Good Advice Without Politics

I have had it with people who politicize COVID. The CDC issues confusing guidance largely because they fear blowback from people with non-medical agendas. Others, including some sex bloggers, suggest that getting or not getting vaccinated is a way of supporting a particular political party.

Other epidemics brought people together to fight the disease. Think of polio and the deadly flu of the early 20th century. The press was full of news about the disease, not what some politician says is true or false. Let’s take a few minutes to pull the politics out of the conversation.

  1. There are effective vaccines that prevent or vastly reduce the seriousness of COVID. Over 90 percent of people hospitalized for the disease were not vaccinated. Almost all deaths from the disease are unvaccinated people. I don’t know about you, but three free injections offer a lot of protection with no risk. No brainer. The noise including questionable statistics, comes from people who want to politicize the disease.
  2. Masking reduces transmission. It isn’t perfect, but the evidence is overwhelming that if people wear masks, transmission is almost eliminated. Yes, it’s a little uncomfortable to wear a mask, but not so horrible that it makes sense to fight over wearing one.
  3. Vaccination and masking are not just to protect the people who use them. If you are infected, your mask will almost certainly protect the people around you from getting sick. COVID is most transmissible beginning three days before symptoms appear and lasting through the first week of symptoms. The only way to reduce transmission is for everyone to wear a mask when indoors around other people.
  4. None of these precautions are perfect. You might get sick even if vaccinated and boosted and you wear a mask. You won’t get as sick and probably won’t need to go to the hospital. You will protect people around you from getting sick too.

It’s entirely too easy to claim that people who don’t share your political beliefs are forcing these odious restrictions on you. You can make it a political cause to resist the tyranny of contagion control. Or, you can calm down and realize that all of us are united in the effort to get COVID out of our lives. Use that last grain of compassion to help protect all of us from a serious disease.

8 Comments

  1. Great rant! I get so annoyed when people refuse to wear masks. In our area it is required by law to wear a mask inside all establishments. And yet there are still selfish people refusing to do so. As you say, this isn’t a political issue. It’s an issue of health.

    1. Author

      I didn’t think I was ranting. I just hope that maybe someone will take a look at the need for responsible behavior and do the right thing.

  2. I think the vaccines are very helpful for older people and fatter people especially in reducing the severity of the disease. It also likely does something to slow the spread, though Omicron seems to rip right through vaccinated people and it spreads regardless. I think the risks of COVID are very small for the young and fit, and it’s not at all dangerous (relative to other routine dangers) for children. The vaccine does have side effects, sometimes bad ones. For most groups the risk of COVID is greater than that of vaccines, but for young boys, it appears to be reversed. Really the vaccine is more a therapeutic, because it does not stop people from contracting and spreading, unlike more classic vaccines. Natural immunity gained from previous COVID is superior to the more fleeting protection of vaccinations. Because of the reasons above, I do not believe vaccine mandates are warranted.

    I think the science behind mask wearing as a public health measure is quite spotty. While it’s common sense that it does reduce droplet spread from symptomatic people especially, most infections occur from super spreaders in enclosed spaces for extended periods, and masks would make no real difference there.

    The public health consequences of some of the counter measures (such as lockdowns) cause more harms than the disease among certain groups (increased suicides, increased family abuse, missed medical screenings and treatments).

    None of the above is a political view.

    1. Author

      Any public health measure will come with its own set of issues. The reason people need vaccination isn’t simply to prevent the individual from getting sick. It’s to remove hosts for the virus. If you as a young, healthy female get vaccinated and boosted, you help protect the vulnerable people out there. Sadly, the newest mutation can infect vaccinated people. The benefit is that those people who got vaccinated (and boosted) don’t get as sick. Over 90% of hospitalized COVID patients are unvaccinated. Hosptals are filling up. Reducing the need for people to go to hospitals is a big public health benefit.

      There is enough evidence that masks reduce the risk of infection, not just for COVID but for other diseases. This is a numbers game. The object is to find ways to reduce the severity of the disease and the probability of infection. Even if a measure is marginally useful, it still makes sense because there is a benefit. I agree that quarantine is a difficult social situation. We choose to isolate. So far it’s worked and we have a very good time together. I understand that any time a government orders citizens to do something, there will be people who feel insulted and rebellious. I am pleading with you and the others who demand endless proof before adopting trivial measures to suspend disbelief and help protect the rest of us.

      1. It’s a judgment call whether inconveniencing or endangering oneself or others is worth whatever protection others feel they may get. It certainly depends on perceptions around both the amount of the inconvenience, and the amount of the ensuing protection.

        I sometimes drive over the speed limit as an example. If my perception is that excessive fear and paranoia is driving your judgment if my actions, I will feel less inclined to cater to you.

        We must respect people who make different value judgments around those things that others think they ought to. For example a current issue is whether the harms and inconvenience of keeping children away from schools is worth the added protection somebody such as yourself might receive from that measure. There is room for disagreements on risk assessments on both sides, and disagreements on value judgments on both sides. No side can be said to be definitively right or wrong.

        Respect.

        1. Author

          It is analogous to speeding. If you understand that if I get COVID I am almost certainly going to die, you might think more about the inconvenience of getting three shots or wearing a mask. If you care about children, you might not speed in a school zone when kids are walking home.

          1. “Almost Certainly” is likely an overstatement. Even without vaccines and on the earlier deadlier strain, males between 65-74 had a 3.1% Infection Fatality Rate (based on UK data) With the vaccination and with the weaker Omicron, that is likely lower (assuming you trust vaccinations are helpful for the older crowd – I do). So what, maybe 1 in 100? Not “almost certainly”.

            And if an unvaxed or unmasked limits their contact with higher risk groups (or they with them), the chance of not masking leading to death, even in the aggregate, is likely small., but of course every little bit helps, but every little bit, no matter how small, is not the right standard.

What do you think?