vaccination rate.

I really wish someone would do a study of NYC's LES/Chinatown neighborhood (e.g., 10002), which, beneath a surface scum of young partiers, is mostly old, poor people, many of whom have limited English, the majority of whom are not white, and yet is now at an over 80% one-shot rate, significantly above even Manhattan generally. I suspect it involved effective mobilization of Asian immigrant social networks, but presumably many lessons could be generalized.
posted by praemunire at 1:53 PM on August 24, 2021 [3 favorites]


taquito sunrise, I for one would welcome if you wanted to share you whole-ass long comment in this thread, because it could not have been more beautifully encapsulated. I think you have some really astute observations there.

I try to be someone who consistently acts with care for society and the world. And yet, I personally cannot go back to the same level of isolation I had pre-vaccine. It has hurt me significantly, both physically and mentally. Instead, I'm constantly negotiating difficult, compromise-laden decisions, and feeling shitty about the whole damn thing no matter what decision I make. Sometimes it feels like there are these two extreme paths I can go down - doomscrolling-judging-carefulness or head-in-the-sand-reckless-carelessness, with no clear third option - and neither of those feel like particularly great places to be.
posted by mosst at 2:40 PM on August 24, 2021 [12 favorites]


I try to think every day about the Spanish flu. It was ruthless, it was swift, it took the young by millions. There were dips and spikes. There were quarantines and masks and anti-maskers and good old American pigheaded selfishness. In fact, it probably was American -- it certainly wasn't Spanish.

But it didn't come in waves forever. It settled down, it pulled its punches, it became "the flu," and life went on. Things are very, very different today. In some ways it's easier to fight -- we have vaccines and better supportive care -- and in others it's much harder, because we have a higher world population, we are highly mobile, and we have more vaccine resistance. But there is hope, some kind of hope, that COVID will not rule our lives forever.
posted by Countess Elena at 3:05 PM on August 24, 2021 [11 favorites]


Add me to the chorus saying taquito sunrise's Pastebin link is packed with insight. Everyone else who's trying to work a moral/ethical compass so deep in these weird-ass woods should just go read it, right now.
posted by armeowda at 3:07 PM on August 24, 2021 [2 favorites]


@mosst:
This is what I was getting at in my comment. I know people are hurting, however, at the same time people need to recognise that we are being sent back to work, encouraged to go back to partying and socializing as if nothing changed, because it serves the interest of the ultra-wealthy. It's not about conditions being suddenly safe enough. They want us to go back to consuming and toiling. Maintaining precautions when government messaging is inconsistent and dangerous, or has weirdly reversed is an integral resistance. It has been decided that people being mildly lobotomized by a novel disease is less of a concern than keeping the economic engine going for those that skim the majority of its proceeds from the top. Anyone who doesn't have a chauffeur has been deemed expendable.

The normal order of labour cannot be interrupted for too long, lest more people begin to ask not just "Why is the cost of living so high relative to my wages? Why am I working three of predecessors' jobs for the same pay as only one, or less if you account for inflation? What do my fellow employees make? Why are the demanded hours far in excess of what it says on my contract?" but also "How can I organize?". Or, as is more common, as people start to see through this shit they become angry, obstinate, and uninterested in going back to work. There was a thread a month or two ago on how such a phenomenon was playing out in the restaurant industry.

As I said, I think we had, and continue to have, prime conditions for a general strike. I don't think I've ever seen my friends so amenable to radical resentment of the wealthy (some of the same sort of people who used to tell me hating the rich was adjacent to racism), skeptical of the economic status quo, and more deeply disillusioned with the rat race and the stick/carrot system of hierarchy that exists within workplaces. Ditto for their sudden willingness to look critically at patterns of consumerism, info-hypersaturation, politics (aided by Trudeau's recent cynical moves, the clumsiness of Ford and Legault's handling of Covid). That's why I'm worried people are willing to throw everything away, including their own safety and the safety of others, just to return to the amenities of life as it was before the pandemic. I'm watching it happen before my eyes.

And I keep seeing people talk about Covid as if it's just another flu. It's not the flu. There's no natural rule or law which dictates that widespread infectious diseases cannot maim or cause serious consequences. For all that recover and are never hospitalized, many still get "Long Covid". It is not a minor risk, getting this disease.
posted by constantinescharity at 3:09 PM on August 24, 2021 [9 favorites]


people need to recognise that we are being sent back to work, encouraged to go back to partying and socializing as if nothing changed, because it serves the interest of the ultra-wealthy

I think this line of argument is way stronger for the “back to work” part than the “partying and socializing” part. Yeah, the latter also factors into “the economy” but come on, people also just... want to do that.

And I keep seeing people talk about Covid as if it's just another flu. It's not the flu. There's no natural rule or law which dictates that widespread infectious diseases cannot maim or cause serious consequences

I mean, this is also the history of “the flu.” Possibly even the future of the flu - the emergence of a new deadly strain in humans is one of the perennial pandemic concerns among the sadly small number of people tasked with monitoring such things. Maybe if governments had a deeper understanding of how to approach the risk calculus around “a new disease that will be around forever,” we wouldn’t be where we are with this. But we are.
posted by atoxyl at 3:32 PM on August 24, 2021 [11 favorites]


taquito sunrise's post might as well be a FPP with every comment consisting of it's me, i'm humans.
posted by joeyh at 3:52 PM on August 24, 2021 [8 favorites]


I really enjoyed the comment and identified with a lot of it, but also just for practical reasons, I think it would be good if taquito sunrise posted the comment here, since it is being discussed here.
posted by snofoam at 3:58 PM on August 24, 2021 [3 favorites]


I think this line of argument is way stronger for the “back to work” part than the “partying and socializing” part. Yeah, the latter also factors into “the economy” but come on, people also just... want to do that.

There's a reason the old saw about dancing and revolutions is an old saw, after all.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 4:02 PM on August 24, 2021


Add me to the voices saying taquito sunrise should post her comment in this thread, in its entirety. It’s well worth reading and really resonated with me, as I can see it has with many others.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 4:28 PM on August 24, 2021 [1 favorite]


(okay posting by request!)

Here's what the thing is for me, right, apologies for giant novel (but not enough apologies to not post giant novel):

When I started isolating last March the only calculation I was using like 99% of the time was "avoid risk of spread at all costs," because I figured, hey, if some of us who can take ourselves out of the equation as vectors do, the math works out better for everybody, right?

And I could, because I already had a remote job, so I super internalized that this was what I was doing for the communal pandemic-fighting effort: not going anywhere or seeing anyone in person who didn't already live in my house.

So I locked down hard, reduced my world to the house, the backyard, the group mailbox down the street which I got obsessive about being the one to check daily because that was suddenly the closest I got to a change of scenery most days. Had my 40th birthday party on Discord. Tried to get my day job done. Failed to keep the house clean. Bought a pair of noise-cancelling headphones because taquito boyfriend, who was suddenly home??? all the time??? decided to replay & 100% Breath of the Wild and,

look idk if you've ever tried to work while someone in your house is catching Koroks at irregular intervals but iyaa ha ha ha! *bonk*

Okay, in his defense, taquito boyfriend volunteered to suit up & handle the grocery shopping, which in our part of Arizona -- at that time we lived in a suburb which held weekly "Back the Blue" rallies & occasionally spawned the odd Trump merchandise pop-up shop, if that tells you anything about our part of Arizona -- always seemed to involve an encounter with someone or two not taking the pandemic seriously.

The apex of this was the cashier (at the Asian grocery store, usually the best-masked store, of all places!) who pulled down her mask to cough right at him, after which he & I both got sick for two weeks & did the "oh no is this the dumb thing that kills us" pandemic panic dance (tested negative, thankfully; regular flu or something I guess).

So going out shopping really stressed him out, so much so that he asked me to stop writing goofy food names like YOGOR or GURPZ on the grocery list & just write "yogurt" and "grapes" like a normal person, because he could only handle so much cognitive load when he was in the store getting glared at & breathed on.

Since I was already big deep in the "my role is to make sacrifices in this difficult time" mindset (self-aggrandizing, I know!) I took this a huge unnecessary step further & stopped asking for "frivolous" snack groceries like grapes or cheese popcorn. In the pre-pandemic times I would throw these in the cart on impulse; as it turns out this was an embarrassingly large source of independence & agency for me, picking out my own snack food like a big kid, & something atrophied pretty hard when I stopped doing it.

Eventually it got to be just too much, trying to figure out what foods existed in the grocery store that I could use to feed myself, and requesting them in advance, so I just kind of... stopped feeding myself and went hungry every day until taquito boyfriend made us both dinner, because it was just easier.

It's starting to come back post-vax but I'm still in the process of relearning how to feed myself. (I did get an air fryer & I can absolutely make what on the grocery list are called chickie chickie nug nugs, also FRONCH FRIZZ.) I've been grocery shopping a few times now but it's mentally hard to go; the idea of getting in the car by myself & driving somewhere still feels remotely unthinkable, like it should be a last resort.

As far as aftermath effects that are less easy to explain... I don't know if we fully understand the ramifications of not being around other humans on mental & physical health, but from this experience, I suspect it's a whole-ass thing.

My ADHD symptoms got a billion times worse. Energy level tanked. Got weirdly lumpy around the neck & jowls. Spent every day on the verge of a meltdown. This seemed to be the standard pandemic experience everyone I knew who was isolating (i.e. most people I knew) was having.

Quick privilege check before saying this next bit: I was about as lucky as it gets through all this. Only had one friend with a case severe enough to be hospitalized, & he pulled through after a near-death scare (not really recovered a year & a half later, but it's still very good that he's alive). My family are all lefty types who took the pandemic very seriously; no monkey sh*tfights or disowning relatives. Had a remote job when it all started & another remote job when that job laid me off. Genuinely got very lucky.

So I want to be really clear that I'm not whining on a personal level when I say that taking a pandemic seriously & isolating for over a year constitutes a massive quality of life downgrade. Both for everyone who actually does it, and everyone who imagines having to do it.

There are only two ways out of that: either the pandemic actually ends, or you just take the pandemic less seriously.

Which brings me to my possibly-unfair theory that a lot of the people who have been refusing to take it seriously simply gave up basically immediately because they couldn't f*cking hack it. To protect their egos, they needed to real hard believe the easy way out was actually the correct, smart-person choice and they weren't really risking lives, behaving antisocially, being a bad person.

So they borrowed one of the many sh*tty fake ideas conveniently floating around the internet & moved their whole brain into a reality where masks don't work or no one dies from it who wasn't already dying or it's only the flu, anything that means they get to maintain their pre-pandemic lifestyle without taking an ego hit.

Now that they're solidly invested in believing that, they (the deniers) are angry with us (the precaution-takers) for reasons similar to the reasons we're furious at them: they're trying to protect themselves against having to take the pandemic seriously, because they know that would hurt their quality of life the same way it hurt ours.

Meanwhile, we're trying to get our quality of life back except we can't unless everybody takes the pandemic seriously which they won't and we're f*cking pissed off because they've been going to the bar this whole time and we've been trapped in the house with our boyfriend's Korok collection, I'm so tired

Anyway... by the time I got vaxxed in April I'd spent the past year obsessively doom-reading all the sh*tty things the deniers had to say on the internet, along with the latest herd immunity percentage guesses & news about variants, & had stopped thinking of the vaccine as the thing that was gonna cure the pandemic & we all go back to normal. Like the writing was on the wall that we were not going to reach herd immunity & we were not going to dodge a really f*cky mutation & we were just gonna be in this for the foreseeable future.

So the new bargain I'd made with the vaccine in my head was that it was going to let me relax a little bit for a short time (few weeks? couple months?) until some variant strain started wrecking our sh*t & it was time to go very seriously back into isolation.

But I also made a deal with myself, which was that I wasn't going to go back into isolation & make the same decisions without factoring in my new experience of how bad it f*cks up humans (it's me, I'm humans) to go a long time without A) seeing other humans or B) leaving the house to do normalizing sh*t like idk walking around the office supply store, which in my old calculation I never did because it was never worth potentially infecting someone just to like, sit in a bunch of ergonomic chairs & eventually buy one.

And my guess is that probably a lot of vaccinated people who fell into the precaution-taker group are also mentally about right there: super reluctant to go back into maximum isolation mode.

Which means they have to replace the easy calculations of maximum isolation mode (I go nowhere! I see nobody!) with brand-new calculations based on their own understanding of sh*t we don't necessarily have good consensus understanding of yet.

Sh*t like how likely you are to spread the virus if you're vaccinated, how Delta changes the equation for everything we thought we sort of understood, how protected you are X months after your final vax shot before a booster, etc.

(This is without even mentioning how much empathy the precaution-takers have lost for the deniers after spending over a year feeling like the deniers, at the very least, do not care if they die, but that's also a factor.)

So everybody's out there drawing the lines differently (and with different amounts of rationalizing their own risky behavior because major pandemic fatigue, I'll totally cop to some of that myself) & it turns into a George Carlin situation where everyone taking more precautions than you is an idiot & everyone taking fewer precautions than you is a maniac.

Which is a super long-winded way of saying "yeah from a stop-the-spread standpoint we absolutely should be back to isolating as much as possible but I f*ckin' get why people are not."

Oh my God this is so long I'm so sorry
posted by taquito sunrise at 4:33 PM on August 24, 2021 [94 favorites]


I want you to know I put taquitos on the grocery order tonight because of this comment.
posted by Don Pepino at 4:36 PM on August 24, 2021 [16 favorites]


The list of examples of allegedly villainous American behavior mashes together governmental choices, individual behaviors, and decisions by a global bureaucracy (WTO). Oh, and claims that the U.S. has exercised "No serious attempt at infection control" are directly contradicted by laments and frustrations from many of the participants in this very thread.
Apologies, l wasn't super clear. Biden (like Trump before him) restrained trade by blocking the export of both critical materials required to produce vaccines and vaccines without even consulting the WTO.

That other vaccine producing countries have blocked passage of the vaccine IP waiver at the WTO is shameful, but Biden never needed WTO approval to pressure US based vaccine companies to lower their barriers to overseas production in the first place.

There have absolutely been effective local efforts at infection control in parts of the US, but the absence of any barriers to internal movement other than by Hawaii and some sovereign tribal governments means that it just doesn't matter from another country's border control perspective.

If you're a country that desperately needs tourist spending like Mexico, you can't let in people from low covid risk regions of the US without letting in US tourists generally.
posted by zymil at 4:55 PM on August 24, 2021 [2 favorites]


I want you to know I put taquitos on the grocery order tonight because of this comment.

You should have actually put TAQORTOZ.
posted by Superilla at 4:58 PM on August 24, 2021 [18 favorites]


My little household finds microcovid.org useful to split the difference between "personal lockdown" and "whatever we see other people doing". It is exactly like budgeting anything else in that we have to get used to keeping track and looking ahead.
posted by clew at 5:20 PM on August 24, 2021 [3 favorites]


Covid has made me think a lot about bullying. Bear with me.

Based on my years of reading Metafilter, a large percentage of you were bullied. Most of my bullying was mental, not physical, so I had it easier than a lot of you, but when I was bullied in the early 70s, there seemed to be a lot of interest in figuring out why they were bullying me, or what I was doing to "attract" the bullying. Much less interest in actually stopping the bullying. And most of the "reasons" why someone was bullying me were assumed to be psychological.

But even then, in my head, it seemed an obvious explanation was being ignored: some people are just shitty people who enjoy causing pain to others. There isn't a deeper explanation than that.

The whole experience of Covid in the U.S. has made me rethink these thoughts again. Yes, some vaccine hesitant people have good reasons for their hesitancy, but some are just shitty people. The same for the people fighting masks. And on and on.

I'm not sure there's a conclusion here or a "Here's what we should do!", but I've been thinking this for a few weeks, so I'm sharing it with all if you.
posted by wittgenstein at 6:01 PM on August 24, 2021 [15 favorites]


While I'm too young to remember polio as a significant threat, I certainly remember the early days of the AIDS crisis (and would recommend the documentary How to Survive a Plague - which I've recommended on this site a bunch of times already).

AIDS was initially an almost immediate death sentence. While that's no longer the case in the US (it horrifically still is in many places), it's still a serious, incurable illness. But I would guess that most of us who don't know someone affected don't give it a lot of thought - except in how to avoid it ourselves. We have a remarkable ability to put the suffering of others out of our minds.

I guess I'm trying to figure out whether living through the beginnings of AIDS - which was also a brand new illness that seemed to come out of nowhere - gives us any way to think about COVID going forward. I know it's hugely different in that it's easier to avoid AIDS since you can't get it from people breathing on you. But that's a situation in living memory where a new, deadly illness came into the world and we had to figure out how to live with it, including making permanent behavior changes (and fewer jokes about wearing condoms being like taking a shower with a raincoat on).
posted by FencingGal at 6:31 PM on August 24, 2021 [5 favorites]


And my guess is that probably a lot of vaccinated people who fell into the precaution-taker group are also mentally about right there: super reluctant to go back into maximum isolation mode.

It me! I don't want to go back to jail again for the rest of my life (as opposed to "until there's a vaccine" jail, which had the idea of an endpoint) because this shit is never going to end! And frankly even if I wanted to go full agoraphobe again, I'm being forced to go back to work so I can't. So now I am doing HIGHLY DANGEROUS SHIT (eating indoors, singing indoors, being in an indoor musical, karaoke both indoors and out, touching people, considering auditioning for a large stage show) that I should not be doing--albeit masked up, though the more singing is involved, the less intensive my masking can be--because I can't stand to go back to jail again. And someday probably soon I'll end up paying for my deliberate stupidity because I canNOT force myself to go back to that state of mind again! I know I should! But I can't!

there seemed to be a lot of interest in figuring out why they were bullying me, or what I was doing to "attract" the bullying. Much less interest in actually stopping the bullying. And most of the "reasons" why someone was bullying me were assumed to be psychological.
But even then, in my head, it seemed an obvious explanation was being ignored: some people are just shitty people who enjoy causing pain to others. There isn't a deeper explanation than that.


Well, of course. It's always the victim's fault for attracting a bully in the first place, it's never the bully's fault for wanting to take their own shit out on another person. You basically put out bait for bullies by existing as yourself, and that's your fault. Some people are just bully catnip, donchaknow. Also, that nobody EVER wants to, god forbid, separate the bully and the victim so that the bully can't keep on doing it any more, because that's too haaaaaaaaaard or something.
I think bullies just plain feel better about themselves--more powerful, superior--when they are abusing someone else. They are probably just so high on that level of power and control.
posted by jenfullmoon at 6:35 PM on August 24, 2021 [9 favorites]


But it didn't come in waves forever. It settled down, it pulled its punches, it became "the flu," and life went on. Things are very, very different today. In some ways it's easier to fight -- we have vaccines and better supportive care -- and in others it's much harder, because we have a higher world population, we are highly mobile, and we have more vaccine resistance. But there is hope, some kind of hope, that COVID will not rule our lives forever.

Just to add to this:

We also didn't have a way to test for the virus that caused the 1918 pandemic, so we could only diagnose cases by symptoms. As a result, we likely missed a lot of mild and/asymptomatic cases both during the pandemic waves and afterwards when H1N1 became endemic. Now, in contrast, we do a lot of mass testing both to prevent spread and as part of contact tracing, so COVID feels different because we can pretty much track cases in real time as they rise and fall (though we still miss around 2 to 4 for every one we catch). Still, during the 1918 pandemic, we really only had deaths and hospitals filling-up to track the progress of the disease through the population. Plus, the background level of deaths due to infectious disease was higher because no antibiotics and generally poorer medical care and sanitation. Last, our ability to social distance was much lower because we didn't have computers allowing us to conduct work and schooling remotely. As a result, the disease spread much faster.

I think, despite our present failures to adhere to social distancing and general resistance, we did have at least some success mitigating spread and therefore preventing health system collapse and buying time before vaccination, at least in the US and Europe. On the flipside, I think we're somewhat unprepared to contextualize the flood of data because we've never had the ability to track the emergence and spread of a disease in real time. We're also not used to death by infectious disease being a concern due to the aforementioned antibiotics, better sanitation, and better medical care.

When this is all over, I think we're going to compare the COVID pandemic to the 1890 "Russian Flu" because, to me, it looks likely the 19th century pandemic was indeed caused, at least in part, by another coronavirus emerging into the human population. The 1890 flu spread around the world fairly quickly in 1889 and 1890 and the reoccurred in waves until 1894 - 1895. What isn't clear to me is how it was perceived at the time. I read one historical account of the 1890 flu being most noted during its first wave but then passing fairly unremarked during subsequent waves. I'm not sure why that was. One possibility that occurs to me is that later waves, noticed only by increases in deaths, passed with relatively less notice because the later death and sickness occurred mostly in the elderly and frail, who were expected to pass in those times as a matter of course.

Interesting article comparing the 1890 pandemic to the SARS COV 2 pandemic
posted by eagles123 at 7:04 PM on August 24, 2021 [14 favorites]


Speaking as an old person, I’m so glad my age group is the most vulnerable instead of the young, as in 1918. I know my kids worry about us, but I would hate for that worry to be reversed. Not that I don’t still worry, but it would be so much worse.
posted by zenzenobia at 7:31 PM on August 24, 2021 [4 favorites]


I guess I'm trying to figure out whether living through the beginnings of AIDS - which was also a brand new illness that seemed to come out of nowhere - gives us any way to think about COVID going forward.

I was reading this article about Ruth Coker Burks and was struck by the descriptions of how AIDS patients were treated, which are how horrifyingly similar to how we are responding to COVID. The fear, the avoidance, the isolation, spraying every surface they touched, denying all physical contact, etc. etc. And like... there's good reasons we do all that, for COVID. But it being treated like that was clearly devastating for so many gay men, and today we recognize that it was a deeply cruel way to treat sick people.

I have no idea how to incorporate that into my understanding of COVID, or what we should do about it. I just know it makes my heart ache.
posted by brook horse at 7:51 PM on August 24, 2021 [7 favorites]


So the new bargain I'd made with the vaccine in my head was that it was going to let me relax a little bit for a short time (few weeks? couple months?) until some variant strain started wrecking our sh*t & it was time to go very seriously back into isolation.

I did the same. But although my first jab was in April, my second wasn't till July (standard UK spacing), and so by the time I was two weeks post-jab-2, I knew too much about the Delta variant to be able to relax. So I'm still in isolation, which I guess has probably been easier on me than coming out and going back in, but I wish I could see a path to ending it.

(Adding insult to injury, the date in question was 19th July, England's "Freedom Day", when the mandate for social distancing and masking in enclosed public places was dropped. Yay. Woo. Happy freedom day, virus. I am very glad to be vaccinated no matter what, but I didn't get to enjoy the feeling of security I'd been looking forward to all year for even one day.)
posted by ManyLeggedCreature at 12:55 AM on August 25, 2021 [3 favorites]


In re bullying: I remember being told to just ignore it. It took me a lot of years to figure out the unfairness of me being expected to have a lot of self-control, while the bullies were under no obligation to control themselves.
posted by Nancy Lebovitz at 1:19 AM on August 25, 2021 [13 favorites]


Greetings from Georgia, USA, where vaccination is still less than 50% and hospitalizations are approaching the January peak, only now with more kids because schools are also full, with few mask and no vaccination mandates. SEC football is about to start back, and UGA has announced that all 92,000 seats in Sanford Stadium will be full and there will be no mask or vaccination requirement. I'm delighted for those of you who live in places that are not currently hell and can make little balancing acts between safety and fun. Here, we have only hell.
posted by hydropsyche at 4:55 AM on August 25, 2021 [16 favorites]


Hey, GA! Greetings from FL, similarly poised at the top of the nightmare drop. Hang on to your hats and eyeglasses, folks, 'cause the SEC's the wildest ride in the wilderness.
posted by Don Pepino at 6:15 AM on August 25, 2021 [3 favorites]


Speaking as an old person, I’m so glad my age group is the most vulnerable instead of the young, as in 1918.

I'm also glad to be in the more vulnerable age group instead of the young. However, the initial focus on that has created some problems. One was that young people started taking this to mean that they didn't have to worry about COVID - so we've had young people not taking basic precautions, not getting vaccinated - and sometimes dying because of it.

And in the US anyway, this fed into our culture's huge problem with ageism - well, it doesn't matter that much because it's old people and they're close to death anyway (never mind that a 65-year-old might have thirty years left). The relentlessness of ageism is exhausting anyway, and having this on top of it has not been fun.
posted by FencingGal at 6:23 AM on August 25, 2021 [12 favorites]


Yes, I hate the ageism and the carelessness it brings. Like, I am still sorta-young enough to have fairly good odds on this pandemic situation (of course I got the vaccine the second I could, mask, etc) but my dad is old! My aunt and uncle are old! About 2/3 of my book group is old enough to be seriously at risk or even properly old and frail! My friends' parents, some of whom I actually know socially, are retirement aged or older! What if they died? That would be horrible!

I mean, I can see some self-absorbed twenty-something whose parents and grandparents are still alive simply not realizing how finite life is and how awful it is to lose older people in your life, but it's not just college-age people, it's everyone under about sixty.

I assume that some of it is fear of death in general leading to this attitude that aging isn't real and loss only happens to those other people off over there, but it's still upsetting.
posted by Frowner at 6:39 AM on August 25, 2021 [9 favorites]


Greetings from Georgia, USA, where vaccination is still less than 50% and hospitalizations are approaching the January peak, only now with more kids because schools are also full, with few mask and no vaccination mandates. SEC football is about to start back, and UGA has announced that all 92,000 seats in Sanford Stadium will be full and there will be no mask or vaccination requirement. I'm delighted for those of you who live in places that are not currently hell and can make little balancing acts between safety and fun. Here, we have only hell.

My staunch Republican BiL is a hardcore Clemson fan, with season tickets and he will not let a "fake pandemic" keep him from his football games. He won't get vaccinated and holds the permission in the family to let it happen. (My sister only got her first vaccine two weeks ago because my mom really had to leverage the "I am going to have major surgery soon and if you want to take care of me, I need to be safe" card. And it took a looong time to get her to agree that being vaccinated is the right thing to do in that case.)

I have two nieces. One of which is of age to be vaxxed, and another who is too young. He will take them to those Clemson games--it is a family affair to him and you don't get to opt out--and he will put them at risk. So when I get chastised for being pessimistic in these threads? It is because of shit like this.

I have to go back to the Southern US in October to take my turn to take care for my mom. I am absolutely terrified because South Carolina and so much of the South has said "fuck this" to caution, prevention, and sanity. I get daily dispatches from my mom about her concerns that no one is taking it seriously anymore.
posted by Kitteh at 6:54 AM on August 25, 2021 [16 favorites]


UGA has announced that all 92,000 seats in Sanford Stadium will be full and there will be no mask or vaccination requirement.

I'm actually shaken by this, although I have no right to be. I used to be able to see the stadium from my dorm window, and game days had kind of lodged in my psyche as a premier example of "too many people in one space." I cannot imagine what that's going to be like, adding covid to the crowds. But what gets me is, they're a school. They're supposed to be smarter than this.

But they're not, because every organization, every institution, fails when it comes to covid. I'm watching the South Carolina numbers brush up against where we were back during our biggest spike during Christmas...we're not far off, and school just started here. The past few days, cars have been coiled around a nearby drive-through testing center, filling the parking lot, filling the lawn around the parking lot, hundreds and hundreds of people trying to get the test.

I don't see how anyone has faith that this will end. At my job, I speak daily to hospitals, and when we talk about whether there are covid plans in place, nobody knows. They had a year to make plans for the worst, and they just...didn't. Like schools, like UGA, these organizations that should be run by thoughtful people who understand safety, just shrug. They haven't learned anything. The whole country is just trying to put its head down and bull its way through. Our national discourse is nothing but memes about antivaxxers and horse medicine. We can't even talk about what needs to be done, and so we're stuck. No wonder people lose hope, this is vast and it's structural and there is no escape.
posted by mittens at 7:12 AM on August 25, 2021 [7 favorites]


There's something essentially broken about countries like the U.S., Brazil, etc., where the (mostly Right wing) governments and politicians decided to politicize the pandemic, to make it about 'freedom' or (implicitly) 'manliness', where trying to avoid catching or spreading the virus is presented as weak, hysterical and submissive.

Something similar has already played out in relation to the Climate Crisis, with the long history of lies and gaslighting, by the Right and its Corporate co-conspirators, about the actual data and needed responses, and I fear that the criminally irresponsible way these groups have responded to Covid is a dress-rehearsal for how they'll answer near-future climate related disasters.
posted by signal at 7:32 AM on August 25, 2021 [5 favorites]


Delta Air Lines announced today that, due to the average hospital stay for COVID running up a bill of $40,000 USD (some sources say show Delta saying $50,000), they will covering their financial risk by starting a $200/month health insurance surcharge in November for all unvaccinated employees. AND starting the end of this month, "COVID pay protection" will generally only be provided to vaccinated people experiencing breakthrough infection.

Tweet from Brendan Keefe in Atlanta

CNN interview with Delta CEO Ed Bastian - "This is costing us financial resources"
posted by Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug at 7:55 AM on August 25, 2021 [8 favorites]


Wow, that is potentially huge news. I was talking about this idea with someone recently (different insurance rates for unvaccinated people) and thought it was unlikely. I don't really know anything about healthcare or insurance law, but I imagine this will face significant litigation.
posted by skewed at 8:00 AM on August 25, 2021 [2 favorites]


There's something essentially broken about countries like the U.S., Brazil, etc., where the (mostly Right wing) governments and politicians decided to politicize the pandemic, to make it about 'freedom' or (implicitly) 'manliness', where trying to avoid catching or spreading the virus is presented as weak, hysterical and submissive.

I think there has been a lot of lazy over-generalising as well, it seems convenient to collect Trump/Bolsonaro/Modi/Johnson into a set as some kind of global trend but really they're very different and their responses to Covid have been very different. In particular, the emotional attitude you're talking about is very much a Trump & Bolsonaro thing, Johnson was typically cavalier for the first few days but got very serious about it even before he got it himself. Modi's problem was not that he didn't take it seriously but about the casual and heartless way that migrant workers were treated during the lockdown. Later fuckups in the UK and India were about foolishly putting economic interests of certain sectors ahead of pandemic control (counterproductive in the end) and not about implicit manliness or culture war stuff.
posted by atrazine at 8:04 AM on August 25, 2021 [3 favorites]


My husband works in FDA compliance for a Large American Pharmaceutical Company, which just introduced a vaccine mandate. As in: get vaccinated or find another job (unless you can't do so medically or due to legitimate religious reasons). There was a series of question and answer video meetings about the new mandate, with the legal department saying, "Yep, we can legally do this and we are going to do it," at each one.

People are quitting. People are PISSED. Not everyone, obviously. But COME ON. You work for a pharmaceutical company. YOUR WORK MAKES MEDICINES AND BELIEVES IN SCIENCE. How is this vaccine mandate a surprise to any of you?

The higher-ups? They don't freaking care if you quit. Bye! They'll just hire people who are vaccinated. Easy-peasy!

Let's just keep racking up the numbers of businesses and schools that require the vaccine. The more, the better.
posted by cooker girl at 8:33 AM on August 25, 2021 [23 favorites]


I don't see how anyone has faith that this will end.
They all end--or the massive disruptions end, anyway. They reach a state of equilibrium like flu where they're not all anybody thinks or talks about.

At my job, I speak daily to hospitals, and when we talk about whether there are covid plans in place, nobody knows. They had a year to make plans for the worst, and they just...didn't.

It seems like it's been forever, but it's still really early. After maybe lambda or the one after that we should wise up--I mean, of course unless by then everybody has COVID-induced dementia. Seriously, eventually we will start behaving sensibly. Currently people are still approaching it in a ridiculously optimistic fashion than which they should know better--like the CDC saying, "throw your mask in the air like you just don't care" two seconds after the vaccine was available to everybody over 12. Idiotic, but presumably they're now getting the object lesson that that was not wise and presumably they will not repeat that particular dumbass move again. Expect more dumbass moves, but also expect that their frequency will diminish. We will get incrementally better as we learn.

Like schools, like UGA, these organizations that should be run by thoughtful people who understand safety, just shrug. They haven't learned anything.
Well, I can't speak for UGA, but the president of the University of Florida comes from Cornell, is not a moron, understands safety, learned plenty last year, but is mandated by Florida law to "just shrug." There are 12 universities in the state system that report to the governor and the board of ed, which the governor controls. The state is the employer, owns all the land and the buildings, etc. etc. The second somebody in any of the administrations in any of these schools tries to make and enforce a sensible policy, the governor fires that person and puts some Matt Gaetz-type slavering murderclown in their place. So they are currently in a stage where they're tiptoeing around gently probing around the edges of the problem to see what they can do. Proof: somebody in UF admin sent out an e-mail telling faculty to prepare to put the first three weeks of their classes online. An hour or two later, the president countermanded that order--because clearly he got a call from Tallahassee. So they're trying, in other words, even in the southern states run by murderclowns, sensible people are trying.

Meanwhile, Nikki Fried! Go, Nikkiiiiiii! And in Georgia, Stacey Abrams! Go Staceeeeey! Not everybody has to do what these monstrous assholes say, and it is very cheering to keep up with--and support--the opposition.

The whole country is just trying to put its head down and bull its way through.
Not the whole country. Most of the country is sensible. Really!

Our national discourse is nothing but memes about antivaxxers and horse medicine.
True, of course, but also our national discourse is always way dumb.

We can't even talk about what needs to be done, and so we're stuck. No wonder people lose hope, this is vast and it's structural and there is no escape.
Well, this is probably the case with climate change, but the virus is a way smaller, way more mutable problem. Please don't lose hope; I hate the idea of somebody named mittens ever losing hope. It's really not always going to be like this. The sensible people, who again are most of the people, can take steps to protect themselves (don't eat out or go to the movies while hospitals are slammed in your area; don't travel during big new-variant peaks if you can help it; wear a good mask when you go into public inside-spaces) and wait it out.
posted by Don Pepino at 10:13 AM on August 25, 2021 [9 favorites]


Well, I can't speak for UGA, but the president of the University of Florida comes from Cornell, is not a moron, understands safety, learned plenty last year, but is mandated by Florida law to "just shrug."

I really don't think the difference between "the UF president, who is an enthusiastic participant in all this nonsense" and "the UF president, who in some sense feels sad about all the things he's nevertheless doing but not sad enough to not do them" is remotely important.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 11:49 AM on August 25, 2021 [4 favorites]


I just discovered the Oakland (Bay Area) public library is offering widely-debunked Coronavirus misinformation peddler Joseph Mercola's new book via Overdrive. I love public libraries and their role in the free dissemination of ideas, but every library has the responsibility to select what books to offer their patrons, and this shouldn't be one of them.
posted by PhineasGage at 12:02 PM on August 25, 2021 [5 favorites]


the UF president, who in some sense feels sad about all the things he's nevertheless doing but not sad enough to not do them

Well, as Don Pepino just said, if the UF president does the right thing, state lawmakers can have him out on his ass. Either you end up with a revolving-door of people martyring themselves this way because it's the right thing to do, or eventually the decision-makers get one of their own into office.

That's higher ed in the red states for you. At Utah, we don't get to mandate vaccines, or ban guns on campus, unless our anti-intellectual elected officials say Simon Says. (Incidentally, our governor-appointed Board of Higher Education just named a new president for the University -- out of three finalists, only one was white, Mormon, or male. Guess who got picked.)
posted by armeowda at 2:03 PM on August 25, 2021


I don't really know anything about healthcare or insurance law, but I imagine this will face significant litigation.

When I was a smoker, the place I worked had a nicotine surcharge. I know of multiple other businesses do the same. If there is significant litigation, it will fail.
posted by a non mouse, a cow herd at 2:29 PM on August 25, 2021 [3 favorites]


Well, as Don Pepino just said, if the UF president does the right thing, state lawmakers can have him out on his ass. Either you end up with a revolving-door of people martyring themselves this way because it's the right thing to do, or eventually the decision-makers get one of their own into office.

OK, I spent all day preparing a letter working with my colleagues on a letter for our Faculty Senate and President on my (reddish state Midwest) university's dilly dallying over a vaccine mandate, so I am in A Mood on this topic.

I am so sick of the whole "well the administrators have to tip toe because if they don't someone worse will come in" justification for the unbelievable inaction right now from many university leaders. This increasingly feels like a very hollow excuse given that university presidents (who can largely isolate themselves in private offices) aren't facing the very serious virus transmission risks that faculty and staff in classrooms, libraries, dorms, and cafeterias are facing.

Large research university presidents routinely make anywhere from half a mill to several million dollars. Lots of other leaders are showing courage right now - Florida school superintendents are telling DeSantis to shove it and doing mask mandates. Hospital directors are putting in vaccine mandates. But what is it about university presidents that turns them into such cowards? Isn't part of the big salary they get to take the hits if they get bounced out? Lots of educators are either banding together to demand better policies or resigning because they won't put up with this nonsense. Why haven't university admins all gotten together to do the same thing?
posted by mostly vowels at 3:16 PM on August 25, 2021 [8 favorites]


Florida school superintendents are telling DeSantis to shove it and doing mask mandates. Hospital directors are putting in vaccine mandates.
The governor doesn't control the hospitals. And he doesn't have the control over primary school that he does over the universities. (Like, he can't fire superintendents, but he keeps saying he's going to quit paying them. Well, in fact he can't do that. He can unfund districts the exact amounts of their salaries, which makes him look like exactly the monster he is, and of course they will all say, "I willingly relinquish my salary for the good of the children of my county" and look like superheroes. The governor has made an absolute hash of this.)

It's not all the counties; it's been little by little, one or two at a time, now amounting to ten. And for the longest time it was just two. Two of 67 counties that were willing to defy him. So the counties are not banding together and presenting a united front by any means, which, you know, is sort of predictable given that rural counties are deep red trumpland.

It does seem like, though, with just 12 big higher ed schools, cooperating and backing each other up would be much easier than it has been for the counties. And it would be extremely difficult for the governor to quicklike install 12 new administrations if all of them stood up to him, not to mention the hit all the schools would take in ratings, which are their bread and butter and which the governor does care about, so...

...Why haven't university admins all gotten together to do the same thing?
Mmmmmmhm. Exactly. It's possible they're trying. I'm hoping they're talking amongst themselves.

In the faculty senate meeting, the pres is all, "For reasons I don't understand there is no national mandate and thus I am powerless." Okay. But what're you still doing here, then? What's your endgame? Just going to stand around in the mansion stroking your chin and gazing into the koi pond pondering your own powerlessness 'til half the student body's quarantining back home and the ICUs are packed with faculty and their children under 12? Care to speculate where we might end up in the ratings in that scenario? Because I do not think we will be anywhere near the top ten. Why not stand up, say nope, and if the governor replaces you, great: let the governor's crony take the fall. Maybe that's his worst-case-scenario plan but he's hoping against hope it will somehow not come to that because... something. I don't know. I don't know how these 7-habits people think.

In any case, I'm not trying to argue that these redstate university administrations are doing the right thing, just that they're not doing the wrong thing blithely. It's possible that when things begin to deteriorate their pain may grow greater than their fear and they may step up and act to stop the madness. School just started. It's still early.
posted by Don Pepino at 8:13 PM on August 25, 2021 [3 favorites]


To follow up on my own musings upthread if the new proof of vaccination requirement in British Columbia would push up vaccination rates…looks like the answer is yes. Vaccine registration and appointment bookings went up by over 200%, almost instantly:

From the CBC today, 3 days after the announcement:
The B.C. government says it's seeing a massive increase in interest in the COVID-19 vaccine since announcing a new program to require proof of vaccination for a wide range of social and recreational activities.

Since Monday, the number of people registering for the vaccination program or booking appointments each day has jumped by as much as 201 per cent compared to a week earlier, according to a statement from the province. The biggest jumps, the government says, have been in people under the age of 40.

Monday is the date when officials announced that proof of vaccination would be required to do things like eating at a restaurant, seeing a movie in the theatre or taking part in a fitness class.
The carrot approach didn’t work, but looks like the stick is working gangbusters.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 2:32 PM on August 26, 2021 [13 favorites]


And it would be extremely difficult for the governor to quicklike install 12 new administrations if all of them stood up to him

I wonder about that though. Both parties appear to have an ample supply of mid-retired folks to recruit from, in either business or government. The Missouri University System, for example, appears to recruit CEOs, and the UC system recruited Janet Napolitano out of the Obama cabinet. And of course, there's always 49 other states you can recruit away from.

12 might be a stretch unless the governor has a list of interested and qualified replacements in hand already, but I suspect 3 would be no trouble at all for any governor who's been a politician for a while.
posted by pwnguin at 10:04 AM on August 27, 2021


DeSantis just lost in court on the public school thing (yippee!). Here's hoping that'll help the universities find some courage.
posted by Don Pepino at 10:11 AM on August 27, 2021 [6 favorites]


"Monday is the date when officials announced that proof of vaccination would be required to do things like eating at a restaurant, seeing a movie in the theatre or taking part in a fitness class."

The carrot approach didn’t work, but looks like the stick is working gangbusters.


That's actually a carrot approach. Do the thing -> get reward.

A stick would be: Don't do the thing -> get a punishment.
posted by srboisvert at 6:03 PM on August 27, 2021 [1 favorite]


You’re right, srboisvert. I guess I was thinking of it like, the “reward” for getting vaccinated is you get to protect yourself and others from COVID, but I guess that wasn’t enough of a carrot for some people so now the “punishment” for not getting vaccinated is they don’t get to do the fun things they want.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 12:09 PM on August 28, 2021 [2 favorites]


This is not at all reassuring:
Israel said expected to soon offer COVID boosters to all eligible for vaccine
Health Ministry reportedly set to offer third dose to Israelis over the age of 12 from next week, could ease quarantine rules for those who receive booster
posted by Joe in Australia at 6:24 AM on August 29, 2021


an article in the Chronicle contrasting the public schools' response to COVID in the time of insane government and the University of Florida's response to same (no-paywall link: https://archive.is/K0vXB) and describing the uniquely complicated and fraught interactions b/w town and gown in our demented state at this demented time had this uniquely harrowing detail:

"The university, which has undertaken a major effort to boost inoculations in the area, has no reliable estimate of how many of its students are vaccinated. The unvaccinated include [and here they include the kid's actual full entire name, I could not believe it, but I'm not doxxing him even if he's fine doing it to himself], a junior, who on Monday morning sat down maskless at a table in the library and popped open his laptop. [name] did not frequent the library during the previous academic year, he said, because masks were required. With the mandate lifted, [name] plans to be here a lot more often.

'I think it’s weird to see people still wearing masks, honestly,' he said. 'Seeing people in the supermarket with a mask on is a little strange; it’s like another world.'

Most of [poor doomed child's] friends are also unvaccinated, and he doesn’t plan to get the shot anytime soon.

'I don’t know what’s in the vaccine,' said [Typhoid Larry], who works as a security guard at a midtown bar."

Emphasis added. I broke my mouse, I was so emphatic adding the emphasis. Because the midtown bars were overflowing into the midtown streets Friday night, as were the downtown bars into the downtown streets. Throngs upon throngs and not a mask to be seen among them.

(And why. Why. Is that kid fine with them using his actual name? It's the breezy obliviousness that terrifies me the very most of all.)
posted by Don Pepino at 12:44 PM on August 29, 2021 [9 favorites]


We're reading more stories of young people dying of covid. I suspect that is because more unvaccinated young people are being infected, not because Delta is more likely to kill young people. For someone that student's age with no risk factors covid does not present the same threat as it does to me, a fat old man. So dude figures that covid isn't a threat to him and he doesn't care about anyone else. What's worse, there are "leaders" telling him that his freedom is paramount. So why shouldn't he be oblivious?
posted by rdr at 3:48 PM on August 29, 2021 [1 favorite]


New research study indicates that adjusting for age and other salient factors, Delta is twice as likely to lead to hospitalization as earlier strains.
posted by PhineasGage at 4:23 PM on August 29, 2021 [4 favorites]


DeSantis just lost in court on the public school thing (yippee!).

Ruh roh:
Florida GOP governor ignores court order & defunds schools for requiring masks
I guess that is one way to shut down schools to keep students safe /hamburger

DeSantis is actually only defunding schools the equivalent of the board's salaries.
posted by Mitheral at 12:02 PM on August 31, 2021


For someone that student's age with no risk factors covid does not present the same threat as it does to me, a fat old man. So dude figures that covid isn't a threat to him and he doesn't care about anyone else. What's worse, there are "leaders" telling him that his freedom is paramount. So why shouldn't he be oblivious?
He shouldn't be oblivious because he is a student, so he should be studying the world around him. This poor simple child is hanging out in a bubble consisting of his jock classes and fun, chaotic nights at his packed midtown bar and his packed frat house or apartment. He is always surrounded by people just like himself. He only sees people wearing masks in "otherworldly" places like the grocery store, so he has no idea it's his behavior that is bizarre. He thinks his whole world agrees with him because he thinks his world is the part of the world he sees all the time. It is not. His world is the school, the town, the state, the country, the globe. His school is failing to teach him anything at all, probably, but most importantly, the critical thinking skills they yammer about constantly that would allow him to know that just outside the fragile walls of his social bubble is an enormous crowd of people who do not agree with him. When as is inevitable those people begin to suffer academically, professionally, socially, personally, life-blightingly, hideously, and endlessly because of his decisions and those of his bubble cohabitants, there will be that article in the Chronicle linking his name to his breezily aired plan to kill all his classmates' grandparents and sicken all his coaches' and TAs' kids.

I know we threw out in loco parentis long ago, but the school still has to act like a school. It has a responsibility to combat raging idiocy among its students. It has a responsibility, furthermore, to protect its students, its employees, and the people of the town, a responsibility it's still abdicating, and abdicating absolutely, protecting no one, endangering everyone. As long as the school continues to lie down for the governor, not one student or staff member or faculty member or administrator or townsperson on either "side" of this idiotic "debate" is safe.
posted by Don Pepino at 8:01 AM on September 1, 2021 [1 favorite]


Regarding schools, a new British study found that one in seven adolescents had symptoms months after infection.
posted by ssg at 9:00 AM on September 1, 2021 [2 favorites]


'I don’t know what’s in the vaccine,' said [Typhoid Larry]

Never thought LMGTFY would work for medical advice, but here we are
posted by Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug at 9:10 AM on September 1, 2021 [2 favorites]


This story from Atlanta Journal-Constitution writer Helena Oliviero is a terrifying account of a young, healthy person developing COVID (pre-vaccine availability) and ultimately requiring a double lung transplant. Excellent writing, and should scare the unvaccinated into action if they were the kind of people who read long-form journalism and responded to reason.
posted by hydropsyche at 10:00 AM on September 1, 2021 [3 favorites]


A trash study claims Ivermectin sterilizes the majority (85%) of men that take it.

However it is something that, now *sigh*, warrants further study as there is a long list of mammals/insects who experience negative reproductive issues when given Ivermectin. [Twitter]
posted by Mitheral at 6:59 AM on September 8, 2021 [2 favorites]


Interesting news regarding boosters this week mentioned on TWiV:

US panel backs COVID-19 boosters only for seniors, high-risk

The unexpected turn of events could reinforce criticism that the Biden administration got out ahead of the science in its push for boosters. President Joe Biden promised early on that his administration would “follow the science,” in the wake of disclosures of political meddling in the Trump administration’s coronavirus response.

The FDA panel’s overwhelming initial rejection came despite full-throated arguments about the need for boosters from both Pfizer and health officials from Israel, which began offering boosters to its citizens in July.

posted by polymodus at 1:38 PM on September 22, 2021


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