Friday, February 4, 2022

WSJ's Henninger: "Biden Needs To End Covid Panic" - Yeah, When The Math Parameters For A Pandemic's End Are Met!


                           "I just wanna be done with this virus, masks and vaccines!"

The  idea that Americans as a whole are struggling mentally and emotionally amidst the ongoing pandemic has now been verified. A study of five Western countries, including the United States, published in January found that 13 percent of people reported symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder attributable to actual or potential contact with the coronavirus, stay-at-home orders, the inability to return to a country of residence or other coronavirus-related factors. 

The researchers also found that anticipating a negative pandemic-related event was even more emotionally painful than experiencing one.  And yet up to a third of the country still refuses to enable a genuine path out of the Covid nightmare by the simplest step: getting the vaccine and boosted! I also already pointed out there are currently 28 million school children- age 5- 11-  who remain unvaccinated. Far less than health experts feared originally, with only 18.8 % full vaccinated. (Denver Post Jan. 30, p. 1A)  As one expert quoted (Jennifer Kates) put it:

 "It's going to be a long slog to get the kids vaccinated."  

But that delay means more and more teachers will bail out, either retiring early or quitting to secure jobs in the private sector, not wishing to become infected and ending up in body bags in a hospital morgue.

Chris Hayes on ALL In also pointed out the U.S. and Russia have the lwest vaccination rates among major nations. See e.g.

US, Russia have lowest vaccination rates, highest vaccine skepticism among several major nations: poll | TheHill

As well as the highest skepticism rates, what one specialist has correctly referred to as a mind virus. Into this morass we have WSJ op-ed hack Dan Henninger  ('End The Covid Panic Now', p. A15 yesterday) blowing more smoke up Anti-vaxxers asses to make them believe it's not their fault for remaining deaf, dumb, blind and stupid to what could finally release millions from the pandemic's grip.  Henninger actually wrote:

"Those deaths are a tragedy, and the pressure on the hospital system and its employees is real. But neither is sufficient reason to grind on with the Covid status quo. The share of the population who are not vaccinated is a sociological issue that won’t be resolved with a forced march into a third year of pandemic panic."

I mean a "sociological issue"?   Maybe, but I register it more as a gullibility issue, of way too many gulping down vaccine and virus bullshit from knotheads like Joe Rogan, Bill Maher and Tucker Carlson.  Then using it - along with a faux interpretation of freedom-   to justify vaccine refusal. And hence keeping us all in a state of Covid response protocols, hospital triage and masking. And to an extent, panic.  This also perfectly reflects what author Laurie Garret ('The Coming Plague') noted, i.e. of how dumb humans often are the best allies of viral spread- any virus, whether AIDS, Covid, Chickenpox, Measles or flu.   We are often our own worst enemies because we lack the intellect, insight or critical thinking to defeat these microbial predators. 

Eliciting the question of why so many  Americans now can't get their acts together and work for the common good to get us out of this ongoing Covid quagmire.  Why were we able as a nation to come together during World War II, to defeat the Axis enemy, but can't now?  Well, because back then there were only a few information sources, mainly radio (no TV yet in the early 1940s) and certainly no social media to spread lies and misinformation.  We thought pretty well as one united nation and acted the part as well as sacrificed (accepting severe gas and meat rationing without bitching.)   Henninger in his piece declares with an air of finality:

"It is manifestly clear that the panic phase of the Covid-19 pandemic has to end. The costs are too high. I don’t mean end as a state of mind. The pandemic has to end officially, as a matter of stated public policy by the U.S. government. President Biden needs to declare publicly that the pandemic phase of Covid is over so people can resume living in a reality not dominated by masks, tests or vaccines."

But is he aware that the end of a pandemic, a specific epidemiological phenomenon, cannot just be ended by political fiat?  Or declaration, or law?  No, it ends when all the relevant stats quantitatively show it is over, e.g.  

 “The Math That Explains the End of the Pandemic”

So what Henninger is doing is putting the 'cart before the horse'.  In effect, if Henny wants a reality not dominated by masks, tests or vaccines then we need to see exponential decay of Covid infections, which we are nowhere close to seeing yet. Why not? Because we have a core of dummies and brainwashed fools mainly refusing to accept the basic science that vaccination is the way out. So long as this lot of about one -third of 'Muricans refuse, then the infections (and mutations, variants) remain and we will have to live with lockdowns, masks, and other protocols.   As the author of the linked piece above writes:

"Every case of Covid-19 that is prevented cuts off transmission chains, which prevents many more cases down the line."

That prevention of transmission chains means we need more people vaccinated, many more. What we cannot do is just say "It's over!" and allow all our hospitals to be overrun and desperate patients or victims of car accidents and gunshots  having to travel to distant ERs to get help - and possibly die.  

In his book 'The Mathematics of Life & Death' author Kit Yates offers a simple mathematical marker to give an idea of how fast a population can expect to get past a pandemic.  He gives it as the (fraction) proportion of those who need to be vaccinated, based on the R -nought value  ( R0 ) which indicates how rapidly a virus reproduces when it spreads to new people. Specifically we have:

V  (needed)  =   1 -   (1/R)

The most recent CDC estimated value for the Omicron variant of Covid is  R0  = 10,  so in this case we have:

1 -   (1/R) =  1 -   (1/ 10) =   0.90

Or, 90 percent fully vaccinated

From this one can see we in the U.S. are nowhere near 'out of the woods'.  The (ABC) News reports last night that infections have "fallen 48 percent" in the U.S. are encouraging but not an exponential decline.  That will not happen until we at least approach the vaccination level computed above. As our state's top epidemiologist Rachel Herlihy warned yesterday it is not yet time to chuck the masks.  As another epidemiologist put it: "People may be tired of the virus, but the virus doesn't get tired and if people are lax another variant - worse than omicron- will trigger another surge."

 See Also:

‘Blue’ suburban moms mobilize in fights over masks, book bans and diversity education


by Ian Reifowitz | January 31, 2022 - 7:23am | permalink


by Bill Berkowitz | February 4, 2022 - 7:40am | permalink

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