The White House is about the announce that 100 million Americans are fully vaccinated. Around dawn this morning, Paige Cunningham reported for the Washington Post that for the fully vaccinated "the risk of serious illness from the coronavirus-- and spreading the virus to others-- is vanishingly low"
Out of 87 million people vaccinated, 7,157 experienced breakthrough infections.
Of those, 498 were hospitalized and 88 died.
So, vaccinated people have a 0.0005 percent chance of hospitalization and a 0.0001 percent chance of dying from the coronavirus.
"Those percentages are far lower than the risk of being hospitalized with or dying of the seasonal flu, some experts note. They also represent much less risk than people are willing to take on every day when they drive in their car or engage in a sport."
That said, the U.S. still reported 56,605 new cases on Wednesday and 59,269 cases yesterday and an average of 900 deaths each day. Florida, where the crackpot governor, ended all precautions prematurely, has been leading the country in new cases-- 5,666 yesterday-- and the U.S.has had over 33 million cases, will soon report 600,000 deaths and will surpass 100,000 cases per million residents.
India, whose Trump-like leader, Narendra Modi, encouraged the country to largely relax after the first wave, is in the middle of a nightmare scenario with-- by far-- the most daily new cases and the most daily new deaths. Wednesday, India reported 3,647 new deaths and 379,459 new cases and yesterday it was 3,501 new deaths and 386,888 new cases. Today it was 3,389 deaths and 394,745 new cases. The number of cases nationwide will probably hit 20 million by Monday and no one thinks India is reporting even half the fatalities and cases in their country. The hospital system in Delhi and Mumbai have collapsed and people who can afford to are fleeing the capital.
This morning, the NY Times reported that "some vaccinated individuals, including 37 doctors at one New Delhi hospital, were found to have contracted the virus, leaving many to wonder if a more contagious variant was behind the second wave. Many in India already assume that the variant, B.1.617, is responsible for the severity of the second wave. The variant is sometimes called 'the double mutant,' though the name is a misnomer because it has many more mutations than two. It garnered the name because one version contains two genetic mutations found in other difficult-to-control variants."
So far, no one is suggesting that Trumpists refusing to be vaccinated be shot in the streets like rabid dogs, or even deported to desert islands to die with each other. But like many people, USA Today's Michael Stern is worried how much damage the Trumpists will cause the rest of society with their sense of entitlement, their stupidity and their disregard for the well-being of anyone but themselves. He's just calling for shunning them-- perhaps a first step towards the inevitable. He recounted his response to one well-known Trump getting sick: "Has-been rock star Ted Nugent told the world last week that he has COVID-19. Nugent’s announcement was an oddity because he previously called the viral pandemic a 'leftist scam to destroy' former president Donald Trump. As I watched Nugent’s Facebook Live post, in which he repeatedly hocked up wads of phlegm and spit them to the ground, I got emotional when he described being so sick he thought he 'was dying.' But when he trashed the COVID-19 vaccine and warned people against taking it, I realized that the emotion I was feeling was not empathy, it was anger."
For the better part of a year, as the coronavirus racked up hundreds of thousands of American deaths, the flickering light at the end of the tunnel was herd immunity-- the antibody force-shield that comes when enough people have survived the illness or have been vaccinated against it. "Go get vaccinated, America," President Biden said in his speech to Congress this week, referring to the shot as "a dose of hope.”
Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease doctor, suggested in December that if 75% to 85% of the population got vaccinated, we could reach herd immunity by June. And with herd immunity, we’d return to a measure of “normalcy,” meaning indoor dining, movie theaters and hugs.
But herd immunity is slipping away because a quarter of Americans are refusing to get the COVID-19 vaccine. Dr. Gregory Poland, director of the Mayo Clinic's Vaccine Research Group recently said: “There is no eradication at this point, it’s off the table. …We as a society have rejected” herd immunity. Hmm, no! “We” have not rejected anything. A quarter of the country is ruining it for all of us.
It’s not just wacky former rockers who have put herd immunity out of reach. It is white evangelicals (45% say they won't get vaccinated). And it is Republicans (almost 50% are refusing the vaccine). In Texas, 59% of white Republicans have said “no” to the vaccine. You can slap the euphemism “vaccine hesitancy” on the problem, but in the end the G.O.P., and the children of G.O.D., are perpetuating a virus that is sickening and killing people in droves.
A big part of the problem stems from the cultish relationship many evangelicals and Republicans have with former President Donald Trump. They absorbed his endless efforts to downplay the danger of the virus and turn public health precautions into a political freedom movement. But the time for analyzing why these human petri dishes have chosen to ignore the medical science that could save them, and us, is over. We need a different strategy. I propose shunning.
Biden’s wildly successful vaccine rollout means that soon everyone who wants a vaccine will have one. When that happens, restaurants, movie theaters, gyms, barbers, airlines and Ubers should require proof of vaccination before providing their services.
And it shouldn’t stop there. Businesses should make vaccination a requirement for employment. A COVID outbreak can shut down a business and be financially devastating. And failure to enforce basic health and safety measures is not fair to employees who have to work in offices, factories, and stores where close contact is required. Things should get personal, too: People should require friends to be vaccinated to attend the barbeques and birthday parties they host. Friends don’t let friends spread COVID.
As I’m writing this I can almost see the Twitter rebuttals: “If people want to risk being microchipped by the deep state, they can protect themselves by getting a vaccine without making me do the same.” Nope. In its real life application, the vaccine is about 90% effective. Sure, that’s impressive, but if the roulette wheels makes you one of the unlucky 10%, it’s little consolation.
There have already been several thousand documented “breakthrough” cases of COVID-19 infections in people who have been vaccinated. Some have died. And with coronavirus variants popping up across the globe, for which the vaccine is less effective, we should expect to see more infections in vaccinated people.
Half-witted personal autonomy
Unwilling to miss an opportunity to flout common sense, Republican leaders from Florida, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Arkansas and other states want to prevent businesses from requiring customers to be vaccinated. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has already issued an executive order “prohibiting businesses from requiring patrons or customers to show vaccine documentation.”
There are decades of state laws that require vaccination before children can attend schools. There are seatbelt and helmet laws, no-texting-while-driving laws, and countless other laws that restrict individual freedoms to ensure safety for the public at large. Despite this, vaccine requirements designed to curb a global pandemic that has cost us more than 570,000 American lives is the hill on which Republicans want to die.
When states pass these laws, designed to tell private companies how to run their businesses, there should be immediate legal challenges. Surely, if a bakery can refuse to provide its services to a gay couple getting married, they can refuse to bake a cake for people who choose to place themselves, the bakery staff and its customers at risk of contracting a deadly illness.
As a country, America has become too tolerant of half-witted individual autonomy that ignores the existential needs of the vast majority of its citizens.