How can this pandemic end? You had to scroll to the end of a small Wall Street Journal story about India yesterday to get a sense of what could stop this scourge: herd immunity.
Right now, about two-thirds of Indians have antibodies against the virus, the Journal says, quoting the Indian Council of Medical Research. Only about 6% of the population is fully vaccinated.
That leaves 400 million people who will most likely get COVID unless they are vaccinated because the easily spread Delta version can only be stopped by being vaccinated.
At this pace it will take only a few months before everyone in India either has been vaccinated or infected, with many dying from the disease.
But at that point COVID will run out of lives to take. This same process is working its way around the globe.
In many cases, like India or Brazil, the morbidity rate will be very high.
In the United Kingdom, the government is betting that everyone will be vaccinated or get the illness and that there will be lower morbidity rates. That, I believe is why they are saying they are wide open for business.
In our country? Uniquely we are a nation divided between those who are rabid to take the vaccine and those who are not. The vaccine is still on an emergency use basis by the FDA. I have no idea why that is possible given that they are willing to approve a Biogen (BIIB) Alzheimer's drug of little efficacy, according to a 10% advisory panel that voted unanimously against, but not designate these incredible vaccines for approval for regular use. That rogue decision alone has caused many people to rebel against taking it.
Regardless, the virus will find you and because it is so virulent you will almost certainly get it if you are not vaccinated. Yes, it's as close to a sure thing as possible.
Now let's consider the two camps.
The people who are vaccinated have little fear to go out and about.
The people who are not vaccinated seem to have equally as little fear with the almost universal justification being that they don't want to be told what to do, especially when they think they will get sick either way. They believe the virus won't kill them because we know now how to treat it and they don't want to get jabbed if they will end up feeling sick anyway.
The twisted logic of all of this was well on display in my tweeter feed where one particularly moronic poster said that the virus is no worse than the flu and it is unconstitutional for me to demand that people take it.
First, last I checked neither Jefferson nor Madison put in the constitution a provision saying I can't speak my view. They actually have a First Amendment that gives me that right. Moreover, no one wants either COVID or the traditional flu, which kills tens of thousands of people a year. The difference is that there is an ineffective vaccine against the regular flu and a very effective one against COVID. Yet I would bet there are plenty of people who would take the ineffective flu vaccine but somehow think that the COVID vaccine is evil.
There's a word for people who feel like that: idiots.
Nevertheless, given the speed of the Delta variant, it will cut its swath through the states which have many anti-vaxxers and they will either be vaccinated and mostly do fine or unvaccinated and get sick, perhaps asymptomatically or perhaps lethally. No matter, once sick you will most likely have the antibodies not to get sick again.
How do we know something like this is possible? Because that's what happened with the Spanish flu in 1919. It infected 500 million people, about a third of the world and killed between 20 and 50 million. It stopped only after it ran its course and either killed you or you developed immunity.
I am beginning to think that's what we face here. This morning Dr. Scott Gottlieb, former head of the FDA, said on CNBC that Delta is so contagious that we could see its peak in just a few months. Judging by what's happening in India I think it could be faster than that.
It's a way for the pandemic to end but a terrible way. We could stop it in this country by taking the vaccine but it now looks like we will stop it by either taking the vaccine or getting the disease and hoping for the best.
It's a 1919 like ending, but it's an ending nonetheless.