Alas, we are seeing now the all too predictable – and predicted – third wave of COVID-19. The cause is simple: reckless behavior and reckless speech that is encouraging it.
“Herd Immunity” as advocated by the ‘Great Barrington Declaration’ is an abdication, not a strategy. The entire way it has been positioned is based on a false choice: total lockdown versus total Herd Immunity. Nobody is advocating “lock downs” since the original emergency action, which was taken to give us time to develop and implement a planned response. What public health leaders have been advocating for 6 months is an actual strategy of risk stratification, focusing resources on the vulnerable, and universal conformance with masks, testing, and quarantining exposures.
Soon, we will be able to add monoclonal antibodies into the fight, and vaccines in the latter half of 2021. But in the meantime this kind of reckless speech and behavior will cost additional tens – or hundreds – of thousands of lives that didn’t need to be sacrificed. The real world impact – which we are seeing play out right now – will be a huge spike in hospitalizations & deaths for the economically disadvantaged. The wealthy can afford to live in isolated homes & residential communities. The poor can’t. Meanwhile, 37% of Americans have a preexisting condition – starting with obesity – which increases their risk of severe disease. It’s going to be a dark winter.
For the remainder of the population that care enough to take action to protect themselves, their neighbors and their loved ones, this is a good time to revisit this great summary by Erin Bromage, on what you can do:
COVID-19 is a highly infectious, respiratory virus. But it doesn’t discriminate. All that you need to do to create your very own super-spreader event is to put people indoors, in proximity for a short period of time, without masks and handwashing. Exhibit A: the White House!
For those that want to dig into the data and the science of indoor transmission, here are some resources and recent studies.
- COVID-19 Superspreader Events in 28 Countries: Critical Patterns and Lessons
- EPA: Indoor Air and COVID-19 Key References and Publications
- UGA: Study supports airborne spread of COVID-19 indoors
- Aerosol transmission of SARS-CoV-2? Evidence, prevention and control