We keep being asked when the pandemic will end. It will never end, scientifically speaking. The novel coronavirus causing the COVID-19 pandemic will not be so novel anymore, and it will join the other four (or so) human coronaviruses circulating in the human population. It will cause nuisance infections for most of us. For a few of us going forward, it will cause what feels at worst like a flu and at best what feels like a bad cold. It will not kill us, especially if we’re otherwise healthy and have some sort of immunity. Sadly, people the world over will continue to die from it, especially in those places in the world where only the filthy rich (by comparative standards) or the people in power are able to have healthcare of any kind.
An old boss of mine told me that the best lesson he could give his kids — and he was now giving to me — was that life was not fair. He said I would need to know this to be a functional adult in society. I was 35 years old at the time.
Why is it that “wisdom” like that is acceptable? Why is it that we’re okay with the world not being fair? “Oh, sorry, but life is unfair and that’s why you get to die from a vaccine-preventable disease, kiddo.” Or, “Life is not fair, so your tooth abscess that could be treated with simple antibiotics will kill you.”
No. It’s more like, “Your parents were idiots and thought they knew more about infectious disease prevention than your pediatrician, kiddo.” And, “The rich white guys at the state capitol decided not to expand Medicaid to cover your abscessed tooth because their kids have health insurance and you’re Black.” That’s where the real unfairness in life is, in people being absolute jerks. They got theirs, and nothing else needs to be done about anything. You’re freezing because the power grid failed? Sorry, they have a thing in Cancun that needs to be taken care of. They want pandemic restrictions lifted? Yeah, go ahead and lift them, but keep the one that keeps the Brown people out of the country… That public health intervention is the one we need.
So, yeah, politicians will continue to be jerks into 2023, and we’ll have to smile and nod at them when we go meet them to talk about our work lest we piss them off and our bosses feel “embarrassed.” I swear, half of the work we do is because of ill-informed decisions of policymakers who think they know more than they really do. The other half is because people don’t know what to do with everything that is bombarding them daily. And the bombardment is constant.
Just the other night, an NFL player dropped dead in the middle of a game and was revived on the field by first responders and team doctor. Without missing a beat, the trolls and automated bots immediately descended on social media and started saying/writing that the player “died suddenly.” Instead of going with the most probable thing (being hit hard in the chest at a high velocity and with a lot of mass), they go with the most conspiratorial… Because that’s how their minds work. That’s what they do. And the ones who know better do it just to sow discord and get us all riled up. (Nothing would benefit certain foreign powers than a United States where vaccine-preventable diseases made a comeback. How’s that for a conspiracy theory?)
The year ahead is going to be nuts. It’s going to be better than the last three years of the pandemic. I mean, it has to be. But it’s also going to be a year with its own challenges. Florida has an anti vaxxer at the helm of their public health agency. Their governor is getting ready to run for President, and there is nothing he won’t do or say to win. Extremist governments on the Right and the Left are coming to power in different countries and localities. Ebola is still bubbling in Africa. Climate change is bringing tropical diseases to the geographic north.
What a time to be alive.
Won’t you join us?