When the COVID-19 pandemic first began, in late 2019 and early 2020, there was a thought that maybe we could contain it — isolate the people who were sick, trace their contacts, and put them in quarantine, and the disease wouldn’t be able to spread. Other emerging diseases had fizzled out in the past, like COVID’s cousin SARS. There was good reason to hope that most of us would never catch a whiff of the coronavirus.
But that’s not what happened. That plan had too many holes in it — including the fact that COVID can spread before a person starts showing symptoms, which nobody knew at the time — and it seems safe to assume that the new coronavirus is here to stay. Early in 2020 it was already obvious that we couldn’t eradicate this virus; we had to assume everybody would be exposed to it sooner or later.
Exposed doesn’t mean everybody will personally contract the virus
There are still people who claim we should all be prepared to catch COVID, and that’s just not realistic. The Orange County Register, for example, published a piece entitled “Vaccinated or not, everyone is likely to get COVID-19 at some point, many experts say.” But only one of the six experts they surveyed actually said something like that. All agreed that we have to be prepared to be exposed to the virus, but not that we should resign ourselves to catching it.
The vaccine (mostly) works
Remember, we have three good vaccines in the U.S., and there are several other effective vaccines in use around the world. It will take more time and work and data to get everybody vaccinated, but it’s important to note that the vaccines work. Even with Delta circulating, all three of our vaccines are more than 70% effective against symptomatic infection, and effectiveness against hospitalisation and death is over 90%, according to this recent summary of the evidence from Yale Medicine.
A defeatist attitude is going to get people killed
Remember when the optimistic thing to say was that maybe we all got COVID in the winter of 2019 and were fine? Know how there are still people saying they aren’t worried about a virus with a “99%” survival rate? Not only is the survival rate not quite that rosy, the virus’s spread has already killed 700,000 Americans, or about 1 of every 5 of us. Far more are living with long COVID, another condition that vaccines can prevent.
Often the idea that “we’re all going to get COVID” is an excuse to drop safety precautions. If we’re all going to get it anyway, why bother with masks? Why bother getting a vaccine? But we know that masks work to reduce transmission, and vaccines work to save lives and to reduce transmission (because the fewer people get sick, the fewer people are able to spread the virus).
As a parent, I need people to not give up yet. My kids are still vulnerable to the virus, although I’m hopeful that they’ll be able to get their vaccines in the coming months. In the meantime, I don’t want people with defeatist attitudes coughing all over them. You, too, can protect your loved ones by taking protections from this virus seriously.