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Why we need to change our thinking about the pandemic: virus variants, vaccination, divisiveness

The following comments from Tia Will are in response to an editorial from David Greenwald, which you may wish to read first for context.

Reality Check – or why I strongly disagree with almost everything you said:

1. “Our biggest concern is that we are going to continue to see preventable cases, hospitalizations and, sadly, deaths among the unvaccinated,” Walensky said.  It shouldn’t be. Our biggest concern should be the possibility of more variants. How do you think the Delta variant arose? It came from our unwillingness to implement and maintain the preventive measures to control the novel virus in the first place. If you look at our county’s website graphics you will see that every time we masked, distanced , chose outside activities and avoided crowds, the virus came under control, every time we didn’t, it surged. Around a year ago I wrote here that my nightmare scenario was the emergence of a variant that was highly transmissible, had high lethality and attacked the young, and was vaccine resistant. Delta was just the virus’ first stab at that. Do we honestly think if we just let the virus spread, even amongst just the unvaccinated,  the nightmare scenario cannot occur?

2.”The good news is that if you are fully vaccinated, you are protected against severe Covid, ” Let’s look at this a little closer. The current vaccines confer a 95 percent chance that an individual who contracts the virus will not have severe COVID or die or a 5% chance you will. Viral Roulette anyone?  This focus on severe disease and death only was useful in the beginning when the biggest concern was to keep people out of the hospital in order to “flatten the curve”. This was a worthy goal when hospitals are overwhelmed but which allowed the “only the vulnerable” will be affected attitude to arise. This neglected other undesirable consequences both economic and medical – shutdowns, deaths of those under 50 ( often our first responders and medical personnel, careers and lives not taken, but ruined by long COVID, and, once again, the rise of variants.

3. “Otherwise, I am kind of done with this”. This is exactly the attitude that has brought us to this place? Some people were done with it the moment Trump started downplaying it. This should never be about our personal degree of boredom, or impatience, or frustration with the acts of others. I realize you were being “glib” but glibness, IMO, has no place in the time of a pandemic with many lives, disabilities, careers still at stake. 

4. “But at this point, I don’t know what else to say.”  I do.

a. Stop minimizing on the one hand or on the other, throwing up our hands, shrugging our shoulders in despair, and do what we should have done from day 1. a) choose outdoor activities, avoid crowds, mask, & distance; b) avoid areas where we know the virus to be surging; and c) vaccinate all who will accept it but accept that the vaccine is one only one protective measure, not the panacea so many feel it is. IMO this is largely the fault of the CDC whose guidance implied to many that the vaccine was the great liberator and once vaccinated you could resume your normal life. Did they seriously not consider the unvaccinated would do the same?

5. “At some point people, who make their bed, have to lie in it.” The problem with this attitude is that we are all in the same bed. We will all be subject to any variant that may arise while they are cavorting “under the covers” and we are pretending we are safe. 

My last and possibly most important point. We need to stop dividing the country into subsets. First it was it only affects the old or those with pre-existing conditions (as though they did not matter). Then it was let’s not address it since it seems to be affecting mostly the blue states. Let’s divide into those who are “afraid of the virus” and those who “refuse to live their lives in fear”. Now I hear on social media, let’s divide into those who are vaccinated (responsible) and those who are not and let the latter live with the consequences. As tempting as this approach might be, we are all going to live with the consequences. If that consequence is a new variant with the properties of extreme ease of transmission, an asymptomatic phase, high lethality, or increased long term effects which attacks the young (who are not immunized), and is vaccine resistant, we will all pay the price.

We as humans need to stop dividing ourselves in clans and fight this virus as one people. We had a leader who made that nearly impossible for the first year. That does not have to be our path forward. We could do what we should have done in the very beginning and treat the virus, not each other, as the enemy no matter where we fall on the political spectrum.

Comments

Donna Lemongello

Thank you Tia, I strongly agree with every point you have made, spot on. I was guilty for a little while of feeling protected by the vaccine and living in a place better than most, but with all the other factors you mention, it is not enough and I am going back to many more precautions day to day. It is not the variants we now have but the ones to surely arise since the virus will continue to infect people, vaccinated or not, that are the next wave and perhaps/likely even vaccine resistant.

Sharla Cheney

Unfortunately there are people in our community who will not willingly get vaccinated against Covid. David has young children who cannot get vaccinated, so I understand his anger about people who do have access, but refuse it, putting his children at risk. Last week, I have a friend whose 2-year old was exposed to Covid after her 3-year old playmate caught it from his vaccinated grandfather, who caught it from an anti-vaccer co-worker. Both extended families went into quarantine, despite all adults being vaccinated. I believe that vaccination mandates are going to be necessary. I am relieved that UCD is holding firm on its mandate. I have continued to wear a mask indoors when I’m away from home in public spaces and take other precautions. But I am more than annoyed that only 50% of those eligible in Yolo County are vaccinated. This is a real threat.

Roberta L. Millstein

I completely understand and share his anger. What I disagree with is his throwing his hands up in the air and making it sound like this this is just about people lying in the beds that they made for themselves. As Tia so eloquently shows, those individual decisions have an impact on all of us -- how many people will get sick (perhaps long term), how many will die, and how long will we have to live like this.

Ron O

Regardless of the points made in this article, Tia Will "belongs" on the Davisite (more than the Vanguard), in my opinion. I believe that she is a better-fit overall, on here.

Janet Krovoza

I see where David is coming from, especially in light of his commentary this morning. My main objection to David's original statement was the implication that the unvaccinated are only harming themselves. As Tia points out, "we will all pay the price" when people who can be vaccinated, refuse. It is increasingly urgent that our government -- be it state or federal -- take the Macron approach and insist on vaccinations for anyone wishing to participate in public life: go to work or school, eat in restaurants, take public transportation, go to movies or concerts or sporting events, or enter businesses. If someone chooses not to be vaccinated, they will have to deal with the consequences of a curtailed lifestyle. It's not fair to those who cannot be vaccinated, e.g., children, or who are vulnerable due to suppressed immune systems, for roughly half the population to simply prefer not to be immunized.

Rachel W

Thank you, thank you, thank you. My husband and I have been shaking our heads and spewing expletives trying to figure out why people are so quick to do away with the masks. It's not that hard, it really isn't...

Too many kids don't have and CAN'T have the vaccine yet!

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