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Thread: When is the pandemic over?

  1. #1
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    Default When is the pandemic over?

    The pandemic isn't over. It's not. We are turning a corner and reached a peak. We've had surges and peaks before but this time should be different, according to the experts, and I'm not arguing that.

    My point is that the pandemic isn't going to be over all at once. Except for the people who can't get vaccinated, of course. But the whole pandemic as it affects our country will end gradually, in spots that will be smaller and separated and grow larger, eventually covering the whole country. Think of a wet concrete slab, like your driveway after a rain. It's soaked, then it's just dark, stained by the moisture but without anything to splash. You can walk on it without getting your feet wet. When you come back out a little while later, it's not stained dark by the moisture except in a few places and most of those are small and you can tell they are where there was a slight irregularity and the concrete was not perfectly flat there and the water when it was laying on it there was just slightly deeper. A little while after that, and those spots will be dry, too. That's when the driveway is dry again.

    If it is a new concrete driveway, you're supposed to keep it wet for a few weeks and not let it get completely dry as it will be in, say, summer, a few months away, when it will be bone dry. That's so the concrete can continue to cure and harden. And concrete actually continues to harden for it's lifetime. For decades and centuries. If you were a scientist with the necessary instruments, and you went and measured the concrete in, say, the sidewalks of New York city poured way back before horseless carriages, it would be harder than the new driveway at your house. Let's not whup an analogy too hard.

    The pandemic will continue as long as there are new cases and deaths to report. Period. Almost, period. In fact, the pandemic will be over the way the driveway dries out. In patches first, and then in larger patches becoming contiguous. In your county, depending where you live, the hospital is now, maybe, not full to capacity and the staff are getting some relief. The morgue isn't full and overflowing into the conference room. And your county has reported no new cases and no deaths for a month or two, since winter. But over in the adjacent county, the county seat, where the big city has hundreds of thousands of people and a dozen hospitals, the pandemic is still on. There are new cases, and the number of them and of the deaths are down, but still high. Still hundreds per month instead of each day, but still hundreds. Those hospitals are still running shifts and most of the work is still intubating the covid patients, who are still showing up unvaccinated and stupid and whose loved ones still have to wait beyond the glass, dying without saying goodbye.

    The big city in your county that is still reporting new cases and deaths per day in the hundreds or in the dozens still has a mask mandate for indoor facilities. And there are still people parading around pissed off and willing to get in your face if you insist that they wear a mask to dine in. And if you are still living and haven't had covid but are not vaccinated, for whatever reason, you better stay out of crowded indoor places for a while yet, and wear a mask. Your pandemic is over when the new cases are only double digit or single digit and the evening news hasn't carried the numbers in a while. Your concrete is hard enough now to drive on and park your truck on.

    Now your pandemic is over, and since you live in a suburb of a big city, with a major airport and cruise ship port, you were the last to have your pandemic over.

    So now. What are you going to do and what are you going to tell your kids and co-workers when, a few years from now, the evening news suddenly has the headline that another novel coronavirus, as contagious and deadly as the last one that carried us in pandemic for three full long years, is discovered in a city with an airport and a cruise ship port and you start hearing the phrase 'essential travel only' and 'wear a mask?' What are you going to do, and what are going to tell your kids and your co-workers and your mom in the nursing home?

    Everyone wants the pandemic to be over. No one wants to get the disease, just like no one wants to be in the hospital, or suffer from suffocation, and no one wants to die. But no one wants to wear a mask and stay home. What are you going to do then?

    The pandemic is over when it's over, until then be smart and not selfish and not complacent and not too tired to do the right thing.
    Last edited by Jim Mahan; 01-30-2022 at 07:41 AM.
    Speak softly and carry a mouthful of marbles.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: When is the pandemic over?

    ^ A well-written, thoughtful piece, Jim - thanks for putting thoughts to (electronic) 'paper'

    Rick
    Charter Member - - Professional Procrastinators Association of America - - putting things off since 1965 " I'll get around to it tomorrow, .... maybe "

  3. #3
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    Default Re: When is the pandemic over?

    Ask a health care worker. Ben Sebens, for example.
    Gerard>
    Albuquerque, NM

    Every Republican is an obstacle to progress.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: When is the pandemic over?

    It's hard not to see the inevitability of catching COVID eventually. I suppose it's over for some when they feel sufficiently protected that they can catch it and live. Now that I'm boosted, I think I may be there until a more aggressive variant shows up, but my wife has lung issues and I don't think she is there at all. That means I cannot afford to catch it and bring it home. So for us, it is not over.
    "Where you live in the world should not determine whether you live in the world." - Bono

    "Live in such a way that you would not be ashamed to sell your parrot to the town gossip." - Will Rogers

    "Those are my principles, and if you don't like them... well, I have others." - Groucho Marx

  5. #5
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    Default Re: When is the pandemic over?

    I went to a model and full size railroad sale event in the LaCrosse, WI, Convention Center. The doors were plastered with signs stressing the need for masking. I was part of the prehaps 5% of the crowd that wore masks. The pandemic will be over after the majority of us get vaccinated, mask up, or get covid and recover or die.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: When is the pandemic over?

    kingdome not even 20 years old....spring chicken of concrete

  7. #7
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    Unhappy Re: When is the pandemic over?

    It'll never be over.
    We are doomed.
    It's always been survival of the fittest.
    Keep calm, persistence beats resistance.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: When is the pandemic over?

    Smartest is a big piece of fittest. Garrison Keillor's hat, "Make America Intelligent Again".

  9. #9
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    Default Re: When is the pandemic over?

    Not yet.
    "For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations,
    for nature cannot be fooled."

    Richard Feynman

  10. #10
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    Default Re: When is the pandemic over?

    Denmark will scrap all covid-19 restrictions as of February 1.
    https://www.politico.eu/article/denm...-restrictions/
    The authorities in my country have announced that scrapping all restrictions would be a few weeks premature for Sweden. We were later than Denmark into this last wave and will be later than Denmark to get out of it.
    /Erik

  11. #11
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    Default Re: When is the pandemic over?

    Epidemiology update, for those so inclined:

    https://yourlocalepidemiologist.subs...r_IKrc8-VLqr_c
    Predicting the next booster

    Si quiere leer la versión en español, pulse aquí.
    The next big scientific discussion bubbling to the surface is the potential of another booster: Will SARS-CoV-2 continue to mutate to escape antibody protection? Do we need another booster? If so, what’s the next formula? For example, do we need an Omicron-specific vaccine? By the time an Omicron-specific vaccine is tested, we won’t have an Omicron wave anymore. So, is there still value in rolling it out?
    All of the above are difficult questions to answer because they require predicting how this virus will mutate. Some scientific labs have started this work and the story they are finding is nothing short of fascinating.
    Will SARS-CoV-2 continue to mutate to escape antibody protection?
    While all viruses mutate in many ways, when talking about vaccines, we’re really only interested in how viruses change to escape immunity (called antigenic phenotype). With this lens, there are two sides of the viral evolution spectrum:
    Flu: On one end, we have the flu. It mutates a lot to escape our immunity, and about every 2-5 years our immune systems need a new vaccine formula to fight the virus. The new vaccine formula is fairly predictable, because the virus mutates in a ladder-like pattern: there is one major lineage, and every few years, a new variant sweeps and the others go extinct. (See Panel A in the figure below for a depiction). Because of this ladder, we can predict fairly well—although we are sometimes off—where the virus may go to proactively create the next vaccine formula.
    Volz et al (2013) Viral Phylodynamics. PLOS Computational Biology. Source Here.
    Measles: On the other end of the spectrum is measles. While measles mutates, it does not mutate to escape immunity. It has a more balanced evolutionary tree (See panel B in the figure above). There is no immune pressure that constantly pushes one mutation to outcompete another. So there is no ladder-like pattern. And, thankfully, our vaccines from the mid-1960s still work today.
    But the flu and measles are very different from coronaviruses. To understand how SARS-CoV-2 may change to escape immunity over time, we must look at other coronaviruses that have been circulating for decades.
    CoV-229E
    The Bloom lab explored how another coronavirus—called CoV-229E—evolved over time. This is one of the “common colds” that has been circulating since at least the 1960s, although we think much longer. CoV-229E is probably a good indicator of what’s to come with SARS-CoV-2 because the viruses look fairly similar. Also, and importantly, they are mutating largely in the same physical places. The purpose of this study was to assess how CoV-229E evolved over time, which may give us some insight into how SARS-CoV-2 will mutate over time. So what did they find?

    • CoV-229E mutated over time in a clear ladder-like pattern, just like the flu (see figure below).
    • Over time, mutations of CoV-229E eroded antibody protection. In other words, people that were only infected by CoV-229E in 1984 weren’t well protected today.
    • The rate of antibody erosion was highly variable across people.

    Eguia et al (2021). A human coronavirus evolves antigenically to escape antibody immunity. PLOS Pathogens. Source Here
    This tells us that we should expect a ladder-like evolution of SARS-CoV-2 through which we could predict the next variant.
    However, much to our surprise, this hasn’t happened
    SARS-CoV-2 has thrown us for a loop, as the mutations haven’t evolved in a ladder-like fashion. The next variant hasn’t been coming from the last: Omicron didn’t come from Delta, and Delta didn’t come from Alpha. The fact that SARS-CoV-2 has lacked a pattern of evolution like other coronaviruses or the flu is incredibly puzzling.
    There's a lot of things they didn't tell me when I signed on with this outfit....

  12. #12
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    Default Re: When is the pandemic over?

    But (and this is a big but), we haven’t had a lot of time for this pattern to play out. It’s only been 2 years and other evolutionary trees, like CoV-229E, also had 2-year time frames in which there were no ladder-like changes.
    We expect the ladder-like pattern to arise with SARS-CoV-2 eventually. But because it hasn’t yet, we don’t know which direction SARS-CoV-2 is heading. This makes proactively predicting the next booster formulas challenging and risky (from financial and logistic standpoints). This leads us to the next question…
    Do we need another booster right now?
    There are really two camps of thought right now:

    1. There is not enough evidence that we need another booster. Boosters are working fantastically well against severe disease during the Omicron wave. For example, in the U.K., we see that even 4-6 months after inoculation, efficacy of a booster against hospitalization is 75-85% compared to 2-dose series, which has an efficacy of 30-35%. This is even the case with BA.2 (sister lineage of Omicron), where there is lessimmunity escape than BA.1. The same goes for those that received the original J&J with one booster. A study out of South Africa found that a second dose of J&J was 85% effective against hospitalization during a time when Omicron was circulating, compared with 63% after one dose.In addition, T-cells, our second line of defense that keeps us out of the hospital, are mutating but have much less evolutionary pressure than our first line of defense (antibody protection). So there’s also a chance the current vaccine series will continue to protect against severe disease for a while.

    (UK Health Security Agency- Source Here)
    (UK Health Security Agency- Source Here)

    1. Roll-out another booster vaccine. On the other hand, Israel already rolled out a second booster (not Omicron specific formula) among those aged 60+ years. The Israel Health Ministry just released data showing a 3-fold decrease in severe disease among those with 60+ years with 2 boosters compared to 1 booster during the Omicron wave (see figure below). Looking forward, there’s a good chance the next variant will come from Omicron (although, because we lack a ladder-like pattern, we could be wrong). If Omicron had enough mutations for partial antibody escape, the next variant may have full immune escape. Boosting with an Omicron-specific formula would then significantly prepare us for what is to come.

    (Israel Ministry of Health; figure translated by Dr. Eric Topol)
    Bottom Line: As Yogi Berra said, “It's tough to make predictions, especially about the future.” And SARS-CoV-2 is making it even more difficult with its random evolutionary patterns. The booster discussion that will ensue among scientists in the coming months will be imperative to follow.
    There's a lot of things they didn't tell me when I signed on with this outfit....

  13. #13
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    Default Re: When is the pandemic over?

    When the pandemic is over, war starts. What will be next? I am seriously considering getting a survival kit from https://theusmarines.com. Everyone should be prepared I guess.
    Last edited by nick.kohl; 06-17-2022 at 04:26 AM.

  14. #14
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    Default Re: When is the pandemic over?

    Oregon: cases are up again. Three counties have reinstated full masking protocols. Out running errands today, lots of folks here (not one of the thrree counties) with masks.
    David G
    Harbor Woodworks
    https://www.facebook.com/HarborWoodworks/

    "It was a Sunday morning and Goddard gave thanks that there were still places where one could worship in temples not made by human hands." -- L. F. Herreshoff (The Compleat Cruiser)

  15. #15
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    Default Re: When is the pandemic over?

    The pandemic will be "over' when the disease and death toll becomes acceptable to the general population and not a threat electorally to politicians.

  16. #16
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    Default Re: When is the pandemic over?

    Many thought it would be over on Nov. 4, 2020.

  17. #17
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    Default Re: When is the pandemic over?

    It's over when I say it's over.
    Get used to it.
    R
    Sleep with one eye open.

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