Thread: What's up with the Covid Dead Enders?
Does it seem like some people really don't want the pandemic to end?
Omicron’s hospitalization rate is a third to a half that of Delta. Of those who are hospitalized, the new strain sends patients to the ICU at half the rate and keeps them in hospital for half the duration of Delta. Because it’s so much more transmissible, in absolute numbers, it’s true that more people are being admitted to the hospital in this Omicron wave than ever before. But their cases are nowhere near as serious.
By all indications, we’re on our way toward the endemic phase of Covid-19. It’s long been clear that this is how it would likely end. The vaccines have saved countless lives, to be sure. But between tens of millions of people choosing not to get inoculated and the vaccines being far less effective than initially believed — particularly with regard to transmissibility and particularly with the emergence of Omicron — it’s been obvious to anyone paying close attention that the shots alone would not be our off-ramp from the pandemic.
What that off-ramp will more likely look like is the virus just becoming less and less central of a concern in our daily lives. It will remain a fact of life indefinitely, maybe even permanently, and will become, if anything, even more ubiquitous. But between the introduction of effective new treatments and the spread of a less deadly dominant strain, it will become less of a menace and more of a lingering nuisance to most people, even while remaining a serious concern for the elderly and immunocompromised.
From my vantage point, that seems to be what’s happening now. Every day I hear of someone else I know who has Covid, and yet I’m hearing this news from those who have caught it with a shrug rather than with grave consternation.
This is all good news, even if perhaps a bit anticlimactic to those who were hoping for an end that involved V Day parades in the streets. But that’s not how it’s being received, or at least not in my social media feeds (which, especially since the onset of the pandemic, have become not just proxies for but the damn near totality of many of our social existences).
Instead, I’ve seen something more inexplicable: anger. Among the left-of-center PMC class, there is annoyance to outright fury at any suggestion that the most disastrous part of the pandemic might be over. It’s like the inverse of the “This is fine” meme.
Some of it might just be that people are interpreting the facts differently than I am. I try not to chalk up to ignorance or malice what could be explained by good faith disagreement. One might look at the current Omicron numbers and see no way for hospitals to avoid being utterly overwhelmed this winter, forcing people to cancel life-saving procedures to make way for Covid patients. Or they might anticipate that the sheer level of circulation guarantees that new strains will emerge that will be as contagious as Omicron and even more deadly than Delta. These, in my opinion, are not very good arguments, but they’re not made in bad faith.
But I can’t help but feel like the volcanic reaction from some quarters to any opinion that falls short of proclaiming the sky’s inevitable fall is fueled by something more visceral than mere disagreement on the merits. I have no proof of this and I could be wrong, but it seems like some people have a pathological need for the pandemic to continue. I’ve thought a lot about what could explain it, and I’m at a loss. I don’t even have a hypothesis. So I thought I’d smell test it here.
Do you perceive from some people this weird, deep-seated desire for the pandemic to continue, as I do? As in, do you even know what I’m talking about?
Do you have a theory as to what could account for it?
By the way, you obviously don’t have to agree with my priors. If my presumption that the pandemic is slowly winding down (I’m speaking strictly in epidemiological terms here — the politics is a whole different story) is way off, say so (preferably with some evidence to show it).