Omicron is highly contagious, but has far lower rates of associated hospitalization and death. By one estimate it is essentially 3 times deadlier than the standard flu, which is bad, but modest compared to previous variants of Covid-19. The vaccines, especially the mRNA vaccines, appear to help a lot towards further mitigating the cost of infection. That all said, there’s no reason to yet be confident it precludes one from “long Covid” symptoms, many of which are moderately terrifying to a relatively healthy person such as myself.
But, after being vaccinated and begging everyone in your life to get vaccinated, is there anything else we can do at this point? There is a cost-benefit analysis happening in all of our heads now, and many of us who were stridently in the “isolate at home and wait until the vaccine miracle arrives” camp got our miracle, only to find out other people were…less enthusiastic. Then Omicron showed up and it started to feel like the only options are to either return to home isolation (perhaps even more strictly than before) or just accept that you’re going to get it.
I don’t know the answer to this question, but as I sit here, wondering if any body ache or cough is the beginning of “my turn” with Covid, there isn’t the fear or rage I would have previously expected. Just a quiet resignation, a hope that my to-do-list doesn’t grow to unmanageable proportions while I am down, and a gratitude that my entire family (in the broadest possible definition) is vaccinated and boosted.
The road here has been long and dumb, but it also might be near the end. Not because we won, but because we’ve arrived at a point where more people will survive their bad decision-making while imposing a far smaller cost on the rest of us than before. Which is fine, I guess.
But is it? Or have we just let the experience of the last two years beat down our expectations to the point where we’ll willing to accept an endemic version of mild Covid and move on with our lives? You’d think the main take away would be that mankind has arrived at a point where we can make a bespoke vaccine in 18 months (it probably should be), but in all honesty I find our incredible innovation less shocking than how easily grotesque anti-science fictions have become not just limits on public health, but bonafide popular campaign strategies, rigid spines capable of supporting functioning political coalitions. Angry, dangerous people have found each other, found community, and many very ambitious people have figured out how to speak directly to them. I don’t see any way that isn’t a problem going forward.
I remain more optimistic than pessimistic with regards to our global future, but I can’t shake the feeling that this particular denouement to the pandemic should be viewed cautiously in how it portends for the near future.