The New Variant
Look, this news on the new variant isn’t ideal. I think we can all agree on that. But it’s also by no means surprising. The COVID-19 virus is going to be here forever. It’s not going to go away, at least not without an additional set of big medical advances. We have to get used to this. That means it is likely to continue mutating. Some of those mutations might be pretty bad! It’s still true that barring the unprecedented elimination of the virus, we are all going to get it at some point or another.
The issue is to manage the virus. There are all sorts of problems around this. First is the massive disinformation campaign led by Rupert Murdoch’s global media network and the other rich right-wingers who fund this. Second is the fact that western companies and governments are putting profits ahead of vaccinating the world. We can’t really solve the second entirely without solving the first, but we can do a lot more than we are doing. Unfortunately, these are intractable problems right now.
But what are you going to do? The thing YOU SHOULD NOT DO is freak out. First, why? There’s nothing you can do anyway. Second, we don’t even have any data on this thing. We have overheated news stories and eeyorism from those who never want to go outside again anyway. Maybe it is really bad. Maybe it is less bad. I don’t know. You don’t either. Let’s wait for the studies to figure it out! I thought we were supposed to “believe in science” around here. Maybe if you really believe that, do it. Get off the internet and just wait for the studies. We certainly aren’t going to stop this variant from spreading by banning flights from a few countries, not in a highly globalized and connected world. But if we can delay the spread a bit so we can have a better idea of what’s going on, then that makes sense. Third, doomscrolling is a counterproductive enterprise that leads to nothing good at all.
What strategies can we use to help move forward through a new variant? Not surprisingly, they are the common sense things the smart ones of us are already doing.
I’m being flippant here, but in all seriousness, if you’re vaccinated, if you’re masking in crowds, if you’re rapid testing before indoor holiday events, you’re doing what you can do. Doom scrolling won’t make it better.
— Maggie Koerth (@maggiekb1) November 26, 2021
Exactly! You just have to move forward. Maybe this variant makes the vaccines less effective. But less effective is different than not effective at all. Everyone over the age of 5 can be vaccinated. Let’s get them the shot! Let’s get everyone who has been vaccinated for six months the booster! The chances of the variant completely erasing the effects of the vaccine is probably pretty low. This is not March 2020 when who knows what is going to happen. We have amazing scientists working on this. It’s a global and international effort. Heck, South Africa alone has done a ton of great work here which is why we know what we know now. New boosters can be developed. Seems clear that more work needs to be done on the oral vaccination, but it’s still a positive development how far that is gotten.
I think the key here is to take a deep breath. Don’t go back into the house for the next 12 months. Just do the right thing the best you can, at least until we know more. If there’s a reason to totally isolate again, wait for the studies and health advice to do so. Moreover, just roll with the punches the best you can if you are fully vaccinated and can get your kids vaccinated. I am supposed to go to Italy in January. I am really excited about this! But maybe it doesn’t happen now. No reason to stress over it. If I can’t go to Italy, maybe I go see some graves and try some new breweries somewhere on a road trip. Whatever. In any case, there’s no point in constantly scrolling for the worst possible news. The news is bad enough without you just swimming in it. COVID isn’t going away. Probably ever. So you have to deal with that.