We’re just amidst the pandemic. Far from some kind of ending. At the same time, politicians and even stupid scientists demand for extensive ease of measures and even promise a ‘freedom day’ soon. It seems perfectly clear now: Science has delivered. As long as public health has been threatened by high rates of hospitalisations and deaths, politicians pretended to listen to the scientists and advisors. Even if there were wrong. It didn’t matter as long as the alleged majority of voters were on their side. Absolute numbers of hospitalisations are somewhat undeniable but the feared breakdown of the health care system could be camouflaged by infinitely free hospital beds. Given enough beds, the rate of infections could rise and rise, and the local and federal governments were not immediately forced to act. In contrast to these verifiable numbers, people with longcovid disappeared – either counting as “convalescent” or just vanishing from the surface. Long COVID is merely displayed as some random byproduct of the pandemic with seems to be dissociated from the burden of disease.
I wrote this piece in english because it’s not just a problem of Austria, it’s everywhere in western countries with a fatally wrong pandemic strategy.
“Used to describe the delusional belief that the pandemic is over and that we can get back to 2019 life by suppressing the fact that we need to keep innovating and fight the virus.” (Kristian G. Anderson, immunologist)
Now Omicron serves as the perfect excuse to preclude the pandemic ahead of schedule. Aside from some inner political affairs, most people are tired of wearing a mask, frequent testing or any other useful measures to curb the spread. People are done with it. Zero Covid never had a chance in western countries. Maybe, just maybe, some more people could have understood all the benefits of this strategy – especially if the government had reminded them of the comparatively quiet summer 2020. Instead, everyone wanted to delay another lockdown, and zerocovid countries have been constantly gaslighted since then. The media emphasized the restrictions instead of the success: Less deaths, less burden of disease, less collateral damage, merely economic loss, less orphans, less periods with closed schools or quarantine of children for weeks.
Science has delivered. Media, politics and pseudoscience declares the pandemic over although we know it isn’t true. The goal of preventing the breakdown of the health care system should have been changed in autumn 2020 to preventing the breakdown of the economical system due to the high burden of disease. The exclusive focus on hospitalisation and death now allows to sell disinformation to the public. Suddenly, it matters again if people are “with” or “because of” covid in hospital. It doesn’t really matter for hospitals who need to isolate noncovid patients from covid patients. And it’s wrong anyway, looking at the numbers:
Denmark effectively declared the pandemic over ~2 weeks ago, declassified the virus so it’s no longer a “critical disease”, and ended all restrictions. This is despite the fact that cases, hospitalizations, and test positivity are higher than ever – with deaths rapidly rising.
Yet, all of this is basically ignored by Danish media by now – mostly via:
1. Focusing on ICU numbers – which are stable, however, ignoring the fact that deaths are going up.
2. Endlessly focusing on “with COVID” vs “for COVID”, ignoring the fact that it’s all “COVID”.
As I have said previously, I disagree with the Danish approach, but choosing a strategy is far from easy. However, whatever the strategy, it *must* be based on realistic expectations and not delusion – sadly, the strategy in Denmark is based on the latter.
The issue is that if we simply declare the pandemic over – when that is very much not the case – we stop innovating and fighting, which will only prolong the pandemic and make it worse. We need to innovate our way out of this – better vaccines, drugs, masks, tests, and systems!
Sounds familiar? Look at the numbers of Austria!
What we can clearly see is that rate of hospital admissions is rising again, and only a smaller part of it happens due to incidental confirmation of covid19 during admission. Even if so, Covid19 could worsen the reason for which the patient has been originally admitted to the hospital. We see also a rise in deaths which is now clearly due to the ongoing OMICRON wave. Another country, Israel, already regretted to open too soon. Denmark and Israel serve as ideal examples that neither high vaccination rates nor triple or quadruple vaccination are sufficient to end the pandemic. We know this for over a year now.
It is all wrong and inexcusable
“The Imperial study shows that omicron is not less severe for hospitalisations in children under ten compared to delta- and you’ve let it spread to the highest levels *ever* seen in an unvaccinated population of children with no protections in classrooms. That is your legacy.”
(Deepti Gurdasani, epidemiologist)
I’m still writing despite I know the people I want to read it will not read it.
Yes, even virologist Drosten recently said we all need multiple infections to built up a broad immune response to cover all variants and probably future variants as well (we don’t that for a fact, though). I wouldn’t dare to contradict a highly reputated and experienced virologist in my capacity as a meteorologist. I wouldn’t question his statements and I don’t want to give the impression I just cherrypick even with Drosten. He also said better no infection but in the case of infection, being triple vaccinated will help. So let’s rather ask some questions or express some concerns:
- The vaccination rate with children is low, with below 25% under 15 years. Toddlers under 5 are only vaccinated off-label and very sporadically. People with a weak immune response due to serious preconditions or age have only limited protection against severe disease. Monoclonal antibodies nearly fail against OMICRON subvariant BA.2 and the promising antiviral drug Paxlovid needs several months for mass production.
- Long covid risk still exists in the case of breakthrough infection, even if the vaccine does reduce probability and length of persistent illness. Exact numbers are unknown, though, especially for OMICRON. We know, however, that breakthrough infections even in triple vaccinated people can cause nasty symptoms – and long covid can develop even in formerly asymptomatic patients.
- Covid19 will be the greatest mass disabling event since the 1918 flu. Direct consequences are already visible with rising sick leaves and staff shortage. However we know from SARS-CoV1 that longterm disease may surface not before 5-10 years. Shouldn’t we be more careful? Isn’t this what all this public health crap is about?
- Is it ethically true to say, it’s sufficient to avoid hospitalisation and death which mainly concerns people at enhanced risk which should get the antiviral drugs? Or is long covid a sufficient reason to receive the drug as well? One may not die due to covid but longcovid could come at great costs – losing the job, getting poor, losing everything.
- We don’t return to endemic normality but head into dystopia. If we invest in ventilation and filtration we could also reduce the number of every future airborne pathogen. Covid, RSV, influenza, even the common colds. And air pollution. We could only win. Instead we will have another pathogen to co-exist besides the seasonal viruses. And Covid19 is not the flu, it is able to damage the whole body including the brain. Nobody would like to take several hits in order to find out if he actually enhanced his immunity or is now at risk for diabetes or alzheimer’s.
Named all these concerns and hints, it’s not over. New variants will develop and given the high contagiousness of SARS-CoV2, it will rapidly move around the globe. In the wished for endemic state, all measures are gone – and we’re already heading this way – and the spread will be even more rapid than now. New variants could undermine the efficacy of vaccines and antiviral drugs. The adaption of pharmazeutical response to covid infection would come too late, as we already see with the need for an omicron variant specific booster. We will put all people at enhanced risk who couldn’t develop sufficient antibodies or couldn’t be vaccinated indefinetely. And even if do not really care about vaccination deniers, their children are not responsible for their parents being assholes. And their children could still transmit the disease to children at risk, or having parents at risk. We simply cannot exlude some unwanted groups of our society and pretend it would be only their problem. We’re all part of the same world. We depend on eachother.
I can’t pretend we’re friends again
As I wrote my first fact check of the former public hell chief Franz Allerberger in October 2020, I was already pissed off by the behavior of some people in my surroundings. I couldn’t understand why so few people actually listened to science. I saw the prevention paradoxon unfolding in summer 2020. The pandemic seemed to be over. Later on, when pseudoscientists poisoned the public debate about the return of the mask and social restrictions, a lot of people I valued before and thought of them intelligent enough fell victim of Allerberger great barrington thinking.
“We will all die at some time.”
“Surely he had an underlying condition?”
“Only old people will die – and they would have died anyway.”
“The poor children are blamed for driving the pandemic.”
“Do you want lockdowns forever?”
“Unvaccinated should have no right to occupy a free bed in hospital.”
I could go on but I think you get this certain mindset of “old and sick people die, children are not at risk and the rest should live like before”
Now, two years later, I’m still writing although I’m frustrated, sad and angry at the same time. I lost. We lost. All the great science, the rapid invention of effective vaccines, the discover of aerosol transmission and how we could (easily) prevent it, all of it has been in vain. We could have made the world a better place to live – instead we made it a place of lost future. And I’m merely referring to climate crisis. I took the influenza vaccine the second season in a row – a late bloomer. I just underestimated the risk of influenza and didn’t think about transmitting it to people at risk, too. During the last two years I happened to meet (online) a lot of people with underlying conditions I do care for now – which means I can’t accept this dystopia where healthy people will continue their lives as if nothing ever happened, and people with serious pre-existing conditions or new chronic illness like longcovid/mecfs will suffer from a world where infection is everywhere – they couldn’t even go to the doctor or hospital safely as they could become infected there.
A lot of people disappointed me in the last couple of months. They do not seem to care for weak and sick people. They only care for themselves, for going to the restaurant, to have some beers. They displayed their constant reluctance to wear a mask, to wear it tight, to test frequently and they do not want to accept that a low relative risk for children still means a significant absolute number of severely ill children. Therefore it’s inacceptable to let the virus rip through the population. I can’t pretend everything’s fine now and we could drink a beer again and talk to each other, knowing they would throw people at risk under the bus on the first occusion.