The pandemic is/is not over


I know everyone is acting as if it’s won and done, but it isn’t.

The number of new coronavirus cases rose by 18% in the last week, with more than 4.1 million cases reported globally, according to the World Health Organization.

The U.N. health agency said in its latest weekly report on the pandemic that the worldwide number of deaths remained relatively similar to the week before, at about 8,500. COVID-related deaths increased in three regions: the Middle East, Southeast Asia and the Americas.

It’s annoying how the people who actually know the science are saying one thing, while politics is pretending the opposite.

“This pandemic is changing, but it’s not over,” Tedros said this week during a press briefing. He said the ability to track COVID-19’s genetic evolution was “under threat” as countries relaxed surveillance and genetic sequencing efforts, warning that would make it more difficult to catch emerging and potentially dangerous new variants.

Here’s a fun one. I want to know what reasonable precautions I can take in my classes, but here’s how my university dodges the issue:

So sure, you can ask your students and colleagues to take reasonable action to protect you and each other, but they are allowed to ignore you, and you will respect their decision to endanger everyone’s health.

Great. This is going to be the year I get COVID. Hope I don’t die!

Comments

  1. cartomancer says

    I am still waiting for my criminally nonchalant brother to get his vaccination. It has driven me to despair this last year, knowing that he could be protected but isn’t. All thanks to his idiot wife and her scientific illiteracy. I don’t think I’ve slept properly for two years thanks to the worry. At least my sexagenarian parents are still taking every precaution, which is some comfort. As for myself, I’ve had it twice and didn’t get symptoms either time. I’m hoping I’ll be ok. Having to go in front of classes of children every day isn’t ideal.

  2. says

    Yes/no, I completely/partially agree/disagree. The pandemic is/is not over, making/not making me very unhappy/happy.
    Mixed signals aside, I try to err on the side of safety. So when I go to the store today, I’m taking the damn mask.

  3. divineconspiracy667 says

    I just ran into a former hockey teammate on Wednesday. I haven’t seen him in about three years, as our team disbanded the year before COVID hit, and I haven’t played hockey since the pandemic started, because apparently COVID was ripping through the local hockey community.
    He was very skinny, but puffy in the face. When I asked if he’d been playing hockey, he said he hadn’t for about a year. Turns out he developed a heart issue where his heart is only working at 30%, and exercise could kill him. He’s on meds to try and fix his heart, but if they don’t work, he’ll need a heart transplant. He says his doctor told him that even with a transplant, most people only live 5-6 years afterwards.
    He’s in his early 30s. They don’t know exactly what caused the heart condition, but he’s caught COVID four times, including one case of long COVID that took 6 months to improve. His doctors figure COVID affected his heart, and he’s probably going to die within the next 5-6 years. Living another decade will likely be a small miracle.
    You’re right, the pandemic isn’t over, no matter how much people want to pretend it is.

  4. mordred says

    Yeah, here in Germany public life seems to be pretty much liker there is no longer any problem. Just this week I read that in the city of Wiesbaden currently about 20% of their bus drivers are sick with covid so public transport is rather limited.

  5. numerobis says

    Most my most careful colleagues (myself included) have caught COVID in the past two months.

  6. raven says

    Everyone is going to get it sooner or later.
    The virus is everywhere and highly contagious and the latest dominant variants, BA.4 and BA.5 are immune escape viruses.

    After two years, my friend cheerfully informed me yesterday that she just got Covid-19 virus. She has been vaccinated with 3 doses of two different vaccines. It lasted 4 days and wasn’t very severe.

    I’m one of the few people I know who haven’t gotten it yet. I’m expecting that to change this year.

  7. tacitus says

    If you’re fully vaccinated and continue to get boosted regularly, you not going to die (at least the odds are very low). My family is in the UK where the government is completely “over Covid” and BA.4/BA.5 wave is well underway, and while it’s getting harder to avoid being infected, the severity of the infections remains low.

    In Wales, at least, the reports are that a large majority of people in hospital with Covid are there for reasons other than the virus:

    The number of patients testing positive for Covid in hospital beds in Wales has averaged 405 a day over the past week – a 78% rise on a week ago.

    These numbers are the highest since early May and are reflecting a recent rise in community infections.

    But they have been mostly “incidental” Covid patients.

    Only 48 (12%) of confirmed Covid patients in acute beds on 27 June were being primarily treated for the virus, with 360 patients in hospital being treated for other conditions.

    I don’t know if it’s as low in the rest of the UK, but it is reported to be under 50%, and the number of ICU patients being treated primarily for Covid-19 remains low. Anecdotally, the care home where my parents reside had the first Omicron wave run through the facility (before they arrived) with the majority of residents infected. To my surprise, not one resident became ill enough to be taken to hospital, and all recovered fully (they were all fully vaccinated of course). That was BA.1, but BA.4 and BA.5 do not (as yet) appear to be any more dangerous.

    The FDA just said the new Omicron-targeting booster shot won’t need another round of trials to gain approval, which is good news, though it’s not expected to be widely available enough to prevent the wave from hitting. They are getting good responses against the latest sub-variants, though.

  8. wzrd1 says

    Going on two years, our youngest daughter still is struggling with long COVID.
    And as raven said above, the newest strain is far more contagious and 30% again, on top of the increased immune evasion, more prone to be missed by both those who had COVID and those vaccinated.
    At this point, I’m beyond caring. Between the ignoring and acceptance of death as a normal event now, lifelong disability ignored, recent personal events and “friends” promise to pick up my BP and thyroid meds offering a litany of excuses as to why they failed to do so, screw it. It’d be a relief.

  9. tacitus says

    I’m one of the few people I know who haven’t gotten it yet. I’m expecting that to change this year.

    Me neither, though aside from several transatlantic trips, I don’t have a lot of exposure. My closest call was spending a couple of hours in a car with my brother who thought he just had a cold but tested positive for Covid the following day. I’m really surprised I didn’t catch it (confirmed with a negative antibody test a few weeks later). Both he and I were fully vaccinated, which I’m sure is the main reason I didn’t catch it.

    I played golf the other day with a middle school teacher here in Texas, and he had somehow managed to avoid infection despite in-class teaching most of the pandemic.

  10. eliza422 says

    I still wear a mask if I’m inside anywhere except one friend’s house. If I’m outside I will have one at hand if I get near other people. My craft group has finally started meeting again and I wear a mask the whole time.
    I know it’s not perfect, but I haven’t gotten covid yet. Just a few weeks ago I got my second booster. I’m well aware that one of the benefits of the vax is that you don’t get a severe case, but I have a few risk factors that make me put up with the truly minor inconvenience of wearing a mask. I would say most people now don’t wear them (I’m in a suburb of Chicago), but a fair number still do. I am going to a craft conference in August and fully plan on wearing a mask all day every day.
    I feel lucky that here – there is no push back if you do wear a mask; at stores some employees have them some don’t, so it’s definitely the best it could possibly at this point.

  11. microraptor says

    Asking us to be respectful of people who choose not to wear masks is like asking people in a community with an AIDS epidemic to be respectful of partners who choose not to wear condoms.

  12. wzrd1 says

    @microraptor, one should always be respectful of the dead. ;)
    That was said by ever so many people, who oddly disrespected the dead… I always wondered, if I had to respect the dead, does that mean I have to respect Hitler and Genghis Khan?
    So, I said screw it, if the dead don’t like it, they are welcome to come to me and complain. ;)

    The virus is still here, it’s not decreased at all and if anything, spreads ever more easily and now evades immune response in those exposed. I’ve successfully avoided getting infected, mostly to protect my wife and while she’s deceased of other causes, I’ll just keep to avoiding contract it out of general oneriness.

  13. billseymour says

    I don’t think it’s over, either.  I always wear a mask when I’m out and about, but I hardly ever see anyone around where I live wearing one.  Yeah, it’s Missouri’s Second Congressional District, but they can’t all be Trumpistas.

    I was fortunate in being able to work from home until I retired on the first of June, so ever since COVID struck, I’ve hardly had any need to leave home except for trips to the grocery store; and I’ve had no cold-like symptoms except for the usual allergies which are old news for me.

    Also, I haven’t been to a barber shop for a couple of years.  Fortunately, I don’t think the ageing hippie look is horrible (bald on top, long hair in back); and that is my generation (although I was never an actual hippie…I was in the Air Force when Haight-Ashbury was a thing).  I did shave off my beard to make the mask work better.

  14. Peter Bollwerk says

    A good friend (who is immunized and boosted at least once) is in an induced coma in the ICU due to Covid. He is immunosuppressed though, as he is an organ donor recipient. This shit is no joke.
    I just got my 2nd booster and am redoubling my efforts to wear masks again everywhere.

  15. birgerjohansson says

    Two of the vaccine developers have vaccines modified to strike at the omricon variant.

    Here in Sweden authorities are measuring the covid level in sewage. It is expected to rise at the end of summer.
    The health authorities are ready to start re-vaccinating people around 65 years soon.
    This is a working democracy where demagogues have not yet wrecked the system, so I feel some degree of confidence. But the virus has provided nasty surprises before.
    Covid has unmasked the politicians that are useless or cynical.

  16. submoron says

    Attn. administrator: please close my account. I can’t see that I’ve ever contributed anything worthwhile but stupidity and EtOH keep me commenting. Over and Out.

  17. brucej says

    Waiting tofind out if I caught my dose this week. Two rapid tests came out negative, but an office colleague suggested I get a PCR test anyway because someone else he works with on campus tested negative on four rapid tests, PCD came back positive (along with the fact that he clearly had symptoms…which is why the repeated testing)

    103 fever last night, 101 this morning, runny nose, coughing.

    (worse is my SIL who has COPD and immune issues just cropped up positive yesterday)

    It’s very weird, it’s almost as though a highly contagious virus spreading through the population just doesn’t have the common courtesy to take our desires into consideration and just go away.

  18. Pierce R. Butler says

    Today’s Worldometer c-virus report:

    102,788 new cases and 283 new deaths in the United States

    Obviously an undercount, given the lags in reporting time over much of the country (among other factors). Still, more than twice the death rate by firearms – getting much less than half the (minuscule) action from Congress concerning the latter.

  19. torcuato says

    @5 numerobis, @6 raven Yes! Everybody is going to get Covid, sooner rather than later. Even those who think they haven’t gotten Covid yet, how do you know? At least two friends of mine recently learned they had Covid because of routine weekly tests at work, but they had no symptoms whatsoever. Look at Taiwan, Hong Kong, Korea, Japan, Australia, New Zealand,… Places where they thought they could control the virus. Even with high vaccination rates, Omicron is doing its thing over there as well.
    So, I think it’s a good think that the vast majority of us are living like it was 2019 all over again. Get vaccinated, get boosted, and the chances of getting seriously ill or dying are infinitesimal. But why should we do anything at all to “protect” the small minority who is still under the impression that they can avoid the virus?

  20. KG says

    torcuato@19,

    Even those who think they haven’t gotten Covid yet, how do you know? At least two friends of mine recently learned they had Covid because of routine weekly tests at work, but they had no symptoms whatsoever.

    So, fucking, what? Prior infection with any variant gives little protection against reinfection with Omicron, and having no or few symptoms the first time does not mean you won’t be seriously ill the second.

    Get vaccinated, get boosted, and the chances of getting seriously ill or dying are infinitesimal. –

    A straightforward falsehood; I don’t call it a lie because you may be stupid enough to have fooled yourself into believing it. See in particular Table 2 at the link: even after a fourth dose of vaccine, people can and do still die of Covid-19 Omicron variant, and while the risk is low and considerably reduced (at least in the short term) by the fourth dose, it is not “infinitesimal”. Moreover, people can and do still get “long Covid” at considerably higher rates, and we simply don’t know the effect of repeated Covid infections.

  21. KG says

    Here’s an update on the situation in the UK from an immunologist.
    TL;DR: No, the pandemic is not over – far from it. Numbers with long Covid are still rising, many are still taking time off work because they feel so ill. Take-up among the small number so far offered a fourth dose (the over-75s and the immunocompromised) has not been very good. The article doesn’t speculate as to why, but I’d be surprised if the general “Oh, the pandemic’s over” complacency isn’t the main factor. I’ll certainly be getting mine when offered (current plans are to extend to the over-65s but no further) – probably around October, nearly a year after my third dose.

  22. KG says

    Thanks John@21. I hadn’t seen that, although I have seen a number of worrying studies about the post-acute phase of infection with SARS-CoV-2, which often apparently hangs around in the body for months at least.

    It’s interesting, in a somewhat ghoulish way, to contrast the Covid pandemic with the typical science fiction one, in which most of the population dies within weeks or months. At present, it seems quite possible that SARS-CoV-2 will cause multiple reinfections with consequent health (including cognitive health) decline and raised mortality for decades. There is also some evidence the virus may reduce male fertility – nothing yet, AFAIK, on female fertility, although a review protocol has been published.

  23. scienceishumanity says

    The pandemic will “end” with the development of an arsenal of pharmaco-therapeutics such as Sabizabulin etc which will limit the more damaging effects of endemic Cov19 infection. Annual tailored vaccines and clinical treatments are what “living with Covid” should mean.

  24. silvrhalide says

    The current second booster/fourth dose may not be all that useful with the current formulation. Unfortunately.
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2022/04/20/when-to-get-second-covid-booster/
    “Data from Israel, which offered fourth shots to people 60 and older during the omicron surge, show that the additional shot increases protection against severe illness and death compared with a third shot. But against infections — most of which are officially deemed “mild” — a fourth shot provided only a modest and brief increase in protection, peaking at four weeks after the booster dose and dropping back to the baseline after eight weeks.”

    So far as I know I haven’t had it yet, although I very well might have and no symptoms. OTOH, I only leave my home for groceries and to go hiking. If it has four walls and a roof, I wear a mask, but who knows how effective those are? Something like 60% of the KN95 masks are fake and the cloth and face-fitting surgical masks may not do anything at all.
    @21 Thanks for the link. I knew that the vaccine didn’t really protect against long Covid but I had no idea that the rate was that low. 15%?! Crap on a cracker. Clearly I need to look into getting a field Racal. Damn.

  25. silvrhalide says

    @22 & 23 I plan on getting mine in Sept/Oct., when the vaccine companies are supposed to have the new formula tailored for the Omicron variant. Who knows if that will even be the dominant strain by that time but I’m out for a week every time I get the shot and frankly didn’t see the upside to getting a fourth shot whose immunity protection will wear off before the end of the summer. In the US, at least, you can more or less get the fourth booster if you are an adult but it’s still only recommended for the 50+ population or if you are going to travel, etc.

    Interesting article. I always thought it was just the oxidative stress; didn’t realize that the mitochondria in the spermatozoa were also affected. Also wondering how much effect the cardiovascular damage will also have on male reproductive success. Since Covid clearly targets the heart, along with a number of other organs.

    The real question, to me anyway, is how many opportunistic diseases will take out the people who got sick with Covid and recovered but not fully. I hardly see anyone wearing masks anymore and my state is currently at High for Covid rates. The average lifespan in the US has already taken a dip and I don’t think that we’re going to hit a plateau or start rebounding any time soon.

  26. rorschach says

    raven @6,

    “Everyone is going to get it sooner or later.”

    This is the talk of the let it rip crowd. It’s not inevitable to get infected at all. But sure, it’s getting harder to avoid infection. Many people are not showing any solidarity with the vulnerable, and frame wanting to avoid a potentially deadly multisystem disease as being anxious and scared. They argue the primary infection is “mild”, like a flu, but HIV and Polio also had mild primary infections. This is completely beside the point, but noone seems to realise it.

    We are seeing T-cell levels worse than with HIV after multiple Covid, red cells that can’t take up oxygen, livers and kidneys fucked, mitochondria damaged, alveolar capillaries obstructed, leading to the Long Covid symptoms that 10-25% of people experience after this “mild” infection.

    Now people get Influenza, RSV, Monkeypox, Diphtheria and god knows what else in high numbers because their immune systems are shot from Covid, not because they wore a mask in the supermarket.
    Studies show almost everyone with “mild” Covid has some kind of cognitive decline, worsening with time, not able to do their jobs anymore, or not as well as before. You don’t pick that up in the Ct scan though, so it is not widely known.

    To avoid Covid:
    No indoors activity without a fitting FFP2 mask, there is no safe distance indoors with this virus
    Outdoors keep your distance to people
    Caragellose nose spray plus mask if in crowded spaces, airplanes etc.
    Zinc, Vit.D may have a role
    4x vacc., Nose vax when available, should be in the next 12 mts.

    One more thing: I do not suggest waiting for the Omicron-adapted vaccine, it was tested on BA1 and not the current emerging variants BA5 and BA 2.75.

  27. klatu says

    Everything @rorschach just said. Also, fuck you @torcuato. It’s not about the willful plague rats among us, it’s about protecting each other. Because vaccines are not 100% effective, because lots of people are immuno-compromised, old, or too young to get vaccinated. Virtually everyone is in regular contact with at least one such person, give or take a degree of separation.

    Your cavalier attitude implies: Fuck the weak. Let them die.

    So fuck you, instead. Wear a mask, you dipshit.

    @rorschach #28

    One more thing: I do not suggest waiting for the Omicron-adapted vaccine, it was tested on BA1 and not the current emerging variants BA5 and BA 2.75.

    Yeah, just tried getting a fourth shot for me and my parents, because three to four months without up-to-date protection strikes me as a problem. But here in Germany, the “recommendation” right now applies only for those 70 up or with a medical justification. Which means your doctor sends you to the municipality, which sends you to the next higher municipality, which sends you to a vaccination center that says “only 70 and up”.

    < rant>
    All this bullshit because having mandatory vaccinations apparently is a major incision into our “freedom”. I’d like to have the freedom not be surrounded by callous (mask-free) assholes when I go out, but what do I know? I’m just a whiny weakling who is irrationally afraid of contracting and–worse–spreading a potentially life-long, severely debilitating disease.
    </ rant>

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