Together

In a previous post, at the beginning of this outbreak, I had stated  that the experience of disasters often promotes social changes and the coming together of communities in order to help one another, as the presence of a common enemy, like this virus, reinforces the impression of being an active  part a community. And, this is how it started: together. Despite the shock, fears and heavy lockdowns, we all gathered singing together from our balconies, showing our rainbows of hope, hands together, brothers and sisters from all over the world saying: everything will end well. We truly believed so. I did. However, after almost  two years, not only the battle against Covid hasn’t ended yet, but that feeling of brotherhood seems to be lost. What went wrong?

After such a long time it is natural to feel psychologically worn out and restless. We all have the impression to have been caged in an invisible prison unaware of how many years we have ahead to serve this sentence. Pandemics have been a constant threat  in the history of man, and for centuries they have been tackled more or less in the same way: quarantines, social distancing, lockdowns. It  has also been very  similar the growing sense of dissatisfaction and intolerance with which people endured those restrictions in the long run, as despite all those measures, future was still shaky. Vaccines have constituted  the only solid difference from previous pandemics, our wild card, but it is exactly on this matter that the most insane radicalization in the perception of reality has happened.

A war between pro-vaxxers  and anti-vaxxers, whose tones and fury remind me of the religious fights of the 16th century, has broken out most violently and I am talking about religion on purpose, as during debates I notice that dogmatic approach to the question of vaccines, which  is  more typical of faith rather than science. The means of modern communication, I have to say, actually help our natural propensity to polarisation. We have got used in time to grabbing meanings quickly stopping at headlines, which are impactful on purpose, thus avoiding the effort of going beyond  the first paragraph of an article. This is how information becomes misinformation. Such superficial approach, in fact, tends to a simplification of the reality, which offers no different interpretation from:  black or white, pros or cons . Yet, “A truth is rarely pure and never simple” warned Oscar Wilde, but it cannot be denied that this approach has resulted  into a radicalization of opinions: you are with me or against me.

Politicians have made their good part in radicalizing the situation even more. At the beginning of this outbreak governments couldn’t but navigate by sight, trying to avoid the rock of an economic crisis and protect the health of people at the same time. We were still all together on that ship then. When vaccines were made available, things changed. Hailed as the panacea for any problem: the end to the state of emergency, school openings, the saving of global economy, lives and more, vaccines became totemic. It was at that point that the most unexpected turn in the narration of this pandemic from almost all governments took place: all of a sudden we were not all together against the ominous virus any longer, but those who refused to be vaccinated and those who questioned the totem were the new enemies, the scapegoats of any possible future failure.

In short, I , Mrs Tink – fully vaccinated – was relegated to the side of no-vaxxers, flat-earthers, virus deniers and such, because I am unable to read the reality as either 0 or 1. I don’t want to discuss science, I am not qualified, but I want only to make a point on what we know for sure on how these vaccines work today and draw a conclusion:

CERTAIN OUTCOMES 

 1. After 1, 2 even 3 jabs I can still be infected and pass on the disease, as vaccines do not provide full shield.

 2. People who were previously protected because of a prior infection can now be quite vulnerable to getting reinfected and passing on the disease.

POSSIBILE OUTCOMES

1. The vaccines’ protection against severe disease holds strong .

At this point I don’t think it is blasphemous to state that vaccines have not worked as hoped. Reports suggest that large indoor gatherings of fully vaccinated people can become super-spreader events, but governments, and Italian government in particular, keep  passing off responsibilities to the small minority, who has refused to get the jabs. All the others, who have been provided with a Green pass or Covid pass which allows free outdoor/indoor  circulation –  without the necessity of wearing masks – , have been told to be bulletproof, therefore, as far as we know now, free to catch and pass the disease all the same. This measure is particularly odious in Italy, as, if you are not vaccinated you are suspended from work, hence, our constitutional rights are at stake here.

And now it’s about Christmas. Just in time to “celebrate” yet another variant , which , as far as we know, compromises the effect of vaccines and most antibody therapies . We have been recommended to stay at home, avoid family gatherings with more than 6 people, wear masks, keep distanced etc. again . This Christmas, the same as last Christmas and, if governments don’t understand than we must fight this thing together, educating people rather than blaming them, the next too. Alone.

18 thoughts on “Together

  1. My mum and dad both got the virus despite being fully vaccinated. Due to their age, they were vaccinated early on, so their immunity had waned, and this was before the booster programme started. The same thing’s happened to loads of people I know. My friend recently caught it even though she’d had her booster jab. However, most people who’ve caught it after being vaccinated aren’t getting seriously ill – nearly 90% of people who are in hospital in the UK due to Covid are unvaccinated.

    • There are many weak points in the present situation: we are still navigating by sights and with a few certainties; the economic system cannot be stopped, hence, lockdowns must be avoided as much as possible; covid passes have proved boomerangs, as they have become in time passes to spread the virus according to recents studies; schools must be kept open, but it is clear that the virus finds its fertile ground in indoor places with many people. These last days before Christmas have been a nightmare: cases in all classes and among my collegues, many more than last year.

  2. Thanks for this insightful post. Binary thinking is something we really need to get beyond, but when we feel threatened and overburdened, we tend to oversimplify. I appreciate the chance to hear voices that are not so reductive and reactive.

  3. I started to read, but got the gist after reading a few sentences, so I stopped.

    I kid, of course.

    I’m not sure we can lay the polarization at the feet of the pandemic. Rather, the issues and divisions you mentioned were well established at least by 2015, and I would say earlier. I just re-read some of the posts from as far back as ten years ago and I was writing about the same things as my current concerns.

    Sure, it’s all more intense now as we’ve lost whatever modicum of respect, propriety, and self-censure we had. Both in our personal lives and in the public sphere (but, to be clear, it came from the public sphere) we now feel emboldened to announce whatever crazy notions we have because we gain confidence from a sizable portion of idiots … er … other well-informed people who agree with us. But that’s not because of the pandemic.

    In other words, I think the pandemic fell victim to an existing trend and not the other way around.

    I’m also disputing the statement “that vaccines have not worked as hoped” . . . well, I’m disputing it depending on what you mean.

    If you mean that the vaccines were supposed to get rid of COVID, I’ll say that vaccines on their own even as effective as they are, were never going to get rid of COVID. Some vaccines can make us immune for life, but the COVID virus vaccine is not one of them because of how COVID works (same with the flu). That’s not to say there aren’t promising avenues of research in the field of respiratory viruses, but we’re not there yet.

    If you mean that the vaccines were supposed to let us get back to some semblance of a normal life, then, yes, they have ‘failed’, but not because of the vaccines themselves, but rather a combination of human nature and all the other problem we face with propaganda, education, political animosity, social animosity, etc., etc.

    Reusing an example from one of my recent posts, it’s like when people fart and look for a dog to blame it on. It’s not the dog’s or the vaccine’s fault.

    I’m linking a Sam Harris podcast that I think is well worth listening to. Of course, the people who should listen to it, won’t. However, within it, one can find mucho grande information and a few suggestions in dealing with people reluctant to act and be smart. Even then, nothing can help fanatics who aren’t actually using reason when making decisions about vaccination, social distancing, masks, etc.

    Be aware the podcast is nearly three hours long. That alone will mean that only 1-in-50 (optimistically) or 1-in-100(realistically) people will give it a listen, but they should. Lots of good stuff in it covering all sorts of things.

    https://www.samharris.org/podcasts/making-sense-episodes/270-what-have-we-learned-from-the-pandemic

    • 3 hours? It will be my Christmas homework along with the “pride” stories. As for the vaccines, political propaganda here ( you should have heard Mario Draghi speak 😡 ) boasted that vaccines would have given full immunity. Then they gave a covid pass to those with 2 jabs (they still use the word “immunizzati” for them /us) to let people go to restaurants, cinemas …spend their money. But now we know that nobody is immune – as THEY said – after 1/2/3 jabs, nevertheless unvaccinated are suspended from work, even if they are tested every 2 days.
      COVID vaccines do not actually work as flu vaccines as, at least so far, you need 4 jabs a year, rather that one, to be reasonably protected.
      We’ve gone down into a very long tunnel, dear Emilio, but I see no light. Not yet.

    • Two years, according to the guy on the podcast, before he estimates we’ll reach a new “normal”, and that will likely mean yearly boosters.

      And yes, some of the “rules” and advisories don’t make much sense, as well they’re not likely to because proclamations by politicians are affected by the influence of various interests.

      That’s where one’s diligence comes in; listen to multiple sources, evaluate what makes sense, confirm that you’re interpreting it correctly, listen to alternate opinions, evaluate, rinse, repeat.

      Here are the kinds of things I tell people:

      Vaccinated people have a smaller chance to infect others (they produce fewer viruses and for a shorter amount of time). That’s data; use it as you see fit.

      Vaccinated people can still die, but the odds are orders of magnitude less than unvaccinated people. That’s data; use it as you see fit.

      Young people (say, below 50ish) have a much lower chance of dying if they contract COVID, but it’s not zero. BUT … unvaccinated younger people are 30 times more likely to die from COVID than vaccinated younger people. The number is still small because 30x(small number)=(small number), but, that’s the data: use it as you see fit.

      As for the multiple jabs:

      The flu vaccine (which itself is only good for about 3-4 months, meaning, after that, the protection wanes) would also require 3-4 jabs a year if it weren’t seasonal. But, the mortality for a ‘bad’ vaccine year (here in the US) is about 80K people. In less than two years, COVID has killed 800,000. And that’s likely undercounted because it doesn’t take into account peripheral deaths.

      Again, some of these things are discussed on the podcast, but the bottom line is that —from what we (currently) know — vaccine immunity is better than natural immunity, three jabs are better than two, and not all vaccines perform as well (Moderna, so far, appears to confer the most protection, but a new variant might flip that around). Even if you already have COVID, getting the vaccine gives you better protection than natural immunity OR the vaccines on their own.

      As for this getting long in the tooth and the tunnel being still dark up ahead . . . that’s the crux. Pandemics happen at a rate measured in centuries. They’re not something we are used to, and each time we have to learn the same lessons, and each time common sense is often better than pronouncements by government officials who respond more to popular opinions and demands than to sound science.

      Anyway, here’s something that turned up the corners of my mouth:

      https://xkcd.com/2557/

  4. In terms of the vaccines, I never got the impression that after receiving the initial two doses, that person does not get Covid. I also never got the impression after the booster. Therefore, the risk is still there. The most interesting (to me) is the beginning of this post. That is, how people were more of a community early on, but that is now gone.

  5. You are talking from my heart, and it’s because we both are just looking for the truth. And believe me it gives me courage. And as you wrote, it’s going to be like a religion, it reminds me of one of my posts, I don’t know if you have read it, about one nurse whom I have taken with me in my taxi to bring her home, and as she was coughing through her thick mask all the time. When she wanted to pay, I told her that it could be good for her when she took off her mask in the fresh air. She shouted me back that she’d never do that because she believed in the virus! I thought I had to be an unbeliever then!! 😛
    Thank you so much, for your genius thoughts once more.

    • Thank you, Aladin. The point is that we have all been in this dark tunnel for too long, and I cannot make out how far up we are. Almost at the end, middle or stll at the beginning? I cannot say. 😕

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