The Covid-19 vaccines are looking less like a miracle of modern science and more like typical government fare: Shoddy and overpriced.
You've likely heard this adage:
In the case of government programs, you only get to pick one.
We did get them fast, faster than most anyone expected.
I suppose that should not be the surprising part. It was, after all, called "Project Warp Speed." It was not called, "Project Super Effective," or "Project Fiscally Responsible."
Nope, we got them at warp speed alright, like a microwavable pizza.
You don't even have to claim that the vaccines are completely worthless, or engage in some of the more bizarre conspiracy theories out there to conclude that these are, as vaccines go, pretty bad at their job. They are the Ishtar of vaccines, the New Coke.
I can concede that they did, for a while, seem to prevent people from being infected, ending up in the hospital, and dying. But they are nothing like what they were sold to be early on. In fact, the authorities have been lowering expectations incrementally over the past year or so and hoping no one would notice.
People are noticing.
The vaccines were supposed to permit us to return to "normal." That's how they were originally sold.
Health officials are recommending lifting most COVID-19 restrictions for people who are fully vaccinated.
That means no more masks or social distancing, indoors or outdoors, according to updated guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
"If you are fully vaccinated, you can start doing the things that you had stopped doing because of the pandemic," said CDC Director Rochelle Walensky. "We have all longed for this moment."
That was eight months ago.
How's that going?
To attend Johns Hopkins, you have to have not two shots, but three.
You then still have to wear not one mask but two, or one N95/KN95.
And then, you still have to get tested not once, but twice weekly.
But hey, at least after all that you still get to eat alone!
It's not just universities, either. Mask mandates have either remained in place, or been reinstated throughout large portions of the country - including public schools - social distancing remains broadly recommended, there's a mad rush for testing kits, and triple-vaccinated multi-masked people are still getting (and spreading) the virus.
Google "did everything right still got covid," and you get this:
What we've been finding out lately, and what would have gotten you kicked off social media for saying out loud, is that the vaccines' efficacy was wearing off, and wearing off quickly.
So, what to do?
Originally, nothing. This is what the CDC had to say about the need for boosters last July:
The United States is fortunate to have highly effective vaccines that are widely available for those aged 12 and up. People who are fully vaccinated are protected from severe disease and death, including from the variants currently circulating in the country such as Delta....
Americans who have been fully vaccinated do not need a booster shot at this time. FDA, CDC, and NIH are engaged in a science-based, rigorous process to consider whether or when a booster might be necessary.
They sounded pretty optimistic!
Then less than a month later, they had to this to say:
Based on our latest assessment, the current protection against severe disease, hospitalization, and death could diminish in the months ahead, especially among those who are at higher risk or were vaccinated during the earlier phases of the vaccination rollout. For that reason, we conclude that a booster shot will be needed to maximize vaccine-induced protection and prolong its durability.
"Maximize vaccine-induced protection."
It's "maximizing" in the way fixing a leak that you thought you had already fixed last spring maximizes your ability to take a hot shower.
This is not about maximizing anything, its about the fact that the vaccines were failing in a way they either hadn't expected, or just hoped they wouldn't have to deal with.
They expanded their booster recommendations again in September and boostermania really took off from there.
Pretty much everyone down to 12 years of age is now supposed to get a booster six months after their original vaccination regimen was completed.
I'm sorry, did I say six months?
Not to be outdone, the EU upped the ante with three months!
The European Union's drugs regulator said it could make sense to administer COVID-19 vaccine boosters as early as three months after the initial two-shot regimen amid "extremely worrying" infection numbers in the region.
Moderna, smelling an opportunity, started talking about a fourth shot.
Just keep those "vaccines" coming, which I feel justified in placing in scare quotes given they are acting less like vaccines, and well, this is how Alex Berenson put it last year in a tweet.
Don't think of it as a vaccine.
Think of it - at best - as a therapeutic with a limited efficacy and terrible side effect profile that must be dosed IN ADVANCE OF ILLNESS.
That's the tweet that got him banned, a tweet that was nothing if not prophetic.
The thing is, the authorities' changing guidance was in fact based on changing data, so that much is good. When the data changes, your recommendations should too, and the data suggests that there is no reason to mandate vaccines.
At least we have a solution, right? More vaccine!
The problem is what many of us instinctively thought might be a problem, and why I am not particularly interested in getting a booster:
European Union regulators warned that frequent Covid-19 booster shots could adversely affect the immune response and may not be feasible.
Repeat booster doses every four months could eventually weaken the immune response and tire out people, according to the European Medicines Agency. Instead, countries should leave more time between booster programs and tie them to the onset of the cold season in each hemisphere, following the blueprint set out by influenza vaccination strategies, the agency said.
I had asked in the headline whether or not we are now permitted by our tech overlords to note all of this, to note that the vaccines are not living up to expectations, are not allowing us to return to our normal lives, and are not something we can keep taking forever.
You know the answer.
Ah, yes, Politifact, the Praetorian Guard of the elite.
No vaccine is 100% effective. And while vaccines have not eradicated COVID-19, they have provided significant protection. The aim of booster shots is to extend the protection the vaccines provide. Other vaccines, such as the tetanus vaccine, come with standard timetables for recommended boosters.
Strawmen arguments, of course. "No vaccine is 100% effective"? Okay, we know that.
"Other vaccines, such as the tetanus vaccine, come with standard timetables for recommended boosters." Yes they do, five to ten years as I recall.
Not every 3 to 5 months, and certainly not with the same side-effect profile.
None of that is the point, of course, but Politifact doesn't care. Shut up and take your boosters when you're told to. I hear the fourth season of Ozark drops on Netflix this month. Go binge that and await further instructions.
The annoying thing is the dishonesty.
I am not an anti-vaxxer. I'm not even particularly anti this vaccine. If you're an 85-year-old with diabetes, the risk parameters are different for you.
But this is a virus that for most of us is a big nothingburger. Yes, there is risk, arguably more if you are unvaccinated. But there are risks to the vaccine as well, and they appear to get worse the more shots you get.
And that's just what they're willing to admit to.
Treat us like adults. Tell us the truth. The vaccine failed in its initial mission. It just did. Even if you think it still has worth, it's not what was advertised. That's indisputable, and the more you try to tell us otherwise, the more you try to tell us not to believe our own eyes, the less we will believe anything you say.
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