I am frankly amazed I am still here. Last year at this time I was in the coronary unit of the hospital for observation. I had an RS virus (common cold), and that reduced my O2 levels and made me very congested and ill. I think I was there for three days, not a long stay. Having a common virus land me in the Coronary unit of the hospital certainly illustrated my own vulnerabilities to me. That experience and the Pandemic being confirmed are what made me consider doing this project to begin with. In a couple of weeks, it will have been a full year I have been doing this record of the Pandemic.
The VA called me the other day and I now have an appointment for a C-19 vaccine. That means I will have a vaccine, the first of two, on about the one-year anniversary of this pandemic, about 13 ½ months after I first saw Wuhan lock down and took notice of the bug myself. So One week from today I will go get poked and gain some resistance to Coronavirus. How much protection and for how long will remain debatable because this is a novel virus and we have not had the time to do all our peer reviews. We have not had time to see how the vaccine fares against the new variants either.
All the vaccines were designed on the original strain, L, from Wuhan in Dec of 2019, it’s first mutation was in January of 2020, a month after discover:, then within a couple of weeks it mutated twice into V and G, G itself mutated into GR and GH by the end of Jan 2020. GR and GH are the dominant strains globally at this time. We are certain all the vaccines will have an impact and they all have high levels of protection, even against the variants. We are not at all certain as to how more resistant these variants might be resistant to the vaccines and/or treatments.
“Currently, there are six strains of coronavirus. The original one is the L strain, that appeared in Wuhan in December 2019. Its first mutation—the S strain—appeared at the beginning of 2020, while, since mid-January 2020, we have had strains V and G. To date strain G is the most widespread: it mutated into strains GR and GH at the end of February 2020.”– phys.org
“A new virus variant has one or more mutations that differentiate it from the wild-type or predominant virus variants already circulating among the general population. As expected, multiple variants of SARS-CoV-2 have been documented in the United States and globally throughout this pandemic.”-CDC
B.1.1.7-UK Variant–” B.1.1.7 variant may be associated with an increased risk of death compared with other variants. More studies are needed to confirm this finding.”-CDC
B.1.351-South African Variant—”Preliminary evidence from non-peer-reviewed publications suggests that the Moderna mRNA-1273 vaccine currently used in the US may be less effective against this variant, but additional studies are needed.”-CDC
P.1-Brazilian Variant—” There is evidence to suggest that some of the mutations in the P.1 variant may affect the ability of antibodies (from natural infection or vaccination) to recognize and neutralize the virus, but additional studies are needed.”-CDC
“One specific mutation, called D614G, is shared by these three variants. It gives the variants the ability to spread more quickly than the predominant viruses, as described in a non-peer-reviewed preprint article. There also is epidemiologic evidence that variants with this specific mutation spread more quickly than viruses without the mutation.”-CDC
Note that everything is coached by “Needs more research” or “Non peer reviewed article”. In science if one person discovers anything, 100 more try to disprove them by repeating their experiments: but in a Pandemic we are losing lives in real time and so research has to move faster, thus while some scientists are trying to repeat the experiment, others are seeing what can be learned, what medicines could be made IF that first run research is valid. If it is disproven, such research ends. If the findings are confirmed, then we got a head start on that line of research.
The reality that I will have a vaccine in 14 months from the discovery of a novel virus, in my arm, is an astonishing feat of science. My personal reality will not change much for a long while, even after vaccination. The vaccine requires a one-month booster and a two-week period after that for full protection. So, seven weeks from today I will have the protection of that vaccine. It is light at the end of the tunnel.
My public protocols, the way I behave and act in public spaces, which I have not entered at all in a year, will remain in place for the foreseeable future. I will be masked in an N-95 at the mall or store for instance, I will maintain a keen awareness of hands to face and hand cleanliness. Not only will C-19 remain in our environment, but by sitting in my bubble and practicing these things household wide, we, my entire household, all avoided all colds, flu, and Covid all winter. Things are starting to melt a little here and no one caught any bug all year. That is so uncommon in my experience as to be remarkable. It shows the efficacy of a viral posture in “cold and flu season”, for colds and flu alone.
So POTUS Biden says he thinks we all could be having 4th of July celebrations, that BBQ will be back, as will gatherings of friends and families by independence day. The catch is maintaining our posture until we have 70% or more vaccinated, till we are at herd immunity. However, I see humans doing exactly what they did last year. Opening up states because the numbers have dropped. Attending Spring Break because “Hey, I deserve it”. Last year I watched as time after time people just said “Aw fuck it, gonna die of something”, and then proceeded to attend or hold mass events, which inevitably led to blooms.
Italy and France are in a third wave right now. I expect that for the foreseeable future that will always be the case. Getting America all vaccinated and fully protected won’t stop a pandemic. It needs to be the Globe, or it will always be like that.
Follow this hypothetical line of thought. America is vaccinated, but a new strain which the vaccine does not work on was just found in a bloom in Bumfuckia. Now the world closes its doors to Bumfuckia and the companies rush to make new modifications of the vaccines for the new year. There will always be a Bumfuckia somewhere, and sometimes it might be your nation, city, or town which has become the new Bumfuckia, as the bloom is there.
Humans don’t much like change, but they love convenience and all have a herd mentality to some degree because we are social creatures. Pick your technology and look at it. Take the cell phone for one. When they were new, really new, they were huge, and a status symbol of the wheeler dealer, who just could not wait to get to a phone. A very expensive item and a pain in the ass. Few people were interested and most thought having a phone in your pocket would suck, it would ruin your activities. Who wanted to hear someone’s phone ringing during the concert, movie, or symphony when we already hated them ringing during dinner and interrupting our meals?
Over time the phones got smaller and much more convenient, adding features to make rings less annoying and more socially acceptable. Ringtone became a term. Now we set tones so we recognize the caller before we answer. Now the phone is also a pocket computer. You can play games on it. It can also play music. Now it can run apps and calculate your tips at the restaurant for you.
Owners readily show off features to others, who see the advantage of having one for its apps. Soon, everyone has one and most have become very dependent upon the technology. Your life is in your phone now. It links to the web, so too your bank and credit, to your contacts. We no longer remember phone numbers, the phone does, and if asked we have to look it up. So, the change many resisted at first slowly became the must have item socially, and then we became dependent on it.
Unlike the cell phone, viral preparedness does not offer convenience, it is the opposite. It is an unpleasant and inconvenient change forced upon the population by circumstance. Viral preparedness is like sunscreen, you don’t want it, but you damn well need it sometimes. On a sunny day, at the beach, it is recommended to avoid sunburn. Sunburns may well lead to melanoma in later life, so many people have embraced sunscreen as an inconvenient necessity which improves life overall. At a crowded Mall, during the holiday season, wearing a mask is recommended to avoid viral infection. Always has been, but it is not a normal social convention here in the states. I expect it will become common to see some people in masks, and many others not; just as at the beach some folks use sunscreen and others get burnt.
Unfortunately for all of us this normal aspect of human social functions will leave pockets for Coronavirus to survive and replicate. C-19 isn’t going anywhere unless it is eradicated from the globe. Outbreaks can be contained and controlled, we hope, and if we fail, we go once more around the pandemic loop. So viral posture should not be relaxed at all until herd immunity, even if your vaccinated, even if it is horribly inconvenient. If we rush out too soon with spring fever we may well wind up with an actual fever. Viral posture needs to be ever ready, like band aids, in the homes of us all, so when future outbreaks occur, we are not caught unprepared.
Our current posture should be held for another 7-8 weeks, by then we should see what the variants are up to, how they have spread, and also be near American herd immunity. The virus, as you well know, does not see or care about borders, so a foreign mutation will come here eventually.
A note on Gov Cumo., who seems to have gotten himself into trouble. I note this because last Spring Gov. Cumo was a voice of reason in the absence of leadership coming from the White House. We ought not to call for action based upon allegations alone. If we allow people to lose their Job, or their business, based upon an allegation of something horrid, then people will abuse that process. If people can simply call each other sex offenders and thereby cost them their life and lively hood, without proof, without evidence, then we damage the rule of law. Heinous allegations must be investigated soundly. If the investigation supports the allegation then steps must be taken by appropriate authorities.
We must also recall what I term the “Ghandi affect”. The “Ghandi Affect” is a common human trait of assumption. We come to know names and personalities in such a way as to make contradictory evidence about the same person seem implausible or impossible. A Cognitive Bias sets in and it becomes difficult to believe that person ‘A’ would ever do ‘B’. Take this sentence, “Ghandi was a racist.”, most people’s mind scream “BS! he was the originator of non-violent protest and a holy man!” His writings in South Africa before his return to India show racism. Truth is he was both.
Mother Terresa is another one, a Saint in the worlds public Image, but in life she was nothing of the sort. Christopher Hitchens did an article in Vanity Fair on her long before he gained renown for not believing in a God. Could be the same way with Cumo, because we are all a mixed bag of success and failure.
Maintain Viral Posture and get your poke (Shot, Vaccination) ASAP. Don’t leap to “It’s Over!”, because it is not. Seeing light at the end of the tunnel means your still in the tunnel. Let’s get out of the tunnel, then reassess.
Global Infected 116,600,908 119,620,761
7-day average 431,407 infections diagnosed daily –UP
Global Dead 2,589,638 2,649,919
7-day average 8,611 deaths daily –DOWN
USA Infected 28,953,217 29,401,167
7-day average 63,992 infections diagnosed daily –UP
USA C-19 deaths 524,362 534,315
7-day average 1,421 deaths daily –DOWN
Maine Infected 45,794 47,025
7-day average 175 infections diagnosed daily –UP
Maine deaths 706 724
7 day average 2.5714 deaths daily –UP
While I hid in my farmhouse 60,281 of my fellow humans died of C-19, of those 9,953 were my fellow Americans and 18 were fellow Mainers.