My watch has ended. This will be my last regular Covid post.
It's been 64 weeks since I started to write a weekly Covid update. I got some things right. I got many things wrong. Week in and out, I tried my best to distill what was new and where I thought the pandemic was headed. 50,000+ words later, I think it's time to hang up my spurs.
I'm stopping because the pandemic is ending. Over the last few weeks, we've seen case counts continue to drop, and even with the new variants, nothing has dramatically changed my view of the near future. If I keep writing, it means there's something to worry about, which I now sincerely believe there isn't.
My pandemic started on March 16th, 2020. When the lockdown order came, Conor and I went to get one last drink at True Laurel. Liya and Robb randomly walked in, and the four of us had one final toast. It was a wonderful last bit of normalcy, the calm before the coming storm.
My pandemic will end tomorrow, 448 days later, when I get on a plane to go to Las Vegas to attend World of Concrete.
To date, almost 600,000 Americans have died of Covid. A toll so staggering it resists any meaningful comparisons. So many have lost the ones they love to this disease. Even more people were hospitalized or are still struggling with the effects of long Covid.
This says nothing of the millions of medical professionals who worked day in and out in impossible conditions to do their best to save their patients. The untold horrors they had to witness will haunt some of them for years to come. We owe them a debt of gratitude that will probably never be fulfilled.
So where do we go from here?
In the US, it appears that we're on track to have 70% of adults vaccinated by July 4th. Case counts, hospitalizations, and deaths have continued to drop at a rapid clip. Vaccines for kids under 12 should come in the late summer. Both mRNA vaccines will get full approval sometime in July [vs. their emergency authorization].
The one wrinkle will be the Delta variant, formerly known as 1617.2.
Early reports out of the UK show that it is the most infectious variant to date. However, early work suggests that Delta does not meaningfully evade the vaccines for those people fully vaccinated. Go get your shots, both of them.
As the Delta variant becomes the dominant strain in the US, I expect to see some flare-ups in the states that are least vaccinated. Even then, these will be mild outbreaks, probably not even requiring lockdowns.
It will likely be some time before the case count hits zero, even in places with high levels of immunity. It's like a fire where even once it stops spreading, a few embers will burn for a bit.
At some point, there might be a need for a booster shot, but right now, I can't say one way or another.
Over the summer months, the US will fully return to normal. California is set to fully reopen in a week.
I don't take the decision to end my updates lightly. People have told me have they have helped throughout the pandemic. But after over a year of looking at the data, reading reports, and talking to scientists, I believe that we have beaten Covid in the US.
If something happens that I feel is relevant, I'll come back to write more. I'm also considering doing some focused posts on aspects of Covid, the response, and the silver linings of all the research. If there's anything you think might be interesting for me to write more about, just let me know.
It'll feel weird watching the rest of the world continue to struggle with lockdowns and rolling out vaccinations. The good news is that more and more doses are coming online and being exported. By the end of June, the Biden administration stated the US will have shipped over 80 million doses! Yesterday we delivered a million doses to South Korea!
The tracker I follow for worldwide immunity is projecting that by February 2022, we'll have 70% of the world dosed. This week we crossed over 2 billion doses administered. The last 500 million were done in the previous 16 days—just incredible progress.
The Black Death haunted our ancestors for over 200 years, and we're going to vanquish Covid in 2.
How do I feel?
Some days I'm angry and sad. So much pain, suffering, and death occurred that simply didn't have to. Masks became a political statement instead of an essential health measure we could use to save lives. Testing wasn't given the money it needed to help suppress the number of cases for political reasons. It didn't have to be this way.
Most days, I think about it and marvel at what we've accomplished. We've all now witnessed one of the greatest achievements in human history, and it took us all. No one person or company can take credit for ending this pandemic.
The groundwork that allowed us to move as fast as we have was laid decades ago; countless people enabled it. The researchers who tirelessly pursued mRNA vaccines and only really figured out how to make them work a few years ago. The scientists who studied SARS for years after it disappeared to understand how it infects us and characterized the spike protein.
Not even to mention the people who developed rapid sequencing technology that let us understand what Covid was, the people who built the modeling software that allowed us to quickly design vaccines, and all of that is built on top of the computers and internet we've made in the last 30 years. We live in a golden era of human technology, a future so incredible it's hard to even grasp it all.
Even then, that just got us the vaccine. Since then, we've built factories across the world to manufacture them. Then we enlisted millions of volunteers and medical professionals to inoculate people in every corner of the country. Stadiums and parking lots were turned into mass vaccination sites, and we put 300 million doses in arms in just six months.
Walking into Moscone Center for my first shot, I was overwhelmed. It's one of the proudest I've been as an American. Knowing what went into getting that shot to me reinforced that there's nothing we can't accomplish when we decide to. Now we're going to take it global and vaccinate most of the world in the next 9 months.
We did it! It took us coming together as a country, and we fucking won. Now we get to go back to our normalcy. Go hug your family, hang with your friends, go kiss a stranger, take a vacation! Go live!
Everyone gets to pick their own path on return to normal. Large events may feel weird for a bit. Honestly, there are times it feels like whiplash remembering what six months and a year ago felt like. But we've beaten Covid, and it's time to start to emerge.
As always, if you ever have questions or just want to chat, please just reach out. Otherwise, I'll see you all in the real world.