The COVID Follies Play Again

I was hoping I would never have to write about the Wuhan flu, aka COVID-19, again. I overdosed on it in days of yore. During the Great Panic of 2020, I wrote about it many times for American Greatness (here, for example, and here, here, here, and here) and elsewhere (here, for example, and here, here, and here). I really have nothing much new to add. 

Now, as then, I have been astonished that a disease that poses a serious threat to a tiny sliver of the population—some of the elderly, and those with underlying (new vocabulary word!) “co-morbidities” like obesity—should have caused such widespread panic, not to mention such an acrid authoritarian response from so many governments. I was also astonished, and correspondingly disheartened, by the alacrity with which people the world over turned themselves into sheep, allowing their elected representatives (where such existed) to herd them like cattle: docile, bovine, will-less. But that’s how it was. 

Now of course, everything has changed. We have a smorgasbord of vaccines with (we are told) something like a 95 percent success rate. We have a wide range of effective therapeutics, including the once-scorned (because Trump-endorsed) ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine, not to mention monoclonal antibody treatment. Right around the corner, I am told, Pfizer and other members of the Big Pharma brotherhood will be offering a pill that (according to some) will cut hospitalizations and death from COVID by almost 90 percent. So the world is once again free, maskless, social. 

Just kidding. 

But why, you might ask, are we still masking up, locking down, and otherwise acting like savages who forgot yesterday’s human sacrifice and now are worried about what the angry, unpropitiated gods might do? 

I like to point out that the great, but under-remarked upon, thing about COVID is that it has all but abolished death from old age. Readers will remember that Florida motorcycle driver who was in a dreadful accident, poor thing, and was spread like raspberry jam across the highway. Nevertheless, assiduous EMTs, or maybe it was some junior assistant of Anthony Fauci, collected enough goo to perform the requisite test and, bingo, he, or it, “tested positive” and was put down at first as a death from COVID

Of course, “testing positive” for COVID is about as significant as “testing positive” from those other coronaviruses, those that cause the common cold. That is to say, it is utterly insignificant because the viruses are ubiquitous. About the only person I can think of who “tested positive” and died but was not accorded the honor of “dying from COVID” was St. George Floyd. My opinion is that Floyd died from a fentanyl overdose, but the jury said that Derek Chauvin was to blame and threw the proverbial book at him. 

In any event, in addition to being ubiquitous, viruses are also ever-shifting. The one thing that viruses are really good at is mutating. It’s what they do; it’s their nature. Back in early 2020, we were presumably dealing with the classic original Fauci-weaponized Chinese bat-virus. But new versions started appearing more quickly than the latest fashion accessory. At the moment, we’re told, 99 percent of the cases involve the scary sounding “delta variant.” 

But I surmise that the authorities decided that the populace was becoming complacent and insufficiently biddable, since just a few days ago the latest “out of Africa” miracle was announced: a newer, even scarier-sounding version dubbed the “omicron variant.” 

Unless you live in South Africa (and even if you do), there is no need to panic. Zero cases have been reported in the United States. Various companies are lining up with novel vaccines and new treatments. But if you are bored, then by all means, panic. The market did, falling by more than 900 points Friday. 

Of course, the market was long overdue for a correction, and Friday’s 2.3 percent retreat doesn’t even count as a correction. Still, it has some people spooked, and it will be interesting to see what next week brings. 

One thing it has already brought is an executive order by Kathy Hochul, the suffect governor of New York, who just forbade elective hospital surgeries in New York, just as bad boy Cuomo did when he was busy packing the nursing homes with COVID patients, and consequently then the morgues, with your grandparents. 

Are we really going to do this again? Somehow, I doubt it. But we’ll see. The hankering of the people in charge to interfere with your freedom is almost as reliable as the avidity with which many people are determined to relinquish their freedom in order to bathe in the warm bath of dependency. This is where we cue the quotation from H. L. Mencken about no one going broke by underestimating the intelligence of the American people. 

And it’s not just Americans, of course, as Austrians, Australians, Canadians, and others also show. 

But let’s go back to Juliet’s famous question: what’s in a name? Is it true that a rose by any other name would smell as sweet? How about a virus? A week or so back, we were faced with the “Mu” variant. Now, suddenly, we’re clobbered with the “omicron” nodule. If we’re traipsing through the Greek alphabet, what about “Ξ”?  According to the AP, the World Health Organization skipped N—“nu”—“for clarity”—so as not to confuse it with “new.”  It skipped  Ξ “to avoid causing offense generally.”

There’s the rub. For “Ξ” is transliterated “Xi,” and the World Health Organization, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Chinese Communist Party, is not about to start naming diseases after the Great Pooh Bear of Beijing, Xi Jinping. 

All of which is to say—and it displeases me to make the observation—that we are not yet done with the COVID follies, not by a long shot. 

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