What comes next
The future of Covid, medical and political
I spend a lot of time looking at the trees: What’s with infections in Britain? What are the newest myocarditis numbers?
Those stories are vital. A daily diet high on facts is the only way to face the propaganda campaign that has filled our airwaves and in-boxes since 2020.
But I want to step back, briefly, and imagine what will happen next.
We have reached a strange moment in Covid. The epidemic has now gone on longer than any flu epidemic - yet it shows few signs of easing.
Actually, that’s not true. In poor nations, Covid appears to have vanished as a problem, to the extent it ever was one. Even countries like India that had big Omicron waves didn’t have many deaths.
But wealthier countries now have extraordinary numbers of infections. Scotland just reported that 9 percent of its people were infected at once, equal to about 30 million Americans. All those infections are translating into lots of deaths, too. South Korea has suffered about half of ALL its Covid deaths this month.
Two obvious factors drive the difference between wealthy and poor countries.
First, rich countries have much older populations. Omicron is so mild that its only real risks are to very elderly people and a few middle-aged people who are morbidly obese or severely ill.
Second, wealthy countries decided to attack Covid with mRNA (and some DNA/AAV) “vaccine” shots whose risks are only now becoming apparent.
The traditional vaccines that poorer countries used have a simple rationale and design. They expose our immune systems to a weaker - or killed - version of a pathogen, to prime us for future infections by the actual pathogen. They work reasonably well against many viruses, though not against influenza (which should have been a huge warning sign).
The mRNA shots are far trickier in both theory and practice. Even had they worked as promised I would be forever shocked health authorities encouraged a billion people to receive them after a few months of testing.
But they haven’t worked as promised.
Now here we are.
Where do we go?
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Covid’s politics are increasingly confused.
Most people don’t want to think about Covid anymore. At Barclays Center - the 20,000-seat home to the Brooklyn Nets - this week, almost no one was wearing masks. I didn’t wear a mask on the subway either (I never have). I wasn’t alone, and no one said a word to me. People have other things to worry about on the New York City trains these days.
Even the most committed blue-state and blue-country Team Apocalypse stalwarts are nearly done with Covid. They are tired of scaring their kids and their parents. They can see Covid is not the Kryptonite against Republicans they hoped and will not lead to the trillion-dollar wave of social spending they expected. As Miranda Featherstone, a “writer and social worker” (writer/social worker is the new model/actress), opined in the New York Times today:
I’m Tired of Judging Other People’s Covid Choices
Who said you had to judge them in the first place, Miranda?
Meanwhile, support for mRNA jab mandates has crashed as quickly as the effectiveness of the shots themselves. Even the Germans have tabled their plans. Like New York’s subway riders, the good folks of Deutschland have bigger problems, like whether they are going to have enough natural gas come December. (Carbon fuels are only a problem until you don’t have them anymore.)
Many on Team Reality also want to be done. My friend Eugyppius argued two days ago that the only answer is to normalize Sars-Cov-2: we must insist that Corona is a seasonal respiratory virus that behaves like a lot of other seasonal respiratory viruses.
I think he’s wrong, for three crucial reasons.
First, Sars-Cov-2 is not the same as the flu or other cold-like coronaviruses. It is more contagious and dangerous to older people. The jump in all-cause mortality in 2020 (which cannot be blamed on vaccines, because they didn’t exist) doesn’t lie.
More contagious and dangerous does NOT mean we need to lock the world down, but it does mean we have to recognize the reality that Sars-Cov-2 is not merely another flu. Acknowledging that reality will also be crucial to powering the long battle to unearth the origins of the coronavirus.
Second, Eugyppius believes that downplaying Sars-Cov-2 is the only way to defang the public health bureaucrats and mega-donors and woke governments that locked down the world in March 2020.
I wish he were right. But I fear he has the causation reversed. The lockdown horse is out of the barn. Sooner or later, we will face another nasty respiratory virus, probably an influenza strain, even if we shut down every gain-of-function lab in China (how exactly would we do that, anyway? Ask Xi real nicely?).
The answer is not to play down Sars-Cov-2, but to argue first principles - that lockdowns are a mistake in almost any circumstance. After all, the world didn’t lock down in 1918 in the face of a virus far worse than Sars-Cov-2.
The manifest failure of the mRNA shots only makes the idiocy of lockdowns more clear. The lockdowns were meant to bridge us to the vaccines, but the vaccines don’t work, so all we did was mess up our kids and supply chains and societies for two years.
But the third and most important reason Eugyppius is wrong is not retrospective but prospective, and not political but medical. The epidemic is not over. Not in the countries that used the mRNA shots, anyway.
The shots have failed.
That failure doesn’t mean we’re back where we started. We don’t get a do-over. The shots have caused permanent immune system changes in the people who received them. That’s not a conspiracy theory. THAT’S WHAT THEY WERE DESIGNED TO DO, AND IT’S WHAT THEY DID.
We are still trying to figure out what those changes mean - and, equally importantly, how Sars-Cov-2 will respond to them. The enemy gets a vote, always. (Ask the Russian Army about that.)
I recognize the irony in the fact that I’m arguing this way, but I just follow the data. And the data are clear. The vaccines do not work against Omicron. They almost certainly increase its infectivity.
Do they increase its lethality? It’s hard to know, because Omicron is quite mild in general and because advanced countries have made some progress in treating Sars-Cov-2 (though it is already clear that Paxlovid is not the silver bullet anyone hoped when Pfizer unveiled its clinical trial results last fall. Shocker.)
Omicron’s mildness is a blessing. But we will face another Sars-Cov-2 variant, probably within months.
We cannot know how it will interact with the peculiar changes in the immune systems of people who have received the mRNA shots. Nor do we even fully understand what those changes are yet - how our T- and memory B-cells mature after vaccination and repeated Sars-Cov-2 challenge.
What we do know is that the variants that spread fastest going forward in Western countries will be the variants that optimize their survival to the mix of antibodies and cellular immunity the mRNA jabs produce. This is true almost by definition.
I strongly suspect that Western countries are - at least for the next year or two - going to see rolling waves of Sars-Cov-2 as new variants emerge. We will not have effective mRNA shots targeted at those variants. That promise has turned out to be another mirage. How can I be so definitive?
Check out the date on this press release about a new clinical trial for a Moderna booster: March 31.
Meantime, here’s Pfizer, promising a Delta booster last July.
Here’s Moderna again, on Omicron:
It could be. Then again, maybe not!
The companies simply cannot complete clinical trials fast enough to show that the variant-specific boosters have any actual clinical benefit - that is, that they reduce symptomatic infection, much less hospitalization.
And without those trials, even the dullest regulators seem disinclined to allow variant-specific boosters. On what basis? That they cause our immune systems to produce a somewhat different pool of antibodies than the original shots?
Thus waves of Covid infections will likely keep rolling through unless and until people build broader immunity to variants of Sars-Cov-2.
How long will that take? I don’t know. No one else seems to either. The answer depends in part on how quickly the virus mutates. Remember, we never build broad-spectrum influenza immunity, either naturally or through vaccines, because the flu changes so quickly. But it also depends on the changes the mRNA shots have wrought.
While we play peekaboo with these new variants, we’ll just have to hope that they aren’t deadlier than Omicron - or the original coronavirus.
Will they be? Who knows? Who can even guess?
You don’t have to believe me. Take it from some of the world’s foremost experts in viral evolution. Near the bottom of a New York Times opinion piece earlier this week called “Here’s Where We Think the Virus is Going,” they included this stunning line:
A matter of luck.
To reiterate. The mRNA shots don’t stop infection or transmission, we don’t know whether they interfere with the development of durable immunity post-infection, and whether the next variant is deadlier than Omicron is “mostly a matter of luck.”
Politically, none of this matters at the moment. The people who pushed the shots - in other words every Western government and the entire public health establishment and media - have zero incentive to admit that the roulette wheel is still spinning.
Their answer will be to make it harder and harder to track what’s happening. The Scots have already cut back on their reports on vaccine efficacy, and the English are about to follow. Our health systems have shown they can manage an Omicron-like level of transmission and lethality indefinitely without broad societal restrictions (just as, two years ago, they could have managed the original Sars-Cov-2 levels of transmission and lethality indefinitely).
No one will complain too much, either. Our fearless leaders are both reflecting and driving the public mood. Bari Weiss was done with Covid two months ago, and now Miranda Featherstone (best name ever!) is too. We are all Ukrainians now, or something, at least until gas gets to $10 a gallon.
Meanwhile the virus is out there, virusing.
Only now it has a nice fat billion-person target to chase.
So what happens next? I dunno.
Let’s all hope for the best.
The worst would not be good.