COVID, COVID, COVID. Let’s pretend it doesn’t exist!


First Dog on the Moon does adequately capture our current sense of the state of the pandemic, although saying “10,000 dead” is so quaint — but then, it’s an Australian comic. American policy has been so consistently stupid that we have over 1,000,000 dead here. Also, I don’t know what a “bbg*” is, someone will have to explain it to me.

The fourth panel hits home, too.

Do you know someone who has had COVID? Was it you? I was at a rare bbg* on the weekend with a bunch of scientists and only two of them had ever had COVID. WHY? Because they were animal scientists. They are only ever at home or in the bush pointing their fiendish science machines at unsuspecting furry animals or birds and then they go back home again. No COVID.

I’ve never had COVID. WHY? Because am only ever at home or in the field or in the lab pointing fiendish science machines at unsuspecting spiders. I’ve been scrupulous about social distancing and masking everywhere I go, I’ve gotten 4 vaccine shots, and while I had to teach a mob of disease vectors, they all had to wear masks and spread out (former university policy), and I took measures to move as much of my courses online as possible. That’s why.

That was at some cost, too. My big pre-pandemic project was to do community outreach and get a baseline spider population count in homes around here…well, that got monkey-wrenched hard by the disease so I’ve been focused on just the spiders, forget the plague carriers. And oh, man, all the work involved in transforming my classes, without compensation other than not getting sick!

Now all those protective measures have been torn down by my university, and I feel like this is the year they’re going to reward me for 22 years of service with a potentially deadly disease. They’ll be saving on pension expenses, at least.

Comments

  1. René says

    danamania, I doubt the lettering is drawn, I’m pretty sure a font was used.

  2. Rich Woods says

    @danamania #1:

    That or boy-boy-girl, which is pretty much a guarantee of a superspreader event.

  3. F.O. says

    If you zoom it’s obvious that’s bbq.
    Plus, it’s Australia. Barbies are like the national dish.

  4. chrislawson says

    In case you’re wondering, Twiggy and Gina are Andrew “Twiggy” Forrest and Gina Rinehart, mining magnates and the two richest Australians according to the Financial Review’s Rich List.

  5. raven says

    American policy has been so consistently stupid that we have over 1,000,000 dead here.

    The actual number of dead from the US Covid-19 virus pandemic is ca. 400,000 more at 1, 400,000.
    It is known that the published statistics are an undercount.

    Someone went through the “excess deaths” statistics and added them all up. It’s a lot of dead people.

  6. Pierce R. Butler says

    F.O. @ # 5: If you zoom it’s obvious that’s bbq.

    What does an asterisk mean in Strine?

  7. PaulBC says

    F.O.@5 When my son was very little, we watched the Wiggles, and I recall the explanation to an American audience that their song “Barbie on the Beach” referred to a barbecue and not the doll. So… confusing… I’m not even gonna touch “shrimp on the barbie.”

    Am I mistaken that the US reached “peak Aussie” in the 80s when Paul Hogan was big? I’d love to visit some day, but there doesn’t seem to be the level of exposure (media, travel ads, etc.) that there used to be.

  8. rorschach says

    There will be more theses written about the psychological effects and responses to this pandemic in 20 years, than about the medical facts. How governments around the world made themselves believe that if only we soak people’s immune systems with the purveyor of a deadly multisystem disease, we shall eventually achieve the magic furphy, mucosal immunity.
    How people framed folks reasonably trying to avoid this condition as being scared and hyperanxious.
    Why people who ought to know better, epidemiologists, virologists, paediatricians, decided to minimise and trivialise this disease, and deny the effect of mitigating measures. In the land of poets and thinkers, Germany, the government is currently pretending to evaluate the effect of masks. You could not make it up.

  9. consciousness razor says

    PaulBC:

    Am I mistaken that the US reached “peak Aussie” in the 80s when Paul Hogan was big?

    It’s not a commodity like oil which can peak or be depleted. It’s a country and an Anglophone one at that, meaning its actors, writers, musicians and such face fewer hurdles than many others do.

  10. rorschach says

    ” It’s a country and an Anglophone one at that, meaning its actors, writers, musicians and such face fewer hurdles than many others do.”

    Australia’s actors, writers, musicians and such have been systematically defunded, and purposefully not supported during the pandemic, and over the last 10 years of conservative government there. Please at least try to make an effort? Do you have Twitter, I can send a few defunded and marginalised “actors, writers, musicians and such” your way.

  11. consciousness razor says

    rorschach:

    Australia’s actors, writers, musicians and such have been systematically defunded, and purposefully not supported during the pandemic, and over the last 10 years of conservative government there.

    The same kind of shit has been happening in the US since at least the Reagan years, in my memory, or much longer if the comparison is to programs during the FDR years. Yet it is still culturally very dominant. And I wasn’t saying anything about actions taken by the Australian government (or mine), just that there are real advantages which come with speaking the (global) lingua franca.

    Not speaking English is a big hurdle. Dress that up and make it as intersectional as you like, but it’s a fact.

    Please at least try to make an effort?

    At what? I thought you might at least appreciate that I’m not regarding tens of millions of people as a commodity or some kind of fad.

  12. rorschach says

    “At what? I thought you might at least appreciate that I’m not regarding tens of millions of people as a commodity or some kind of fad.”
    Yeah well, that mindset is getting rare these days, but not a cause for celebration. The fact everyone seems to be turning antisocial lunatic sociopath after 2.5 years of a pandemic governments did not bother to explain to people is not entirely surprising. It is frustrating, though. If your job is to protect people from a preventable infection.

  13. René says

    Pierce R. Butler #8:

    What does an asterisk mean in Strine?

    I had never heard of Stryne/Strine but I have duck duck go.
    Anyway, the asterisk leads to a footnote under the last frame. The author forgot to include the asterisk there, however.

  14. wzrd1 says

    I still occasionally get, “People die” and frankly, being more than tired of that bullshit, I reply, “Are you volunteering to be next?”.
    Oddly, for some reason, they always want someone they don’t like or don’t know, but also wisely don’t express their heartfelt desire that I be the next one to pop off. I’m sure there’s a thought of personal safety involved in that conspicuous omission…

    Every action has an equal and opposite reaction, inaction simply allows that which is threatening to bowl you over.
    As I’m not a bowling pin, I’ll continue to take action to prevent.
    Which reminds me, I need to check on availability of the newest version of the vaccine…

  15. chrislawson says

    Rene@15–

    First Dog on the Moon often has an asterisk in the panels that refers to an unasterisked comment at the bottom of the comic. It took me a while to realise that this is a bit of an idiosyncratic artist’s tic.

  16. torcuato says

    Frankly, I think that fourth panel is disingenuous. I also teach at a 4-year college. I deal with around 90 students per semester. I’ve always followed my state’s directives, but I stopped taking any special precautions right after I got my first two shots back in April 2021. I stopped wearing masks anywhere indoors as soon as it was allowed by the state/establishments I started teaching all my classes in-person as soon as my college let me. Further, I started teaching without a mask and not requiring my students to wear one as soon as my college let me. I hold office hours in my small office with neither me nor the student(s) wearing masks. I have taken several trips including one last week, maskless in a plane. I’ve been attending social events, gone to breweries, eating out (indoors), gone to the movies. And guess what? I’ve never had Covid either (that I know of). Some might say I’ve been lucky. On the other hand, I might say that people like PZ have been unnecessarily cautious. These are just anecdotes. It is very disingenuous to say “I didn’t get Covid because…”

  17. torcuato says

    @10 rorschach You are very conveniently forgetting the other psychological and social effects. Like people’s deteriorating mental health because of lockdowns and isolation. Like the effects on children’s social development because of the short-sighed policies of school closings. Like the loss of people’s livelihoods because of the unnecessary restrictions on some businesses. I could go on and on.
    As for your government’s evaluation of the effect of masks that you ridicule, could you please show me a single study that shows that mask wearing makes any difference? I mean, a population study, not studies made in a lab with mannequins wearing masks, or computer simulations. I suggest that you read the recent NY Times article Why Masks Work but Mandates Haven’t.

  18. John Morales says

    torcuato:

    Some might say I’ve been lucky. On the other hand, I might say that people like PZ have been unnecessarily cautious.

    But on the gripping hand?

    (You do get those two things aren’t mutually exclusive, no?)

    You might also care to consider the cost/benefit of overcaution vs undercaution.

    (You know, my grandpa never wore a seatbelt, and he didn’t die in a car accident. Some might say he’d been lucky)

  19. John Morales says

    torcuato:

    @10 rorschach You are very conveniently forgetting the other psychological and social effects.

    And you are likewise forgetting the effects of the waves of the sick; the decrease in production due to sickness, the supply chain issues, the hogging of medical resources, and so forth.

    (Dunno about psychological, but they sure have social effects)

  20. says

    torcuato @ #19:

    could you please show me a single study that shows that mask wearing makes any difference?

    Also torcuato @ #19:

    I suggest that you read the recent NY Times article Why Masks Work…

  21. StevoR says

    @torcuato @ #19 : “could you please show me a single study that shows that mask wearing makes any difference?

    Sure :

    https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2776536

    During the pandemic, the scientific evidence has increased. Compelling data now demonstrate that community mask wearing is an effective nonpharmacologic intervention to reduce the spread of this infection, especially as source control to prevent spread from infected persons, but also as protection to reduce wearers’ exposure to infection.

    See also :

    https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/science/science-briefs/masking-science-sars-cov2.html

    A large, well-designed cluster-randomized trial in Bangladesh in late 2020 found that surgical or cloth mask distribution, role-modeling, and active mask promotion tripled mask use to 42.3% in intervention villages compared to 13.3% in comparison villages. In villages receiving mask interventions, symptomatic seroprevalence of SARS-CoV-2 was reduced by approximately 9% relative to comparison villages. In villages randomized to receive surgical masks, symptomatic seroprevalence of SARS-CoV-2 was significantly lower (relative reduction 11.1% overall). The results of this study show that even modest increases in community use of masks can effectively reduce symptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infections. (COVID-19).

    Plus :

    https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-02801-8

    To be clear, the science supports using masks, with recent studies suggesting that they could save lives in different ways: research shows that they cut down the chances of both transmitting and catching the coronavirus, and some studies hint that masks might reduce the severity of infection if people do contract the disease.

    There you go. There’s three studies or at least reasonable sources with real scientific info for ya. Only took me a few minutes searching via Google too. Don’t you have that?

  22. rorschach says

    I’m not familiar with this torcuato hyperskeptic, but I’ve just done 2.5 years of pandemic socmed and 15 years of Pharyngula, so I will not fall for the “genuine request for studies” approach.
    We knew masks work 50 years before Covid, we knew they had no adverse effects, or hundreds of thousands of operating theatre staff who wear them 10 hours every day for decades around the world had shown some signs of damage by now.
    Educating hyperskeptics is bound to fail. They do not want to be educated, not unlike creationists. Actually, same thing really.

  23. KG says

    Like the effects on children’s social development because of the short-sighed policies of school closings. Like the loss of people’s livelihoods because of the unnecessary restrictions on some businesses. I could go on and on. – torcuato@19

    I’m sure you will, just as evolution-deniers, climate-change-deniers, holocaust-deniers etc. all do. But it won’t make your bleatings any less stupid. Countries that took effective measures to control the spread of Covid back when there were no vaccines, no treatments, and less contagious but more virulent variants of SARS-CoV-2 and hence have had lower Covid death-rates have done better economically than those that did not. And school closings undoubtedly saved many teachers’ lives (as well as some children’s) – but I guess you feel they should have been sacrificed.

  24. KG says

    Further to #26, the fact that the Omicron variant is less likely to kill people or cause immediate grave illness is undoubtedly a factor in the dangerous complacency both among governments and the general public. Omicron, and particularly the latest subvariants BA.4 and BA.5, are also far more contagious than earlier variants, and able to reinfect the same person after a few weeks. And evidence is emerging that Omicron reinfections may be as likely to lead to serious andor long-term problems as the first infection – that there may be no detectable increase in immunity to serious or long-term illness.

  25. Silentbob says

    @ 24 StevoR

    Boom! Stevo knocks it out of the park – love to see it. :-)

  26. Silentbob says

    Although I should probably say ‘hits it for six’ to be culturally sensitive.

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