Wednesday, April 28, 2021

The missing Covid X-Variable

Can we admit we have no clue about Covid?   There is clearly something missing in the 'how to survive Covid' equation.  We were talking about our governor, Mike DeWine, a couple days ago.  Last year, early in the pandemic, his little Covid dream team came out to explain why the need to do lockdowns and social distancing and masks and all.

One thing DeWine kept bringing up was the early 20th Century's Spanish Flu.  He had little charts showing us all the states that took immediate, and at times draconian, measures to combat the flu, and which ones didn't.  It was a pretty simple chart that showed those states that took action had lower rates of flu deaths, while those that didn't had higher.  Pretty simple stuff.

But here's the problem.  I notice with Covid, there is no such easy chart to plot when it comes to anti-Covid measures and Covid cases and Covid deaths.  States that have instituted draconian measures have, in some cases, led the pack when it comes to deaths and infections and hospitalizations.  On the other hand, some states with the most brutal measures to combat Covid have had much better results.  Same with those states that have maintained loose responses to fighting Covid.  The same goes for countries from what I can tell, but those numbers seem difficult to pinpoint.

In fact, all we need do is look at now.  While more Americans than ever are being vaccinated, the numbers in Covid cases and hospitalizations are rising.  Or so they say.  What's that even mean?  How are the vaccines helping if that is the case?  Or do they say it would be worse if we weren't vaccinated?  That's always an easy claim.  Sure millions died because of this idea we tried, but billions may have died otherwise.  I don't know.  I don't even know how the vaccines help, how often they have to be boosted, and we can't - despite statements to the contrary - know of any long term effects yet. 

And then there is Texas, which sent shockwaves through the media a month or so ago by announcing it would lift all statewide Covid restrictions.  Based on what everyone said, this would usher in a tsunami of Covid cases and restart the entire pandemic.  But last I looked, it appears Texas is actually not seeing the same spikes as other states where restrictions are still quite harsh.

All of this suggests to my layman's eyes that there is something else about Covid we don't know. There is something else that is the real variable showing why people get infected.  A missing information link if you would.  Likewise, there could be other variables behind why some get Covid and never know they had it, others die, and still others are wrecked by debilitating side effects of having the virus.  Granted, not knowing could be a reason to take immediate action, if we knew or could in any way see exactly what actions did what, and which ones worked and which ones didn't. 

Again, we don't know. While there are plenty who no doubt are willing to let millions of lives be ruined so they can stay safe, it becomes troubling when you consider their lives are being ruined for what may prove to be no real purpose.   Not that we should do nothing.  If only 10% of deaths attributed to Covid in the United States were in fact a direct result of Covid, that's still a mighty bad flu season.  Bad enough that the decent thing to do would be do what we can.

But there's a difference between saying do what we can, and mandating controlled responses that have seen skyrocketing drug abuse rates, crime rates, suicide rates, depression rates, not to mention millions of lives thrown upside down.  And we won't even get into the millions of small business owners who don't care about poor people in the third world.  Some of them may never be able to get back on their feet again.  In fact, we may be seeing the first time in which the means to combat an epidemic may cause problems that outlast for years the pandemic they were supposed to fight.  It certainly warrants more of an answer than the usual variations on 'shut up and obey' that we've heard for the last year. 

For a disease that we still clearly know little about, and that has significant variables not accounted for in the calculations about its spread and impact, that begins to be a troubling development.  That despite the gaping holes in our knowledge, we make daily, sometimes contradictory, pronouncements with the assurance of a Jonestown resident.  At least for anyone who doesn't strut under the mantra that there is no end to the suffering and dying I'm willing to allow so that I may be safe and happy, that should be a troubling observation. 

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