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Now that the COVID-19 vaccines are here, it’s time to celebrate the beginning of the end of this plague, right? Not so fast. The media and expert classes seem determined to make permanent the pandemic’s abnormal way of life.
In December, a New York Times piece, “Here’s Why Vaccinated People Still Need to Wear a Mask,” kicked off the perma-gloom. Vaccinated people will still need to wear masks, because those with high viral loads could be “even worse spreaders,” the paper quoted Dr. Yvonne Maldonado of the American Academy of Pediatrics.
“Even worse spreaders!” That’s horrible. It’s also horribly misleading. I know this, because I read the rest of the article.
The fear arises from studies on monkeys, which found that some vaccinated monkeys didn’t get sick but still carried the novel coronavirus in their noses.
But wait: “Those monkeys were intentionally exposed to massive amounts of virus and still had less virus than unvaccinated animals,” Weill Cornell virologist John Moore told the Times. Ah. Well, maybe don’t intentionally expose yourself to “massive amounts” of the virus, then.
A continual drumbeat of opinion keeps repeating that vaccination will change little or nothing. The new line is that we will be wearing masks indefinitely, and we should really be wearing more serious masks and certainly more than one.
“Masks are going to be with us for a really long time,” Elissa Schechter-Perkins, a Boston University physician, told Chalkbeat. “Especially because we know kids are not going to be vaccinated right away, and masks are a really strong protective measure.”
No, kids won’t be vaccinated right away. That’s in part because kids seldom contract COVID-19, very rarely have severe cases and aren’t major spreaders. Across much of Europe, kids under 12 don’t wear masks. Forcing 2-year-olds to wear them indefinitely is sheer American madness.
Meanwhile, Gavin Yamey, a professor of global health and public policy at Duke, urges people to wear N95 high-filtration masks under cloth masks.
Who decided that we should aim for a risk-free society? If two masks are better than one, why not three, four or five? Why not eight? For that matter, why don’t we reduce speed limits everywhere to 10 miles per hour indefinitely, a move that would dramatically reduce car accidents?
Some experts seem almost spiritually invested in forestalling a return to normalcy. So does the incoming Biden administration.
President-elect Joe Biden nominated Andy Slavitt as a senior adviser to his COVID-response team. Slavitt, who served as administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services during the last two years of the Obama administration, is notorious on Twitter for his extensive threads invariably pushing longer, harsher lockdowns.
As late as a few weeks ago, Slavitt was urging even less interaction for kids: “We should be more careful with kids. They should circulate less or will become vectors. Like mosquitos carrying a tropical disease. Of course, they can become sick themselves this way. I’m not sure what I would say about schools besides wishing Trump had built testing up.”
These mosquito kids have already had their development stunted for a year. Many haven’t been inside of a school building since March. They don’t have play dates with friends. Their needs are completely ignored by politicians who repeat “stay home” like a religious chant. And now the little mosquitoes are being told that a return to childhood normalcy isn’t a priority.
To repeat: No other country has decided to lock children in their homes, “for their own good,” in the face of all data showing kids are barely at risk from COVID-19 and transmit the virus at a lower rate than adults.
Hysteria is hard to fight, and the virus has exposed how it especially grips the intelligent and educated. We have to find a saner path forward; speculating that nothing will ever go back to normal is going to break people. These doom-mongering predictions need to be countered, before they become accepted wisdom.
We’re nearly over the hill. It’s time to turn down the volume on the voices who insist we never get over it.
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