Saturday, October 14, 2023

Manufacturing Consent to Spread SARS-CoV-2

Like the political/media machine convinced citizens that invading Iraq was necessary, we're being convinced to spread a virus that will come back to destroy our own lives. 

Yesterday, Arijit Chakravarty, who specializes in applying mathematical modeling to drug discovery and development, and Martha Lincoln, assistant professor of cultural and medical anthropology, wrote about the ongoing existence of Covid that's often matched with ongoing minimization of a deadly and disabling disease in the US. Politicians are very worried about people panicking and freaking out and being hysterical! They largely don't seem concerned at all with people succumbing to disease repeatedly or tragically, and they really should be:

"If there's one thing we've learned, three and a half years into the current crisis, it's that--contrary to what the movies taught us--pandemics don't automatically spawn terror-stricken stampedes in the street. Media and public health coverage have a strong hand in shaping public response and can--under the wrong circumstances--promote indifference, incaution, and even apathy. A very visible example of this was the sharp drop in the number of people masking after the CDC revised its guidelines in 2021, recommending that masking was not necessary for the vaccinated (from 90% in May to 53% in September). As that example suggests, emphasizing the message 'don't panic' puts the cart before the horse unless tangible measures are being taken to prevent panic-worthy outcomes. . . . 

This 'moral calm'--a sort of manufactured consent--impedes risk mitigation by promoting the underestimation of a threat. Soothing public messaging during disasters can often lead to an increased death toll. Tragically, false reassurance contributed to mortality in both the attacks on the World Trade Center and the sinking of the Titanic. . . .Some experts and public figures have uncritically advanced the idea that if the public appears to be tired, bored, or noncompliant with public health measures, then the pandemic must be over. But pandemics are impervious to ratings. . . . History is replete with examples of pandemics that blazed for decades, sometimes smoldering for years befoer flaring up again into catastrophe. . . . A pandemic cannot tell when the news cycle has moved on. . . . 

The claim that more disease risk and contagion means the end of a disease event runs contrary to the science. . . . More disease spread means faster evolution for SARS-CoV-2, and greater risks for public health. . . . creating the risk of novel variants with unpredictable severity. It also threatens the means that we have to prevent and treat Covid-19: monoclonal antibody treatments no longer work, Paxlovid is showing signs of viral resistance, and booster strategy is complicated by viral evolution. . . . 

Efforts to manage and direct public feelings are not just more magical thinking; they are specifically intended to promote a returen to pre-pandemic patterns of work and consumption. This motive was articulated explicitly in a McKinsey white paper from March 2022. . . . A pandemic is a public health crisis, not a public relations crisis. Conflating the spread of a disease with the way people feel about responding to that spread is deeply illogical. . . . Long Covid poses an ongoing threat both at an individual and a public health level. . . . Anyone can get long Covid; vaccines reduce this risk, but only modestly. This math gets really ugly [predicted to affect billions in just a few years]. . . . 

We cannot manifest our way to a good outcome. Concrete interventions are required. . . . Rather than damping down panic, public health messaging needs to discuss risks honestly and focus on reducing spread. Despite messages to the contrary, our situation remains unstable, because the virus continues to evolve rapidly, and vaccines alone cannot slow this evolution. . . . The current situation with Covid-19 calls for solutions, not a grieving process that should be hustled along to the final stage of acceptance."

Despite Biden's minimizing, at least the US Department of Health and Human Services is funding research on three new Covid vaccines: two of them are intranasal sprays, which is thought to better target the virus. In the first human trial, after a month, the immune response increased by over four times. And it doesn't need to be refrigerated. On top of that, though, Pfizer, Moderna, and Novavax are all working on a Covid-flu combo vaccine, which might be here in 2025. 

Unfortunately, most people have been convinced they don't need to get vaccinated either -- or, worse, that it will do more harm than good. Like the flu, because it mutates so quickly, we should expect to vaccinate at least every six months. But the anti-vaxxers have won this battle. Hopeful a novel method of delivery will bring people back.

We're going back in time to pre-vaccination times!

Whether vaccinated or not, this is a marathon, not a sprint. Stay alive with an N95!

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