Time to Unmask the Pandemic and Shift to Normal
It has been a while since I have taken a deep dive into the current data regarding Covid. In the two years that I have been researching, tracking and writing about the Covid-19 Pandemic, there was never a time that the information was more inconsistent, unreliable and more politically influenced by unnecessary fearmongering.
Judging from the daily news reports, you would think that the situation today is as bad as it was this time last year – before we had the vaccines and millions of others now having natural immunity. In fact, some of those folks on television have said as much. This surge in the Panic Pandemic is fueled by the latest Covid variant – Omicron. “The Omicron Variant” sounds like a Hollywood sci-fi movie – and perhaps it should have been.
In response, outgoing New York City Mayor Bill (never met a regulation I did not like) de Blasio has put the City back into another economic and social tailspin only weeks after effusively announcing that the “Big Apple is back.”
Everywhere, folks are being told to go back to the pre-vaccine practices of social distancing, mask-wearing, avoiding crowds, not travelling and skipping holiday family events. Sports teams are cancelling games. Airlines are cancelling flights despite their masking requirement. (How does one eat or drink on a plane with a mask – and it you remove it even temporarily, masking is virtually worthless.)
So, what does the data tell us?
Currently, more than 60 percent of the population is vaccinated – close to what we were once told was herd immunity. Fifty-two million more have natural immunity after recovering from the virus, although many of them are also vaccinated.
It may be unpleasant to consider … but we need to understand that for the past two years, the most vulnerable among us – the very old and very ill – have died. And those who are entering that age ailment demographic are among the most vaccinated – the most protected.
In doing a deep dive into the statistics, I think we need to consider that we are experiencing the effects of TWO pandemics – the Delta and the Omicron. It is not unreasonable to view it that way since they operate with very significant differences. Delta is less infectious, but more serious. Omicron is more infectious but seemingly far less serious.
Many attribute the increase in hospitalizations and deaths to the quick-spreading Omicron variant. But probably not. Virtually all studies now show that Omicron is not producing a lot of hospitalizations and almost no deaths – at least not statistically significant number of deaths.
We need to recall the predictions of the medical experts last summer. They predicted that with the onset of Winter — and the impact of the holidays on human conduct – that we would experience a seasonal spike in cases, hospitalization and deaths that were clearly due to Delta – not Omicron.
The good news about Omicron is that despite its growing numbers, the RELATIVE number of hospitalizations and deaths is way low. That means hospitalizations and deaths PER COVID CASES.
We can know that the seasonal spike is due to Delta because the number of cases of Omicron in hospitals is very, very low. And Deaths are almost non-existent. The vast majority of serious and fatal cases are from the Delta Variant – and from the unvaccinated.
When I see medical authorities calling for more Draconian measures – universal masking, social distancing and non-gathering – It reminds me of an old saw … “If your only tool is a hammer, all your problems look like nails.” Ergo, they believe that preventing even one death is worth any extreme measure – no matter how severe … no matter the terrible the ancillary problems they create.
Doctors tell us of the negative impact on the mental health of the majority of the population – with depression and suicides soaring. These are folks suffering serious consequences from the shutdown.
The impact of the fearmongering has been especially hard on the children in terms of emotional stability, physical and intellectual development. Children are suffering even though they are among the least likely to contract Covid or suffer serious consequences if they do. The harm to them is all related to the protective measures.
Much of the emotional toll on all Americans – including the 85 percent who will never get Covid of any variant — has been the result of economic devastation to families and businesses. Like the children they are suffering only from the imposed protective measures.
It is no small irony that we are likely to overcome the medical impact of Covid long before we overcome the negative impact of the protective measures that have down so much damage.
Today, we are essentially re-installing Draconian protections for a disease which will never even sicken more than 15 to 20 percent of the American people. And that is the TOTAL number since the onset of the Pandemic. If you look at the number of current active cases (11 million) in America, that represents approximately 3 percent of the population – including both Delta and Omicron cases. Ninety-seven percent of Americans are not sick with Covid.
To put the actual number to that fact, one percent of the American people have been hospitalized with Covid SINCE THE ONSET OF THE PANDEMIC — and two-tenths of one percent of Americans have died from Covid. That does not minimize the sadness and the tragedy for families and loved ones, but merely puts those hard facts into a proper perspective.
It is also noteworthy that the serious cases of Covid – hospitalizations, ICU patients and deaths – are overwhelmingly among the unvaccinated. The vaccinated have little risk of a serious case and almost no risk of landing in an ICU or dying. That is especially true of the Omicron Variant, where hospitalizations are minimal and death statistically zero – with only a handful of anecdotal cases across the world.
The enemy is the Delta virus, NOT those of us living normal pre-Pandemic lives. The victims are overwhelmingly the unvaccinated—and they are responsible for their decision. The unvaccinated do not pose a major risk to me or me to them – at least that is what the scientists and data tells us. That is not an uninformed personal opinion that is the actual risk assessment.
I have used my commentaries to encourage vaccinations. Having done that, I see no reason for me to go around acting like it is December of 2020 when the Covid was an unrestrained killer and the only protections at the time were the social measures. For me – and all the other vaccinated folks – this Pandemic is in the rearview mirror. I live my life as close to normal as I can – adhering to restrictions (mostly masking) that I cannot avoid.
If you look at the statistics as the two distinct Delta and Omicron pandemics, you can see who is at risk and who is not as much at risk. The increase in the number of cases is due mostly to the less dangerous Omicron Variant – but the serious cases are due to the Delta Variant. That means the surge in cases is mostly Omicron and the surge in hospitalization and deaths is almost exclusively the result of Delta infections among the unvaccinated – the very surge in hospitalizations and deaths that was predicted for this season by the medical authorities BEFORE the factored in Omicron.
We also need to look at the reasons why there is such an explosion of Omicron cases. There are actually two reasons, although the media only focuses on one. It has been determined that the Omicron Variant is more infectious – it spreads more easily. That is a significant medical fact.
But the other reason for the surge in cases has to do with testing. We are arguably in a testing frenzy driven by fearmongering. We see the long lines at testing centers. Pharmacies are running out of the instant home-use testing kits. Millions of folks who have no symptoms and have not been in contact with a person known to have Covid are rushing out to get tested … repeatedly.
With all that testing, we are bound to find asymptomatic people who unknowingly have Covid. Fortunately, since they are asymptomatic, there is no need of medical intervention, hospitalization and they are at virtually no risk of death.
Delta is a serious threat to the unvaccinated and Omicron is turning out to be a much less public health problem all. A serious affliction – as is the seasonal flu – but short of a crisis.
Dr. Ashish Jha, who frequently appears on television as one of America’s leading authorities, indirectly alluded to my hammer-and-nails analogy when he said that if you want to save EVERY person from Covid, you need to take very extreme measures – very harmful measures. If you want to mitigate the seriousness of the disease in a more reasonable fashion (Jha’s recommendation), you do not take extreme measures. In other words, we should not wreak havoc on all of society when the problem is limited in scope and severity.
If you study the statistics and listen to the scientists – not the politicians and the media – you discover that Covid has not infected 85 percent of the population – with only a fraction of these cases being serious or fatal.
And Omicron may actually be spreading more immunity rather than SERIOUS illness and death, according to the statistics. If you are vaccinated, neither the Delta nor the Omicron Variant poses a major health threat to you… or me. Rather than shutting down society further – and causing all those terrible ancillary outcomes – we should be opening up further. We should be returning to a more normal way of life.
So, there ‘tis.