Tourists with bus tour tickets stand in line in New York City on July 7, 2022. Credit – Robert Nickelsberg – Getty Images
At the supermarket, at work, in schools, in restaurants, at sporting events and at airports, we are witnessing an incredible change. Masks are rare. People are hugging, gathering and traveling. The latest Google COVID Community Mobility Report shows that most forms of activity have returned to near-normal levels compared to pre-pandemic baselines. But some people are confused and conflicted by misunderstanding. The mainstream media and many “experts” continue to warn us not to be influenced. Are we really in a dangerous pandemic phase? Are thrones being irresponsible? Or are we witnessing a cumulative, rational recovery of risk tolerance based on better information, options and experience?
Current data is not controversial. But the interpretation, the consequences and what to do about it.
It is clear that the latest Omicron sub-variants are widely distributed around the world. These are the most contagious viruses on the planet. Vaccines remain highly effective at preventing serious disease, but less effective at stopping infection and transmission. The virus is highly capable of bypassing the immune defenses of those who have been previously infected or vaccinated, or both. In fact, it is almost impossible to prevent or contain infections and re-infections. We all know many public figures, relatives, neighbors and friends, including ourselves, who have recently recovered from COVID-19. It may remain the same. Given the specificity of SARS-COV-2, the name of the virus that causes the disease, it is unlikely that future variants or new vaccines will change the course of future waves of infection and reinfection.
And there are a lot of them. We are currently experiencing more than 100,000 infections per day. But because most home testing goes unreported, the current U.S. detection rate is about 14 percent. That means more than three-quarters of a million Americans are newly infected every day. That’s 1.5 percent of the total US population every week.
However, for a slight increase, the rate of death and hospitalization due to infection is close to the lowest relative level of the pandemic, due to the mildness of the sub-variants and the increase in immunity of the population. A UK study found that severe outcomes from Omicron were far less likely than the previous Delta strain, whether people had been vaccinated or not. Death rates by age group still show the same sharp increase in the elderly and other vulnerable populations seen since the start of the pandemic.
We must face the stark reality that a significant minority of Americans will choose not to vaccinate. Despite many efforts to convince them otherwise, about 20 percent of American adults currently do not want to be vaccinated, and another five percent are undecided. 31 percent of children aged 12-17 and 64 percent of children aged 5-11 have not been vaccinated. However, the analysis of antibodies shows that Omicron will appear at the beginning of February this year, up to 70 and 80 percent. everything Children over one year old are infected. With the more infectious sub-variants present, almost all children are likely to have been infected at least once.
The ultimate defense against the serious consequences of any airborne virus is strong population immunity. The level of protection of a population at any given time is a function of many variables related to vaccine coverage, efficacy, and duration. Similar parameters apply to immunity induced by natural infection. For people with symptoms and at high risk, oral antiviral drugs such as Paxlovid can ease illness, significantly reduce hospitalizations, and death, whether immunized or not.
In this landscape, most of the community chooses to return to normalcy and accept the risk of infection and contagion. Is he good? Or is it bad?
This is natural. What we are witnessing is the inevitable phase of social psychosocial adaptation to living with the virus—an evolutionary arc from fear to normalcy. We cannot sum up our lives without completing this progress. This is a natural human and societal adaptation based on increased knowledge, experience and evolution of the virus. At the time, as the number of cases and hospitalizations in New York City soared, Mayor Eric Adams was criticized for suspending a color-coded alert system for the virus this summer. However, changing the alarm settings does not wake up the system.
The public is becoming “immune” to the daily barrage of uncertainties and warnings from “experts” and the media. Basically it reflects the wisdom and common sense and risk appetite of the people rather than blindly ignoring developing science and facts. This includes a comprehensive review of individual risk calculations.
In fact, the current high level of population immunity is maintained, greatly mitigating the effects of current and possible future options. This occurs both actively – through continued vaccination and boosters – and passively, through continuous cycles of mostly asymptomatic or mild but rarely severe infections.
With access to vaccines and antiviral drugs, most people with COVID-19 are now less likely to die than the flu. This is good news.
it’s a do not news for the elderly, immunocompromised or those with specific co-morbidities. Vulnerable individuals have a more serious risk profile that requires more vigilant protection strategies. They must be protected.
But current science supports a more liberal policy and risk-tolerant environment without most mandates and shame. We can expect to see less and less testing, quarantine, and isolation as individuals and institutions find that in many situations, the ongoing downsides of case detection far outweigh the benefits of containment measures. This is especially true when significant community transmission is inevitable and most infections are asymptomatic or mild. This was the basis for the recent CDC order, which eliminated the testing requirement for international air travelers entering the United States.
Information, social trends and cultural norms are undermining the opinion of pundits and the media vanguard. This does not imply either pandemic fatigue or willful denial of the facts. This is a natural, chaotic transition phase, supported by increasing knowledge, experience and better tools. We’ve been longing for the light at the end of the tunnel since early 2020. If we look closely, we can see it now.