Back in March 2020, when the first lockdowns hit, The Hammer and the Dance was published on Medium predicting the future of the pandemic.
This is a great piece of analysis. Unfortunately, like my predictions written way back then, this author had an assumption that proved false. Specifically, that people would prioritize life. That people would behave so that the fewest number of people would die of this horrible disease. Unfortunately not.
Over on Quora, also in early March 2020 I answered the question “When will the Covid-19 virus end?” I couldn’t imagine then that nearly half of adults would choose to let the pandemic continues rather than take a vaccine that works better than anyone had hoped, with so few side effects the odds are higher dying in the car to go get the vaccine than from the vaccine itself.
So when will the pandemic end?
Best I can tell is that it won’t. Not this year. Not next year. Probably not by the end of the 2020s.
That sounds fatalistic and paranoid and maybe even delusional, but remember that the 1918 influenza pandemic never ended. That pandemic didn’t have the benefit of a vaccine (at that time) to help it stop killing people. Instead, for reasons still unknown, the dominant strain in 1920 was a lot less deadly than the strains in 1918 and 1919. The lockdowns ended. The World War ended. And the world lived with the less deadly pandemic.
We now call that “flu season” and until Covid-19 most people thought nothing of the fact that flu killed a few hundred thousand people per year.
Maybe that blase attitude and the low numbers of flu vaccines should have been a clue as to the fate of the coronavirus pandemic. Most people don’t take that disease seriously, and the same is true again for this disease.
With that, 2021 is not the last year of this pandemic. Life will not be returning to normal by the end of year.
Given the fact that immunity to this disease disappears months after recovering, this particular story doesn’t end eve if every country gives up the lockdowns and masks and vaccines. The only path to actually end the pandemic is for 90% of the population to be vaccinated or for a new, more virulent but less lethal variant to show up, replacing the alpha, beta, gamma, and delta variants, letting us add a few hundred thousands deaths per year, every year without any mitigations.
Today’s article in Thttps://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2021/08/how-we-live-coronavirus-forever/619783/he Atlantic explains this new normal.
I’m personally not counting on the virus suddenly being less lethal. Instead, I bought another mask as I expect I’ll continue wearing a mask while shopping for the rest of the 2020s, just as I expect a booster stop every six months. Please do the same.