For the first time ever, I wrote a column internet first, print second. I guess the times are changing.
For years, I have been writing this column for the print edition and then exporting it to our website. Not this time.
There were two reasons for this. The first was to link observations in my column to research studies and other websites so readers could click and see my sources.
I am not a doctor, epidemiologist, virologist, immunologist, economist or statistician. I am a reporter. What I do is report what experts say. I am a professional at that, an expert.
Believe me, experts say a lot of different things. They rarely agree and often disagree vehemently. My role is to present these diverse viewpoints to my readers so they can make up their own minds.
The second reason is timeliness. Things are moving so fast with COVID-19. The internet is several days ahead of our printed edition.
I believe there is a role for both print and web. Print will end up being more of a reflective review. It has lost the immediacy war with the web. But its tactile feel and attempts at objectivity (at least in my company) will still appeal to a segment of readers. In the deluge of screen images, print is refreshing.
If you want to read my latest COVID-19 commentary complete with dozens of links to studies and other articles, go to northside sun.com. Then look for the search bar on the upper right of the screen and type in “herd immunity.” This column should be the second selection. Click on the headline.
Believe me, I am sick and tired of writing about COVID-19 and can’t wait until this is no longer the overwhelming issue of the day. But that day is not yet here. It will be, I believe, and sooner rather than later.
It’s now the end of July, and the elephant in the room is school. Will our children be going back to classrooms, and what does that look like?
We have three ways to deal with COVID-19: shelter at home, a vaccine or herd immunity.
A vaccine would be manna from heaven, and there is a lot of good news on that front.
There is a downside. Vaccines can be dangerous, and the pressure to cut corners could lead to great harm. That being said, many experts are optimistic a vaccine will be available before the end of this year. Praise the Lord!
Shelter at home, in my humble opinion, does not offer much promise at this point. Been there. Done that. Didn’t work. Destroyed the economy, risking even more lives.
I was OK with sheltering at home for a month, which is the average time it takes a person to get over the disease. Instead, it ended up being more than two months.
Then when we came back out, the virus was still there, just waiting for us. And here we are, back where we started except with a wrecked economy and 30 million jobs lost.
Maybe we didn’t lock down well enough. But that is neither here nor there. It’s the lay of the land. People are people and you can only get them to do so much.
As for masks, I am 100 percent for them if it can stop us from shutting down again. Wearing a mask is a trivial inconvenience compared to locking down.
That leaves herd immunity, which was the subject of my first-ever, internet-first column. For those who think I’m ignoring the experts and want to understand why, I suggest you read my column online, where everything is referenced and linked.
Why are so many people against herd immunity? It is nature’s way of dealing with viruses and it has brought us to 7 billion strong.
If you Google “herd immunity” you find article after article saying herd immunity is a pipe dream. Yet there is an increasing body of evidence that the COVID-19 herd immunity threshold is as low as 10 to 20 percent. The mainstream media ignores this. Why?
If there is no herd immunity, why are Europe and the U.S. Northeast seeing hardly any surge as they reopen? If there is no herd immunity, why have Swedish cases dropped to a third and deaths dropped to a tenth of the peak — when they had the least restrictive COVID-19 response in the world?
Right now, we are seeing a surge in California, Texas, Florida and even Mississippi. Why? Because we shut down before the virus took hold. We delayed the inevitable. We haven’t yet gone through the painful process of developing herd immunity. The virus will run its course and then peter out. That’s what viruses do.
No doubt, the huge increase in testing is a big factor in the huge increase of cases. It’s almost one for one.
Hospitalizations and deaths are another matter. Deaths are stable so far, but hospitalizations in Mississippi are up significantly, and it’s scary. The good news is that the rate of this increase is much lower than the case load.
In the U.S., cases are now double the spring peaks, yet deaths are one-third the spring peaks. That’s a six-fold decrease in lethality. That’s very good news, if it holds up.
New studies have discovered that half of us may already be immune to COVID-19 because of our exposure to the four common cold coronaviruses. That makes herd immunity much closer than we thought. We’re at 50 percent without doing anything.
This immunity comes not from antibodies, but from the “memory” of white blood cells and it may last for years. This would explain why half the people who test positive are asymptomatic.
The increase in ICU beds is alarming, but as of this week, Mississippi still has 19 percent of beds available.
We can do this. Wear masks. Wash your hands. Social distance. Don’t panic. Sleep and eat well. Get outside and exercise. Pray. Meditate. Carry on.