The Off-Rampers Need to Get Specific, or Else Just Shut Up

As I noted yesterday, there has been a rising tide of ‘we need to live with COVID’ articles, which are full of vague statements, such as what is an acceptable level of it (often incorrectly referred to as endemism). As some asshole with a blog noted a few weeks before Omicron blew up*:

Over the last couple of weeks, there have been several articles discussing COVID ‘off ramps’, that is, when and how will we decide to (start to) return to ‘normal.’ What I find depressing about most of these articles is that most seem to have not learned a damn thing over the last twenty months. We need an approach grounded, not in some pundit’s instincts–because that worked really well when too many of them were acting as if the pandemic was over in March and April 2021–but in what is an acceptable level of disease. And we need good metrics for that acceptable level so we can have clear guidelines.

For me, there are two metrics we should be using: the percentage of the total population that is vaccinated, and the prevalence of infections (i.e., how many people are infected).

…we shouldn’t really consider lowering our guard until 85% of the entire population is fully vaccinated.

So if we were to set a prevalence level of 1-2 new cases per 100,000 people per day, that would be good.

I described in that post how I reached those estimates. Importantly, I described what I thought would be an acceptable disease burden–and that included long COVID (which, if published reports are believed to true, the Biden White House isn’t even factoring into its analyses**). But Thinky Thought Leaders, Substack Bois et alia need to stop talking in generalities–something they would never do, for example, regarding economic issues–and start owning their own propaganda.

What is the acceptable amount of illness? What is an acceptable number of long COVID cases? What is an acceptable number of deaths? Regarding the latter, in D.C., over the last month, 21% of deaths were among the vaccinated. That doesn’t mean vaccination is bad, but there are vulnerable people and what is the acceptable price in their lives?

Admittedly, most Thinky Thought Leaders and Substack Bois are numerically illiterate in so many ways and would have a hard time doing this, but they really need to own their shit, and start talking about how much American Carnage is acceptable.

Though they should probably wait a few weeks.

*Though we were already starting to lose control of Delta.

**I would argue the primary concern for those who can afford to miss work is long COVID, which as best as I can tell, occurs in around one percent of vaccinated people. Again, if off-the-record reporting is correct, many in the White House think we’re ninnies to worry about this (and for the love of God, why are they listening to David Fucking Leonhardt?).

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10 Responses to The Off-Rampers Need to Get Specific, or Else Just Shut Up

  1. Charles K says:

    Thanks for this! You ask, “what is the acceptable price in their lives?” Good question! The answer, though, should be broken out by class. I almost never see serious consideration of the class of those who don’t get vaccinated, who gets ill, who ends up in the ER, or who dies. What I sense is that that many of the pundits and almost all of the governors don’t care what happens to those in the lower 50% of the class hierarchy. Thus “Off-ramping” is made into the thing to do.

  2. AndrewJ says:

    It’s funny (“funny”) that two years in, there’s still data out there that confirms whatever one wants to, or has been primed to, believe. It seems you drink deeper from the pool of the NYT and the WaPo than I do, and you’re getting the impression that Long Covid is going to shower up on the order of 1% of the population, and it will be dependent on vaccination status. Meanwhile I read much more Covid-leery and less mainstream sources, still with abundant links to preprints and accepted papers, tweets and interviews with qualified medical professionals, and I’m hearing long Covid potential incidences of 10, 20, 30% of all infected, not just symptomatic, and vaccination status – with the advent of Omicron – having very little to do with the likelihood of developing post-acute sequelae. Lately I am reading of T cell derangement and Lewy body formation in the brains of infected macaques (ALL the infected macaques. Wow!). I’m getting the impression that getting Covid, regardless of vaccinated vs boosted vs not – is bad, bad, bad, and given that prior infection and/or infection wanes and leaves you vulnerable to reinfection on the order of months, our bodies are accruing damage with every infection.
    Anyone who believes that, though, would be highly concerned about the “vax and let ‘we rip” strategy that our national leadership and their media keep pushing for.

  3. jrs says:

    And I’m hearing more and more that vaccines with boosters protect against long covid. Yea, it’s becoming impossible to navigate.

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  5. Pelham says:

    I’ve seen reports that Long Covid occurs in anywhere from 10% to 57% of all Covid victims, though I don’t know the particular percentage for the vaccinated. However, those overall numbers combined with the current rate of vaccination suggests a substantially higher figure than 1%.

  6. Sellers says:

    Well, we’ve lived with influenza for decades and found the death rate acceptable. Influenza and the resulting pneumonia seem to run around 55,000 deaths/year in the US. We had about 350,000 COVID19 deaths in the US in 2020. So it seems we’re still running a little hot.

  7. Sara K. says:

    About a year ago, my mother said that an ‘acceptable’ level of covid deaths (by ‘acceptable’ she meant she would be willing to relax most anti-covid precautions) is when covid deaths are equal to or below flu deaths in a year with an average flu season. Covid deaths are still much higher than that, therefore my mother is still strongly in favor of taking precautions, even at the expense of other things she wants.

    That is still the most reasonable definition of ‘acceptable’ level of covid I’ve encountered, and it is measurable.

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