News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

We cannot win ‘war against COVID’

It’s perfectly OK if some people contract COVID.

There, I said it. Someone needs to say it. Heck, a lot of people need to say it out loud so that the collective mentality can evolve around this disease.

Hold on! Don’t get all riled up. I said that it’s OK for some people to get COVID. Not everyone.

Sure, COVID poses a mortal threat to a certain percentage of our population. My 90-year-old grandmother may not make it to her next birthday if she got food poisoning, so she should definitely avoid contracting COVID. My 68-year-old mother has Type 2 diabetes and some other health conditions that make her a pretty good target for COVID as well. It’s possible that if she contracted COVID, then she may witness a lengthy hospital stay or may eventually become a victim of COVID.

My grandmother and my mother are two lovely ladies who should take daily health precautions (washing hands, etc.) to avoid infectious diseases, and they should certainly get a COVID vaccine as soon as possible. Once readily available, I suspect that we will treat the COVID vaccine in the same manner that we do the flu vaccine, and those who choose to do so will get their annual shot (and yes, I realize it’s not a flu, it’s not a cold — but it is a virus).

Unfortunately, society has drunk a strange Kool-Aid served up by policy makers who have focused on herd immunity, primarily through vaccination, as the only solution to “winning the war against COVID” and as a requirement to returning to something resembling normal daily life.

Please read this next sentence very carefully and then repeat it to yourself and those around you: We cannot win a war against COVID.

Herd immunity is unlikely to be achieved for even a short period of time. It is highly likely that this disease will be a part of most of our lives for the distant future because, like it’s closest viral relatives, the common cold, it mutates quickly. You have likely read stories by now about COVID variants popping up around the globe. Today’s vaccines will probably be ineffective next year and may be replaced annually by new vaccines that would be effective against new variants.

Now that vaccines are becoming available, I feel that we should focus our efforts and public health messaging to ensure that vulnerable people such as the elderly, immune-compromised, and people with serious pre-existing health conditions have the opportunity to become vaccinated.

Afterward, there is no reason that society should not be able to return to “life as usual” before COVID.

Politicians and policymakers will cater to our collective thinking and create policies to make themselves popular so that they can get your vote. It became popular to fight and win the war on COVID. The manner in which this war has been carried out is having a disastrous effect on the economy and on people’s abilities to work in order feed their families. While people stay holed up in their homes ordering their livelihoods off of Amazon, businesses close their doors daily — and permanently.

The war on COVID sounds like valiant effort and a brave fight to win, but sadly the war is mere fiction. Furthermore, any fight to be won against COVID requires money, real money produced through a healthy economy and an influx of tax dollars.

Let’s change our thinking and dialogue around COVID so that we witness progressive policy change that protects the right people and witnesses the return to the “old normal” — except with an annual COVID shot at your local pharmacy.


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