What policymakers can aim for is not a total end to Covid-19 but a balancing act. On one side of that scale is containing Covid-19 with restrictions and precautions. On the other is resuming normal, pre-pandemic life. Vaccines have changed the balance by giving us the ability to contain Covid-19’s worst outcomes — hospitalization and death — with less weight on the side of restrictions. But vaccines alone can’t drive hospitalizations and deaths to zero if all the weight on the restriction side is removed.
In part, that was the point of my piece Teaching Secular Blasphemy. Given the fact that we are continually “behind the curve” in suppressing the virus, and the natural uncertainties built into processes like this, eliminating COVID altogether in a short time frame was a fool’s errand from the start. But our leaders–and that includes those in the public health community–played on Americans’ obsession with the “perfect life” concept. (And the Aussies have done that on steroids.) No one would admit that there were trade-offs in this whole process.
Perhaps this is a sign that a reality check is underway. Perhaps.