After reviewing the data from the last few weeks, I’ve decided to stop writing updates for now. Case counts continue to plummet, prophylactic drugs to treat Covid are widely available, and most places have dropped most, if not all, of their Covid restrictions.
I am acutely aware that this will be the third time I will stop writing these updates, and I hope it’s for good this time. This time does feel different.
As of today, there are no variants that are being tracked that are a concern. The BA.2 sub-variant of Omicron is more contagious. Still, there’s ample evidence of good cross-immunity and no signs that BA.2 is more fatal. Over the coming weeks, I believe that BA.2 will become the dominant strain in the US, and this may slightly slow the drop, but I do not think it will cause an uptick in case counts.
The development and distribution of monoclonal antibodies and Pfizers antiviral have permanently changed how we protect people. These drugs allow us to treat those that are at high risk of severe disease while letting Covid become the endemic infection we have long expected to be.
As for the vaccine for kids under five, I really don’t have a feel for when the FDA will approve one. They’ve jerked around the public so many times on the issue their current estimates of April lack credibility.
Across the US, many states and cities are dropping their mask requirements and most of the other restrictions that had been in place. Even in SF, the city relaxed its mask mandate for indoor events last week.
Moving forward, I don’t expect to see any large-scale restrictions. Over 900,000 Americans have died so far, and given our current death rate, we’ll end the year with a few hundred thousand more. The infection fatality rate for Covid has been getting close to that of the flu. I expect Covid will be as fatal or less fatal than flu moving forward with the new drugs.
As we learn the nuance and seasonality of Covid, I expect that we’ll have an annual booster, at least until we develop a more robust pan coronavirus vaccine. I expect that wearing masks on transit will become the norm for some, especially in the winter. Due to our actions, we managed to eliminate one of the major strains, which will help make future flu vaccines even more effective.
I went to a Warriors game this past week and a large [1,000+ people] indoor party. Everyone needed to have a clean test for the party within 36 hours, but both felt very safe to me.
It’s been a long, exhausting two years, but we made it. I have no doubt it’ll be years before we fully understand the long-term effects and changes to society based on the pandemic.
I’ve always written these updates to help inform my community and be a resource in a confusing, information-overloaded environment. I’m stopping because I think that we’re on a glide path to normalcy.
Post-Covid, I plan to write a set of essays on why I’m a climate optimist. Specifically, while we’ll be impacted by climate change, the situation is not nearly as dire as some believe. In fact, there’s never been a better time to get involved in climate-related matters, there’s so much incredible work happening, and there’s such an opportunity to make a huge impact.
As always, if Covid rears its’ ugly head, I’ll be back. Until then, take care, and feel free to reach out if you have any questions in the meantime.