Two news stories are illustrative of the current state of the COVID panic and public health. Biden got his third booster, but it appears he is nearly alone in this. Uptake for boosters is very low, with fewer than 10 percent of eligible people getting them.
The COVID vaccines’ lackluster benefits, significant apparent health risks, recent admissions that they do nothing to stop transmission, additive risk from boosters, combined with the general sense that COVID is not worth worrying about for most people have reduced COVID’s salience in the news and in our lives. With many people having already gotten and survived COVID with little difficulty, there is no longer the fear and uncertainty that prevailed in the earliest days of the pandemic.
The other important story is that New York municipal workers who were fired for not getting the COVID vaccine will be reinstated and given back pay. A white pill after two years of insanity, this small victory will do little to relieve the tens of thousands of airline employees, military personnel, and private sector workers who had to choose between their health and their livelihood. It is possible these people too will someday get relief, but the legal system moves very slowly and often inconsistently.
As things have returned to normal—even masks have become passé—it’s easy to forget the state of the nation only last summer. This was when jobs were threatened and lost over vaccine status, when blue state governors were threatening to return to lockdowns, and when parents were cajoled into giving children COVID vaccines, even though children faced minimal risk.
Similar to the recent Dark Biden speech about “MAGA Republicans,” last summer the Delaware Democrat called those who choose not to get vaccinated evil people, who were chiefly to blame for the continuation of COVID. He described the delta wave as a “pandemic of the unvaccinated,” even though there had already been millions of breakthrough infections by that time. Biden warned us imperiously, “We’ve been patient, but our patience is wearing thin. And your refusal has cost all of us.”
At the time, there were even voices calling for depriving the unvaccinated of all healthcare, a policy never imagined for other diseases tied to lifestyle risks, such as AIDS, lung cancer, or cirrhosis of the liver. Every unvaccinated case in the hospital was trotted out as a dire warning to the pig-headed vaccine skeptics. Simultaneously, so many of the vaccinated said, in Pavlovian fashion, that they got COVID, but it would be much worse without the vaccine. The narratives sounded like hostage videos.
COVID was and remains chiefly a risk to the old and the infirm. Vaccines, on the other hand, seem to have particularly high rates of side effects among the young and the healthy.
As of late, there have been many mysterious cases of relatively healthy and fairly young people dropping dead of sudden cardiac arrest, a known side effect of myocarditis, which is itself a known side effect of the vaccines. While the data is hard for a layperson to analyze, there is apparently an across-the-board increase in mortality over the last year, which is presumably attributable to some unknown and widespread cause—whether it is long COVID, the vaccine, or something else will take careful epidemiological study.
It is easy to suppress the memory and the images of the last two years. We should make efforts not to allow any of it to go down the memoryhole. What happened in our country and around the world was damaging and horrendous. Lockdowns, social distancing, mask mandates, experimental vaccine mandates, persistent fearmongering, school closures, prohibitions on wedding and funerals, isolating old people from loved ones and one another, massive economic and psychological harm, and a generally heavy-handed, know-it-all approach by the managerial class have collectively imposed real trauma on the country.
We have the receipts. We should not let the perpetrators off easily.
Some overreaction may have been justified in the beginning, as the scale of the threat was unknown. While there was little data to support social distancing, masks, or many of the early “brute force” interventions, this appeared to be a Spanish Flu level event, ten times or more lethal than the ordinary flu. Some leeway is appropriate in such instances, but it soon became apparent that all of those assumptions were false.
Data on interventions like masking and lockdowns found no support. But these policies did ruin our lives. Some countries and American states scaled back the early interventions, including Florida, and sustained a great deal of criticism for doing so. Others persisted to the bitter end, and these same dead-enders are now pushing perpetual vaccine boosters.
Let Biden and the other hypochondriacs get their boosters. It’s a free country. But the American people should never ever accept the kind of draconian public health measures that proved either useless or deadly during the earlier days of the pandemic.