Does COVID have an end, as in a final chapter or act?
Or will it be like a movie theme that keeps spitting out sequels, each one worse than the last one, and none even close to the first movie that started the franchise? Think of Star Wars or Fast and Furious.
COVID sequels are the endless variants, starting with Greek letters, now with simply a soup of letters and numbers denoting the current strain of interest. As viruses mutate, they generally become more contagious but less lethal, as much of the population by this time has gained natural immunity from previous infection. This also serves to prolong the life course of the virus that would rather spread far and wide as opposed to killing its host, stopping spread.
COVID cases numbers are up, but what does that really mean? We see endless tweets from politicians testing positive, almost all of them fully vaccinated and boosted, feeling fine, expressing thanks for the vaccines, using almost identical verbiage in their tweets.
From Vice President Kamala Harris:
Today I tested positive for COVID-19. I have no symptoms, and I will continue to isolate and follow CDC guidelines. I’m grateful to be both vaccinated and boosted.
From Speaker Nancy Pelosi:
I tested positive for COVID and am asymptomatic. Thank you for your many kind wishes. I am grateful for them and to be vaccinated.
Has COVID become like the common cold or a mild version of the flu? While case numbers, meaning positive nasal swab tests, are rising in some areas, hospitalizations and deaths are down significantly. What does a positive test in an asymptomatic individual mean? Especially if that person has COVID immunity to some degree from natural infection and/or vaccination?
Neisseria meningitidis which is a cause of bacterial meningitis, potentially fatal in 10 to 15 percent of those afflicted, is found in the nasopharynx of 10 to 35 percent of asymptomatic adults. If we applied COVID rules and repeatedly tested asymptomatic individuals, with a quarter to a third testing positive for this high mortality infectious disease, the world would be in panic mode.
Which is exactly why we don’t test the healthy as the results serve only to scare and panic the public. Yet this is exactly what we continue to do with COVID. One wonders why the CDC keeps pushing this testing practice that they don’t recommend for other infectious diseases.
How many Americans are still at risk of COVID, now over two years into the pandemic? According to the CDC, “At least 58% of U.S. population has natural antibodies from previous Covid infection.” They say “at least” meaning close to two thirds of Americans could have natural immunity by now.
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This number is higher in children where, “75% of children and adolescents had serologic evidence of previous infection” with COVID. This is also the group least likely to be hospitalized or die from COVID, unless immunocompromised. Yet vaccine behemoth Moderna is seeking FDA authorization for vaccinating “children younger than age 5”, a group at extremely low risk for severe COVID illness.
How about vaccine immunity, whatever that actually means? Vaccines may reduce the chance of severe illness, meaning hospitalization and death, but they do not prevent infection and transmission, according to CDC Director Rochelle Walensky. Interestingly, 3.2 percent of the CDC’s workforce are not vaccinated, a small percentage, but still noteworthy.
The share of the U.S. population fully vaccinated is 66 percent, with 30 percent boosted as well, according to The New York Times. So approximately two thirds of Americans have natural immunity and a similar percentage have “vaccine immunity.” Many have both. Even with overlap, it’s safe to assume that at least 80-90 percent or more Americans have some form of immunity, meaning, as a country, we have probably reached herd immunity.
What is the number needed for herd immunity? No one knows for sure. Yale Medicine noted,
At the start of the pandemic, figures like 60 to 70% were given as estimates of how much of the population would need immunity from the coronavirus in order to reach herd immunity.
With the increase in variants, which are more infectious and could potentially impact the effectiveness of the vaccines, that percentage is now estimated to be higher—some say up to 85%. And it has become more difficult to pin down.
As kids in the car ask their annoyed parents, “Are we there yet?” The above numbers suggest we are close to or have reached herd immunity, yet the medical smart set is reluctant to acknowledge or discuss this. Why is that?
Even Dr. Anthony Fauci recently told PBS’s Judy Woodruff that the U.S. is, “out of the pandemic phase” of COVID. At least until the White House corrected him with Press Secretary Jen Psaki setting Dr. Fauci straight by saying, “COVID isn’t over, and the pandemic isn’t over.” Once again, the media thinks they know more than medical professionals.
A pandemic is a global epidemic, affecting more than one continent. An epidemic occurs when the percentage of severe illness and death from an infectious disease exceeds what is considered normal for that time.
COVID will likely always be with us, blending into the soup of common colds and influenza, deadly for a few, especially the elderly and those in poor health, and an annoyance for almost everyone else. When cases spike, as the seasonal flu does, it may be considered an epidemic.
Is it time to move on from this sad, anxious, and divisive period in our national medical history? Is enough now enough? Slowly life is returning to normal, with the mask mandate on public transportation now deemed unconstitutional. Why did it take a judge to end this mandate? Is there sound science behind keeping the mandate in place? The Biden administration is appealing the judicial ruling but what is their objection based on?
Those who want to wear a mask, or two, are free to do so. Between the high rates of natural and vaccine immunity, why is there concern about others on the plane without a mask? And if the masks work as we are told they do, then anyone wearing one should feel safe and protected. Yet we hear otherwise, as in this editorial from The Hill urging continued masking in airports and on airplanes.
Dragging this on indefinitely has consequences. Such as the economic carnage from COVID, the U.S. inching toward a recession with high inflation, also known as stagflation. There are mental health consequences to add to our collective misery. 50 percent of young adults currently report symptoms of depression according to a recent COVID survey.
The American spirit is slowly being destroyed, replaced with an Orwellian form of submission and compliance. Politicians of both parties either pile on to the national beat down or else look the other way and pretend it isn’t happening. But it is, and the consequences are only beginning to become apparent. When is enough enough?
Brian C. Joondeph, M.D., is a fully vaccinated physician and writer. Follow me on Twitter @retinaldoctor. And on Truth Social @BrianJoondeph.
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