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No More COVID SWAG!

For one long year the COVID-19 pandemic has been afflicted by no shortage of people with MD and Ph.D. after their names spouting all manner of idiocy and nonsense that flies in the face of over a century of highly developed and refined principles of infectious disease biology and immunology, as well as epidemiology.

If you want to be a hero for a week or two, just assure people that the pandemic is mostly over and we’ll all be back to normal any day now. Then militate against the mitigation protocols for good measure.

Last summer we were assured that NYC had reached herd immunity based upon the massive number of cases in the spring, followed by very low numbers throughout the summer months. It was all over, we were told. New York had reached herd immunity at below a 20% infection rate for the population. It would have been laughable had it not had such deadly implications for a population who were savaged by this pathogen as no other state had been, with over twenty-thousand dead in the city in just two months. People were willing and needed to believe any ray of hope. Herd immunity at 20% for an airborne pathogen that could remain airborne for hours as an aerosol, and that was highly infectious with a case fatality rate at the time above 7% was damned near criminal to assert. A look at the Johns Hopkins data on New York State, above, shows that we were FAR from herd immunity in the Spring, with the current rate of infection and absolute numbers dwarfing the Spring data.

The data below show the NYC numbers as of today.

Does that look like herd immunity having been reached in the summer?

No. What we have been afflicted by has been clueless individuals offering up their own SWAG (Scientific Wild Ass Guess). We’ve had a year of that, and quite frankly, we’ve had enough. So, here is a little unpleasant truth.

Politicians and citizens on the left AND the right have politicized this, either with draconian shut-downs (as opposed to targeted), or complete rejection of masking and the other mitigation strategies. Physicians and scientists have SWAGed the biomedical community into a perceived group of Keystone Cops. The truth of the matter is that all of this has contributed to a climate of hopelessness and distrust that has cost us 375,000 lives when the data get updated tomorrow. We’ll top 400,000 dead by January 21, the official one-year anniversary of CDC reporting data on this pandemic.

Given the amount of distrust in the vaccines generated by anti-Trump leftist politicians, medical personnel who don’t know what they’re talking about, and the anti-vaxxer community, we’ll fall short of the number of vaccinated individuals necessary for herd immunity. Given the hardened positions against targeted closures and mitigation protocols, we may well see an ADDITIONAL 400,000-500,000 dead by the end of next summer.

That doesn’t have to be the case.

We can cut that down by at least 300,000 if people get serious about masking, distancing, minimizing contact, sanitary practices, targeted closures, and vaccinations. In order to achieve that, we need to stop listening to the sweetly seductive voices of the SWAGers and other deniers of scientific reality.

The truth is that we are in the midst of a once-a-century pandemic, and we won’t get our old lives back until we defeat this pathogen. It stinks, but that’s the reality. As with all other adult realities there are no quick and easy shortcuts. The work before us will be long and hard, and if we don’t rise to the challenge the death toll will approach 1,000,000 before this virus is brought to its knees.

Tomorrow we’ll look at the mRNA vaccines and see that they have not been nearly as rushed as people think.

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