Lessons Learned from COVID
The real question isn't to vaccinate or not, it's to self-isolate or not: do we want to end the pandemic or do we want to live with it?
China's COVID journey:
Our COVID journey:
Everyone wants to get back to socializing and normalcy, but the way we've dealt with COVID has been a complete disaster and because of how we're dealing with it we're creating new variants and prolonging the existence of the virus to the point that it may be with us forever.
Take a look at our response to COVID compared to other nations:
The column "Tot Cases/ 1M pop" tells the story well, against nations with comparable or greater population we have over x5 the cases. We're the nation with the highest number of active cases in the world at ~5 million active cases, and worse yet, our impatience with vaccines and the lift on mandates to wear masks have recently caused a resurgence of COVID cases.
Where did we go wrong? How can Pakistan have only 3.2% of their population vaccinated, but have 5% of the number of cases we have?
We have almost 50% of the nation vaccinated, but COVID rates are resurging. Why?
Probably because we don't understand that even with the vaccine, you can still get COVID, that our desire to socialize is costing us, and how as a nation we're split on all sorts of matters ranging from politics, to sports, and now to the divide between the vaccinated and non-vaccinated.
China was able to unify as a nation and do what they needed to in order to secure a better future and end their pandemic, but we're terrible at working together and unifying on important decisions and situations that require everyone's cooperation. Having opposing opinions is fine, differences in ways of doing things are a part of life, but if we're incapable of unifying when situations require us to our collective futures aren't bright.
How to Unify?
Finding common ground starts from setting aside our differences and looking at the big picture. Vaccinated people have their reasons for arguing for the non-vaccinated to vaccinate. Non-vaccinated people also have their reasons for not vaccinating. If we don't care about the quality of reason and just accept that there are reasons from both sides, we reach an obvious standstill. The only way to resolve a standstill is to look at the bigger picture to find a better resolution.
What is that bigger picture?
It doesn't matter if people vaccinate or not as long as they are contributing to keeping COVID contained of which getting vaccinated is one way, wearing a mask is another way, and self-isolating is the most effective way.
The real problem is that we prematurely relaxed mandates when we were close to the finish line, but not there yet. If we don't trust people to exercise their sound judgment to be safe during a pandemic and require them to wear masks, then why would we trust people to exercise their sound judgment and wear masks if they aren't vaccinated (and even if they are vaccinated)?
Young adults are motivated by fitting in Western society. Previously, if you were outside and didn't wear a mask, you didn't fit in. Now, if you go outside and you're wearing a mask, you don't fit in. If you're older, this doesn't matter, but the largest group that hasn't vaccinated yet falls into the young adult category.
If we're trying to motivate young adults to stop the spread of COVID, we have to realize that the currency involved isn't necessarily following the rules, but following the crowd.
By lifting the mandate on masks, authority figures communicated incorrectly that the battle against COVID was winding down and basically over.
The truth is:
- COVID rates lowered dramatically, but new cases were not finished.
- The vaccine doesn't protect from all strains of COVID and wearing a mask would still be beneficial
- We did not reach "herd-immunity" rates of vaccination and could have kept waiting for that before lifting the mandate on masks.
Moving forward, we have to let people evaluate their own risks and make the appropriate decisions for themselves - we can't look at vaccination rates as the metric for how well we're doing against COVID; we have to look at safe practices that people are adopting and how the covid rate has lowered (of which vaccinating is one method, but not the only). The vaccine gave a lot of false hope that the end was near and caused a surge of impatience and poor decision-making that caused COVID rates to raise. If we want to get rid of this pandemic we have to self-isolate: it's the only real solution and China's response to the pandemic is a prime example.
The problem with America is that we want to end the pandemic and be able to socialize, but we can only do one thing at a time. Until we can unify on choosing one over the other, we'll be focusing on the wrong problems like who's vaccinated and who's not. A divided nation can't accomplish anything together, so let's get on the same page first by
- not alienating people into in-groups and out-groups
- re-establishing safe practices in relation to COVID (and realize that being vaccinated doesn't mean you can't get COVID)
- deciding whether we want to try to end the pandemic OR re-establish a new normal with COVID always in existence.
Major news sources consider "breakthrough" cases to be extremely rare, but a more local news source is stating that out of "71 percent of the cases found among Massachusetts are “predominantly symptomatic”. 69 percent of affected individuals are fully vaccinated." Source: https://boston.cbslocal.com/2021/07/24/provincetown-covid-cluster-cases-delta-variant/
That makes about 50% of the total new cases to be breakthrough cases. 50%!!!!!!!!!!!!! Unfortunately small sample size, but do we really want to get a bigger sample size? Getting vaccinated DOES NOT protect you from getting COVID. It protects you from dying to COVID. But what is our end goal for the nation? To end COVID or to simply not die from it?
Another article on breakthrough cases: https://www.wcvb.com/article/massachusetts-716-breakthrough-covid-cases-vaccinated-individuals/37083279#