In our neck of the woods, masks have largely been abandoned. But at our local grocery store, some of the cashiers are still wearing them. And, when my wife and I go out, we wear our masks. That's because Andrew Nikiforuk is right. He writes in The Tyee:
Let’s call it a plague of willful incompetence or an outbreak of epidemiological stupidity. Or maybe José Saramago’s novel has come to life and targeted public officials with a scourge of blindness.
In any case, COVID, a novel virus that can wreak havoc with vital organs in the body, continues to evolve at a furious pace.
In response officials have largely abandoned any coherent response, including masking, testing, tracing and even basic data collection.
Yes, the people have been abandoned.
The data keeps coming in -- and it's nothing to celebrate:
Reinfections, and 2022 is surely the year of reinfections, just increase the damage from COVID, which can be profound: immune dysregulation, blood clots, nerve cell death, inflammation, lung damage, kidney failure and brain damage.
New science shows that Omicron and its variants are getting better at evading immune defences induced by vaccines or by natural infection. BA5, for example, is more transmissible than any previous variant.
As a consequence it is now possible to be reinfected with one of Omicron’s variants every two to three weeks.
The data also shows that each reinfection confers so little immunity — because the immune system is unable to remember it — that we must seek every other protection available.* A summer infection, for example, will not protect you against a fall infection. But each and every infection will damage your immune system regardless of how mild the symptoms.
There is more bad news. Past infection by older variants dampen rather than strengthen immune protection even among those with three vaccinations. “That previous SARS-CoV-2 infection history can imprint such a profound, negative impact on subsequent protective immunity is an unexpected consequence of COVID-19,” noted the researchers in Science.
The virus is getting better at thwarting vaccines and evading immunity. Although vaccine protection against hospitalization and death remains strong, it is being steadily eroded by Omicron’s subvariants. Meanwhile protection against severe disease has declined as the effectiveness of our vaccines progressively wanes.
Yet we blithely assume we're getting back to normal. We simply can't go back to the way things were. I'm getting darkly pessimistic in my old age. We haven't got the character to survive our brave new world.