Friday, March 12, 2021

Vox and FiveThirtyEight on the future of COVID-19, a pandemic anniversary update

The same day I wrote One year of the COVID-19 pandemic in Michigan, Vox and FiveThirtyEight both observed the anniversary of the outbreak being declared a pandemic by uploading videos of their own about the prospects of containing the disease. I begin with Vox asking Can we get rid of Covid-19 forever?

How to eradicate a disease, in 4 steps.
As of March 2021, Covid-19 has killed more than 2.5 million people. It’s brought on a dramatic economic downfall, a mental health crisis, and has generally just put the world on pause. But we don’t have to look far back in history to see how much worse it could have been.

Smallpox was twice as contagious as Covid-19, and over 60 times as deadly. It plagued humanity for centuries, left many survivors blinded and covered in scars, and killed hundreds of millions of people in the 20th century alone. But today, smallpox has been eradicated. Through a massive global effort, we were able to wipe the disease completely out of existence.

So can we do the same thing with Covid-19? And if we can’t, what are our other options?
So Vox's answer is "probably not" for all the reasons it lists. However, it thinks the disease is likely to become endemic and turn into another childhood disease, a particularly nasty cold, while it can be contained in adults by vaccines.

FiveThirtyEight skipped the idea of elimination in its video uploaded the same day, Turning The COVID-19 Pandemic Into The COVID-19 Endemic l PODCAST-19 from FiveThirtyEight.

On this week’s episode of PODCAST-19, we discussed what the endgame of the pandemic will be. It likely isn’t society reaching herd immunity. And if herd immunity isn’t the goal, how should people behave once they’re vaccinated? We have a science-backed guide for how to evaluate what’s risky and what’s safe. (Note: This episode was published on our website on 3/5/2021.)
That's not terribly optimistic — FiveThirtyEight doesn't think the U.S. will achieve herd immunity — but it is a tolerable one. The pandemic will end, although at a high cost. Speaking of which, Meet The Press on NBC worried that One Year Later, Possible Fourth Wave of Covid Looms on Sunday.

On January 1st, 2020 the WHO announced the discovery of a mysterious case of pneumonia in Wuhan, China. Since then, there have been over 29 million cases in the U.S. and more than 526,500 deaths.
The next milestone will likely be 30 million cases in the U.S., which should happen before 600,000 deaths. I'll report on both when they happen, but probably not until after a string of holidays and holiday-like observances, like Daylight Saving Time, Pi Day, the Ides of March, St. Patrick's Day, the Vernal Equinox, Nowruz and the blog's tenth birthday, and World Water Day. Stay tuned for one of the more fun times of year on this blog as its tenth year draws to a close and its eleventh year begins!

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