Again and again, all over the world, we’ve seen public health officials all too willing to relax Covid restrictions too early, resulting in an eventual spike in infections and hospitalizations. As we’ll explain, regulators are repeating the same experiment and expecting different outcomes, The classic example was the May CDC “Mission Accomplished” policy change of telling the fully vaccinated they could go about unmasked, even as Delta had become the dominant strain, had viral loads 1000x that of the wild type, and not surprisingly also had a much higher unmitigated R0. Yet at the same time, the CDC also told state and local authorities to not report cases among the vaccinated ex hospitalizations. The CDC backpedaled on both policies thanks to the summer surge. But considerable damage was done thanks to many of the middle and upper middle class vaccinated still seeing non-mask wearing as a perverse declaration of virtue, that they are doing so to show they are shot up, disregarding the new CDC guidance for the vaccinated to mask up indoors.
Damien Contandriopoulo in The Year Public Health Lost Its Soul explained how we got here:
Most jurisdictions in Western countries adopted “balanced-containment” strategies regarding COVID. This approach is characterized by the ambition to balance, on the one hand, the number of coronavirus infections, hospitalizations and deaths and, on the other hand, the economic and social disruptions caused by strict infection control measures such as lockdowns…
… As I have noted several times before, what is happening right now is due to the fundamental political economic conflict that dealing with the pandemic requires setting extremely dangerous precedents threatening the foundations of the current order — paying people not to work and canceling debts, none of which can be allowed to even be contemplated. So mass death it is instead … [emphasis mine]
… More specifically, we know that relying on vaccines and not much else isn’t adequate to combat Covid. We and readers have cited the NIH article Increases in COVID-19 are unrelated to levels of vaccination across 68 countries and 2947 counties in the United States, specifically:
Key point: The sole reliance on vaccination as a primary strategy to mitigate COVID-19 and its adverse consequences needs to be re-examined, especially considering the Delta (B.1.617.2) variant and the likelihood of future variants. Other pharmacological and non-pharmacological interventions may need to be put in place alongside increasing vaccination rates. Such course correction, especially with regards to the policy narrative, becomes paramount with emerging scientific evidence on real world effectiveness of the vaccines.
… The US is opening up to countries in the midst of surges and/or rising case counts despite high vaccination rates like Singapore, the UK, Denmark and the Netherlands (although in the latter two, from a much lower level than their last peak). Peruvians can come to the US even as Lima is showing a rise in cases. Australia’s New South Wales (with the Sydney airport) is ending its quarantine requirement for fully vaccinated foreign entrants. Colonel Smithers reports that Mauritius will open to fully vaccinated travelers this month.
It would be better if I were wrong, but I don’t expect a happy ending. The only tiny silver lining might be it would be harder to scapegoat Bubba if as with the initial Covid spread, a new wave starts from cities with major international airports.
Great article analysis, and the source material is spot on.