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Reaching ‘Herd Immunity’ from Covid Is Unlikely in the U.S., Experts Now Believe (nytimes.com)
57 points by harambae 11 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 211 comments





> Polls show that about 30 percent of the U.S. population is still reluctant to be vaccinated. That number is expected to improve but probably not enough. “It is theoretically possible that we could get to about 90 percent vaccination coverage, but not super likely, I would say,” said Marc Lipsitch, an epidemiologist at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

This is really poor, positive vaccine sentiment in the UK has increased to 94% (late March) since December 2020 and actual take-up in my area isn't far off (about 91%). That's almost 1 in 3 people in the US who are reluctant to get vaccinated.

Is this an education problem? Is there not a consistent minimum science curriculum for K-12 which covers pathogens, treatments and the history of vaccination programmes? Are there other factors that are relevant?


It's not an education problem. It's an ideology problem. A huge fraction of the country has basically lost all faith in public and academic institutions. In these polarized times, when many leaders that institution-skeptics listen to decided to make COVID a political issue in the ongoing culture war, listening to public health recommendations (including masking, vaccination) is akin to "letting the other side win".

Earlier in the vaccine rollout, some minority populations were skeptical of the vaccine for more historically-grounded reasons (i.e. historical discrimination/abuses in the healthcare system), but that skepticism has faded dramatically [1] as more and more people get the vaccine. Only one group [2] has been pretty consistently unwilling to get the vaccine, and it's tightly coupled to the same ideological alignments that are dividing society in all political and social arenas.

More education won't change deeply-held ideological beliefs.

[1] https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/more-and-more-americans...

[2] https://morningconsult.com/2021/03/24/trump-covid-vaccine-re...


I don't think it was "institution skeptics" who made COVID a political issue. How many months did it take before academics were claiming that anti-lockdown protests were dangerous and must not happen but BLM protests were to be encouraged, because "systemic racism" is a public health issue? Not many. How many other academics condemned this blatant politicization of science? Not enough.

Lockdowns don't work: US states that locked down hard have not seen different results from those that had far fewer restrictions. Sweden has been less impacted than the UK and many other European countries that locked down hard. Have academic institutions ever acknowledged that, or accepted that their predictions were wrong? They do not. The ones I've seen just claim anyone who disagrees with them is an ideologically motivated anti-science conspiracy theorist.

These things are not the right way to re-assure people institutions are on top of things. They clearly are not.


Lockdown worked fine in New Zealand it not? The thing is, it’s something you have to commit to. You can’t just half ass it.

You realize they achieved this by effectively locking down their borders right? Now, imagine the response if Trump had suggested this. Actually, you don't even need to imagine it:

https://www.huffpost.com/entry/trump-coronavirus-borders_n_5...


That article is from 2020-03-12. By that day, we had a total of 40 deaths and 1.5k confirmed cases. It was pretty obviously spreading within the US at that point, and just closing the borders wasn't going to stop it. Headlines for context:

> Trump Appears More Concerned With Closing Borders Than Testing For Coronavirus

> The president has characterized the pandemic as a “foreign virus” and suggested that banning people from other countries is key to fixing the outbreak at home.


Where did I say anything about "just closing the borders"? Yes multiple approaches are necessary. My point was that if Trump had tried the same tactics NZ did he would have been met with vitriol about how racist and xenophobic he was. People still won't admit that his administration was responsible for getting the vaccine out in a timely manner.

NZ had the obvious benefit of being an island with a low population that was able to easily lock their borders down and keep people socially distanced. They didn't pull off some miracle that no one else can figure out.


> if Trump had tried the same tactics NZ did he would have been met with vitriol about how racist and xenophobic he was.

This point doesn't follow from the article you linked. The HuffPo article has two major complaints:

1) Trump's major focus on dealing with covid at the moment was the existing travel restrictions for China and the new restrictions for Europe. He should have pivoted to addressing the internal spread within the US.

2) Trump was trying to direct blame to specific nationalities/ethnic groups instead of saying that anyone and any travel could be spreading the virus. They were deflect blame by calling it the "Wuhan virus" and "China coronavirus".

I guess the point I'm trying to make is that the manner he closed the borders was xenophobic. Furthermore, he wasn't doing the things necessary to stop the internal spread, and those were more important once the virus arrived. NZ's new cases only started falling in mid-April, a month after Trump's expanded travel restrictions. Additional travel restrictions were necessary, but not sufficient to reduce covid's impact.

http://91-divoc.com/pages/covid-visualization/?chart=countri...


There are some mitigating factors. The primary purpose of a border closure is to prevent, or at least control, the introduction of the virus into the country, especially to let the health services prepare better. Viewed from this context, Trump's border closures look especially asinine:

* The closure (at least with respect to Europe) occurred by which time it was widely known that the US had uncontrolled community spread.

* The closure applied only to non-Americans, which made it a really, really porous closure. New Zealand's closure applied both to Kiwis and non-Kiwis.

* The administration of the closure was also chaotic and inept. There was no real effort to screen for COVID-19 among the many people who were let in during the closure, and the fact that the arrival halls were jam-packed with people only exacerbated any potential spread that might have happened.

* Similarly, there was no real effort to use the time afforded by the closure (even had it been more effective) to improve testing and tracing infrastructure.

* The actual announcement of the rollout was extremely botched--the White House had to issue three separate statements afterwards correcting Trump's announcement.

* Finally, it's been pretty clear in the months since then that Trump believes that being proactive in the (ineffective) closure efforts is all that he should have done in response to the coronavirus, especially given his pretty active resistance to any further measures.


This, so much this. Sure businesses were shut down or significantly restricted in the US, but people commingled anyway. You shut down one vector, but everyone flocked to other, unsanctioned ones. We failed at our own attempts because we didn't commit.

Conversely, places like Sweden didn't require significant legal restrictions because they have a sense of societal responsibility. When leaders told them to restrict their movement, they listened. They didn't do it as perfectly as if it were enforced or ordered, but they listened (and probably better than Americans listened).


Was it lockdowns or was it border closures or was it the geographical location of New Zealand or was it chance?

This is the whole problem with the pro-lockdown position. It's turned into an exercise in cherry picking. We don't need to do this, we have global datasets and those can be analysed to try and detect correlations between policies and outcomes. When this analysis has been done, there are no correlations.

Here's a summary of an unusually thorough analysis of global geography vs excess mortality:

https://lockdownsceptics.org/2021/05/03/geography-not-lockdo...

Here's an analysis of mortality vs control stringency across all US states:

https://lockdownsceptics.org/2021/04/24/more-people-died-in-...

Here's a published, peer reviewed paper which says the same thing:

https://www.thelancet.com/journals/eclinm/article/PIIS2589-5...

The thing is, it’s something you have to commit to. You can’t just half ass it.

Some countries have now accrued more public debt than after World War 2. At some point, even the most ardent true believers in this policy have to accept that if entire continents can take measures as extreme as they have done and get no results whatsoever then it is a failed policy.


thu2111 says >"Some countries have now accrued more public debt than after World War 2. At some point, even the most ardent true believers in this policy have to accept that if entire continents can take measures as extreme as they have done and get no results whatsoever then it is a failed policy."<

Wow! This is the best takeaway of this discussion and possibly one of the most quotable statements (and posts) ever made concerning the Covid-19 lockdowns. My hat is off to you, sir.


Lockdown worked amazingly in Singapore as well.

No US state even came close to “locking down.” You had these ineffective stay-at-home orders, ignored mask mandates, unenforced travel restrictions, and unevenly enforced business closures. It was almost entirely voluntary, and therefore widely ignored.

Throughout the entire year, if I wanted to, I could easily drive out of my county, sit down at an indoor restaurant, and party indoors without a mask, and there would be absolutely zero police action to stop me. What kind of lockdown is that?


except, these ideological beliefs are only intrinsictly deep, sparked by the republican desire to have as many polticially potent tools for their trade.

this belief is only a year ood. its not same centuries old belief,


> lost all faith in public and academic institutions

The people wearing masks outside, what are they afraid of and where are they placing their faith?


> It's not an education problem. It's an ideology problem.

Ideology is formed via education


I think the OP was asking if it's an education problem as in, do people just not understand what a vaccine is or how it works? But that's not the issue really. The information is out there; people are just choosing to ignore it or cling to "alternative facts" for some as yet poorly understood reason.

Because critical thinking skills are severely lacking due to - you guessed it, poor education.

I think it's more complicated than that.

I’d argue that ideology is what fills in the voids that education hasn’t already reached. It’s like some kind of spray-foam that takes up whatever space that hasn’t yet been filled with educated thought.

The line between ("good") education and ("bad") ideology is not nearly this clear. Religions run schools for a reason. Canada started Residential Schools, and China started vocational training in Xinjiang, all for the same reason. You can call it continuing the culture, or passing on the traditions, or inculcating values, or working for progress, or social change, or cultural genocide, depending on your bent. It's the war for minds. And young minds are impressionable.

Another way of putting this is that schools are organs of ideological reproduction.

Part of it is that many Americans loudly distrust the government, and other systems of power. This isn't all that irrational, because these institutions have routinely proven themselves to be untrustworty.

Then there are people who are normally on board with vaccines, who are reluctant for covid because it is brand new. Just like any sysadmin worth their salt doesn't blindly install every update the moment they come out. If I didn't have a compromised immune system I probably would have waited at least another year before getting my shots.

So sure, it's selfish, but its not stupid.


Even the vote during the elections is selfish. And in general stupid.

>This is really poor, positive vaccine sentiment in the UK has increased to 94% (late March) since December 2020 and actual take-up in my area isn't far off (about 91%). That's almost 1 in 3 people in the US who are reluctant to get vaccinated.

Blame the media and hypocritical politicians who talk out both sides of their mouths. You can't expect the citizens to want the vaccine while simultaneously doing sensationalist stories on very rare side effects.

Even Fauci and the CDC to be promoting the idea that the vaccine isn't that effective. Get the vaccine! You still have to wear masks, social distance, and effectively stay locked down! That's not making it sound like you think the vaccine is effective at all.... On top of that they seem to double down on more authoritarian rhetoric which just causes more distrust. News flash: vaccine passports and forced contact tracing don't make people think your intentions are altruistic.


Maintaining other interventions reduces the overshoot and makes the pandemic go away faster, it isn't an assessment of the vaccines.

(Vaccinated people wearing masks doesn't make a huge difference, but it reduces friction for places like stores to just require masks instead of trying to communicate and enforce a mixed policy)


Not my point. I'm telling you that sort of rhetoric will produce an anti-vax response. It's a piss poor understanding of social reactions by the CDC/government. They will convince none of those people to get the vaccine if they continue on that path.

You can make the same argument for just about anything they say.

> Even Fauci and the CDC to be promoting the idea that the vaccine isn't that effective. Get the vaccine! You still have to wear masks, social distance, and effectively stay locked down!

This isn't because they don't trust the vaccines, it's because we haven't had enough time yet to figure out if vaccinated people can still actually spread the virus. So far, the data suggests no, but the CDC wants to play it safe.


>This isn't because they don't trust the vaccines, it's because we haven't had enough time yet to figure out if vaccinated people can still actually spread the virus. So far, the data suggests no, but the CDC wants to play it safe.

Not my point. I don't care what they actually think. I'm telling you how it's perceived by the citizens who are weary about receiving it. It looks bad and they really need a better PR department if they want more people to trust them.


> the CDC wants to play it safe

Isn't having a policy that significantly reduces the number of people who will take the vaccine the opposite of "playing it safe"?


I would argue that anybody who thinks "Why bother getting the vaccine if I'll still have to stay locked down/masked/etc" probably would be avoiding the vaccine anyways, and this is just a convenient excuse.

Why do you think that? It's a risk-reward balance. Why wouldn't increasing the reward tip the scales?

At this point, we know there is close to zero risk to getting vaccinated. How much reward do we need to convince people to do it?

Right now, the reward is close to zero too. Basically the only things the CDC lets you do after being vaccinated are things you've been able to get away with the whole time anyway.

Close to zero? You mean the likelihood of catching COVID dropping to nearly zero is worthless to you?

Also, lockdowns are likely to continue until COVID numbers drop. COVID numbers won't drop until more people get vaccinated.

The thought of "vaccines are pointless since you'll still have to mask" is extremely short-sighted.


But now you have the Prisoner's Dilemma working against you. If things won't go back to normal until 60% or 70% or 80% or 90% of people get the vaccine, and getting it yourself before then doesn't give you anything, the rational but selfish thing to do is say "I'll let everyone else get the vaccine but pass on it myself. I'll get the benefit of normality without the risk of side effects."

As for this:

> Close to zero? You mean the likelihood of catching COVID dropping to nearly zero is worthless to you?

If someone has been offered the vaccine but chose not to get it, I think they would say yes to this.


It's like "safer cars are pointless since you still have to wear your seat belt."

> You can't expect the citizens to want the vaccine while simultaneously doing sensationalist stories on very rare side effects.

Only 6% of people in Ireland say they won't take the vaccine, despite both the media and government here making a _much_ bigger deal of the side effects (J&J is _still_ restricted to people over 50, and both it and AZ were temporarily withdrawn from use), so it's probably not that.

There is maybe an argument that the media shouldn't talk about side effects, but it's a very paternalistic one and likely to, if anything, increase distrust.


No I don’t think it’s education. I think it’s a mistrust of a system that has screwed people over for money many times in recent memory.

Many healthcare workers originally said they weren’t willing to get the vaccine[0], people who are clearly educated, maybe not specifically about vaccines, but about medicine in general.

[0] https://www.msn.com/en-gb/news/world/nearly-40percent-of-hea...


If you want a deep dive on this, Peter Attia's last two guests on his podcast were great

1. https://peterattiamd.com/peterhotez3/ Peter Hotez on the history of anti-vax 2. https://peterattiamd.com/pauloffit2/ Paul Offit on the outlook for the coronavirus based on the current data


I'm not sure "traditional" anti-vax history or ideology is particularly relevant to the specific matter of anti-covid-vax.

The vast majority of those who eschew the current efforts have no problem with the TDAP vaccines, etc.

It's almost entirely political, along with a mistrust of the experts and authorities who proclaimed, in March of last year, that masks are ineffective and that travel restrictions are racist.


Antivax tendencies have become related to political identification in the US in a rather unusual way; I don't think this has really happened anywhere else. At the extreme, various polls show that about 50% of Republican men won't take the vaccine when offered. This is particularly dangerous because political identification in the US is highly regionalised, so there's a risk of pockets of permanently heavily under-vaccinated population.

Don't people who've been infected count toward the herd immunity. That ~30% of Americans. I know there's some overlap but if we can get to 70% of people vaccinated I think we'd be really close, no?

The flaw with these kinds of statements is that it assumes the 70% is uniformly distributed throughout a population. Obviously, if an entire town decides to avoid vaccination, it'll be vulnerable. Less obvious is if certain social circles don't get vaccinated such that things look geographically well mixed, but in terms of actual interaction patterns, not so much.

Reinfection and new variants surviving in networks like this imply COVID will be around for a very long time.


Israel has 60% vaccinated and they have controlled the pandemic through that. The US probably has more natural immunity than them so overall I’d say we are in a decent position. The issue will be localized outbreaks in places with less vaccine coverage.

There have been high-profile cases of re-infection in India, and the experience from Manaus tells the same story. Expecting herd immunity from letting the disease spread is wishful thinking.

It's important to understand why reinfection might not be such a big problem.

First, the virus can only spread broadly with an R0 above 1. Even if some portion of the population is susceptible to reinfection (vaccinated or natural immunity), so far there's been little evidence that it's widespread. In a fully vaccinated population, the R0 will only reach above 1 if the virus is able to break through vaccines wholesale.

Second, the vaccines seem to be highly effective at preventing serious cases, hospitalizations, and deaths, even in reinfected individuals.


There has been 70 cases and 3 deaths of reinfection worldwide [0]. If this source is not false, reinfection is negligible, and I am yet unconvinced herd immunity will not materialise

[0] https://bnonews.com/index.php/2020/08/covid-19-reinfection-t...


No matter what you'd see greatly reduced spread. Ideally everyone would be vaccinated, but it would be unwise to ignore the substantial overlap between antivax people and antimask people. Everything pushing R beneath 1 is a good thing that should be counted.

>Is this an education problem? Is there not a consistent minimum science curriculum for K-12 which covers pathogens, treatments and the history of vaccination programmes? Are there other factors that are relevant?

I think it is more complicated than just education. The general sentiment I hear from people is in the past we were told that once we get vaccinated we could return to normal. Now we are told we still need to wear a mask, socially distance, not go back to our offices, can't send our kids to school, etc. Many people figure if that is the case why bother taking the vaccine, especially since they haven't even been FDA approved and are using newer methods (mrna) without long term testing on the effects. Some scientists are saying we cannot return to normal until there are no new cases while also saying it will become seasonal and be with us forever. People are losing faith in the scientists because of their ever changing statements.

It may be the wrong mentality but in my view it is understandable.


>People are losing faith in the scientists because of their ever changing statements.

I'd say this perfectly illustrates the complete lack of understanding of how science works among the public. There is never one specific stance that will always be right and hold up to all scrutiny. It's just highly intelligent educated experts giving their best possible estimate based on current data. As the data evolves, so do the recommendations. People not understanding this is the root of the "experts know nothing" insanity.


I agree a general lack of understanding of the scientific method is a large part of the issue. I think an additional issue is how some politicians/political individuals treat science--"Scientists say X, therefore X is now gospel, and anyone who even questions X is morally at fault and an uneducated idiot."

Those sorts of inflammatory, controversial statements get amplified far more loudly than the actual statements of scientists, which are generally, "We think X is the best method, so we're trying this for now. But we have limited data, and as we learn more, we may have to adjust things in the future."

If the public only hears the first kind of statement (which are the type that fill social media news feeds), they're quickly going to grow skeptical of "Scientists say X" statements. Which appears to be exactly what's happening for some people.


It'd be really nice if that were the case. Unfortunately, at least in many countries, it's been scientists/academics attacking anyone who questioned the reliability of scientific output.

For sure, politicians deserve their fair share of the blame, but they're by and large not the ones attacking people who say "you have limited data and it does not seem to support your conclusions". Nor are they the source of all the anti-COVID policies that now control people lives, nor are they routinely presenting the output of entirely unverified models as "science" that is beyond any rational questioning. Boris Johnson has been reported to have been furious about how he and other ministers were repeatedly bounced into policies he disagrees with by scientists who instantly run to the press and claim he's ignoring The Science/doesn't care about lives/will kill millions if he doesn't do exactly as told today without even the tiniest delay to double check things. And then days later the data presented by these experts has been torn apart by people who simply downloaded and double checked the maths.

To put it bluntly, people are losing trust in academics because they keep doing untrustworthy things. It's not a failing of the public, or a result of distortion of what innocent scientists are saying. It's an accurate perception of what's really been happening.


You make some good points, and it raises a question I've been wondering about. My scientist friends--those who are working in labs and doing actual research--have all been really hesitant to make any hard claims about COVID since the very beginning. Pretty much every conversation I have with them is, "We don't know, we think X, but it's way to early to be certain."

On the flip side, as you've pointed out, some of the scientists advising policy seem to have... not that attitude. They present theories as hard facts, and then confuse the public when those "hard facts" turn out to be only partially true or even false.

My question is why there's an apparent disconnect between the on-the-ground scientists in their labs, and the policy-advising scientists. Is it because the policy-advising scientists worry they'll lose their jobs if they don't sound certain? Is it because they worry the public won't listen if they don't sound like they 100% know what they're doing? Is it purely political motives? A mix of all three?

I have no idea, and I don't know nearly enough about the biology field to even begin to guess. But I wish someone who's more well-versed on the topic would write an article about this.


Mmm, it's a good question. Completely agree we need far more journalism on these topics. Unfortunately the media can't do it because science journalists are all dependent on academia for stories and find it tough to bite the hand that feeds them.

The biggest problems seem to be with scientists who don't actually work in labs, people that in industry we'd call data scientists. There's nothing to ground them in the real world, no clear research directions or high level goals, and it's too easy to just manipulate the data or ignore data that disproves prior papers. It's possible your friends are better because they work in labs.

But there's also another possibility, and it's not a pleasant one to ask about, but have you actually downloaded and read papers published by your friends? One thing that becomes apparent when you dig into this is that researchers are very willing to give their friends/colleagues a heavily hedged conclusion, whilst telling the public that their conclusion is not merely unarguable fact, but also an absolute scientific consensus that demands immediate government action. This is part of the reason why academics are losing trust; open access has happened, the internet has happened, and now it's easy to download their papers to see the contradictions for yourself. An example would be Flaxman et al 2020 which attempted to prove that lockdowns worked. It set up a model that could only conclude that lockdowns worked (because it had no component to represent any sort of natural decline and for other reasons), and admitted half way through that this made the results unrealistic. But by the time those same researchers were publishing press releases on the university website and giving interviews, they were claiming there was now solid proof that lockdowns had saved millions of lives. Same people, totally different stories and in ways that were not innocent mistakes. Journalists deserve at least some blame for not treating their sources adversarially but the deception was originally coming from the researchers, not the press. A related problem seen in the UK is the way that predictions assigned near 100% certainty are suddenly rewritten as having been mere "scenarios" the moment someone corners a scientist and shoves a graph of real measurements in their face.

And then there are the other issues.

One is surely filtering related. When you look at the composition of the SAGE advisory council in the UK, you discover that one influential member is a lifetime member of the British Communist Party! Another is in an open relationship with a woman who's a part of Extinction Rebellion. Their leader was a man who apparently shocked his friends when he joined GlaxoSmithKline because of his lifelong open hatred for corporations and pharma firms of any kind. These people aren't at all normal or representative of the general population's views, so how does that happen? Some of it is that academia selects for people who want to be judged by impact rather than e.g. their salary size. And some of it must be a question of who chases after advisory roles to governments. A double selection effect, in other words.

Another is the certainty aspect that you allude to. The most influential "scientists" are actually modellers, not scientists. They insist that they are scientists, but the scientific method is MIA in fields like epidemiology. If you read their papers you'll find lots of predictions and no followups to measure the accuracy of the predictions. It's just one long run of model outputs, presented alongside the inevitable policy recommendations, but when you go digging through a reverse citation search to look for followups where the model accuracy is calculated, you come up with nothing. Why are the most influential scientists these people? Well, exactly because they use their models to generate policies. They tell politicians, "our scientific models say X will happen if you do Y and if you don't there will be an enormous crisis that everyone will blame you for". The politicians meanwhile feel they can't push back, even if they intuit the truth that the claim is scientifically unsupportable, because academics are very good at making jargon filled and very technical arguments involving lots of maths. Some papers have obvious errors, but when they're pointed out academics just blast people with even more pseudo-science along with many claims of criticising in bad faith, not being legitimate, etc. You need to have copious free time and an extremely high degree of confidence with logic, stats and programming to correctly see through the BS they are capable of generating. The media can't do it and immediately fall in line, politicians then then feel they have to follow. The only people who do push back end up being a motley assortment of bloggers, often retired or out-of-field, who have the free time and career immunity to wade through the morass pointing out the errors. Journals rarely publish them of course, because they also can't bite the hand that feeds them, and science journalists don't know how to evaluate arguments except via reference to institutional hierarchies so just ignore them. But most people don't have those limits, so more and more people find the articles written by those newly-born "skeptics", read them, realise the arguments make sense and their faith in science declines. The institutions wail about disinformation without realising that they're the ones generating it.

The whole system is locked in this feedback loop and because academia is so heavily government funded there's no obvious way to break it. There are no penalties for doing bad science, as even many scientists will admit, but plenty of rewards. So public confidence in research will continue to fall until it reaches the same level as journalists or politicians, perhaps even less given that those people are at least in direct competition with each other whereas academics aren't (or rather, the competition they're in does not select for anything the public cares about). Eventually you will get a new generation of politicians who openly attack scientists in the same way that Trump openly attacked the press. There will be calls for defunding which will be responded to with more bans, more censorship, more street protests and more chaos. What comes after? Only the future knows.


The data didn't evolve, though. The only thing that ever changed was the political winds. Throughout this whole pandemic, experts have bent over backwards to defend and justify political decisions--and most humiliatingly, decisions that _directly_ contravene their prior advice. Two examples:

- Experts encouraged the George Floyd protests because "racism is the real virus," despite their prior anti-protest stance. Given the apparent magnitude and seriousness of the problem, it's curious they only noticed in May 2020.

- In Washington, there was a big battle around opening schools. Public health authorities insisted that this was a verrryyy fraught process that needed to be handled veeerrrryyy slowly and veerryyy carefully. In the middle of this, Gov. Jay Inslee suddenly demanded that the schools be opened in a matter of weeks. The authorities weren't perturbed in the least: after all, they suddenly claimed, "we've known all along that the risk to children is very manageable".

Most people understand that mistakes happen, and they are generally forgiving when those mistakes are acknowledged and corrected. But it's plain to see that the sort of "expertise" that's being held up is deeply and pathologically broken.


Politicians don't make decisions based on the opinions of experts, they make them based on what they think is going to win them the next election.

Yeah, public health authorities might be saying we need to be careful with reopening schools, but if 70% (This is an example number pulled out of my ass, not an actual poll number) of the population wants schools to reopen because parents are tired of their kids being home all day, then dammit the governor is going to reopen the schools, expert testimony be damned.


The governor isn't the bad guy here. It's the supposed experts whose "neutral" opinions are politically contingent.

Parents: open the schools.

Experts: no, it's unsafe.

Progressive politician: open the schools.

Experts: great idea sir, just as we've been saying all along!


I don't think I've seen any experts saying to open the schools.

I'm sure you could cherry-pick a few doctors saying we should open them (And Fox News will absolutely give them a megaphone), but you can find doctors that think MMR vaccines cause autism. But the overall consensus AFAIK has always been to keep the schools closed.


>It's just highly intelligent educated experts giving their best possible estimate based on current data.

OK, but can we trust them to completely put out of their mind the interests of the people signing their paychecks? Do the people signing the paychecks blindly hire scientists without considering whether the scientists will be mindful of their interests?


The issue with changing their statements is not so much that they changed their statements, but how certain they were with their original statements. Some of the scientists did not start their statements with stuff like "with the available data we believe". They made it sound like what they were saying was 100% determined. Anybody who disagreed (even if it is now the prevailing view) was called anti-science.

It is not strictly just the scientists making statements based on the available data, but them explicitly lying.

Some of the scientists said masks were not needed for the general population. This is understandable since they wanted people who were at the greatest threat to have enough masks. The problem is when some of the earliest statements they made were lies people lose trust.


I wince thinking back to that interview with Fauci early in the pandemic when he explicitly told people that we didn't need to wear masks. That statement became a massive weapon in the hands of the anti-maskers.

The problem is, I'm not sure what Fauci could have said that would have been better. People are irrational, and he knew that if he recommended masks right away, then people would have begin hoarding them ASAP, and healthcare and other front-line workers would have been facing an even greater shortage.

You all remember the massive run on toilet paper and sanitation supplies last year when lockdowns began? The run on masks would have been just as bad if Fauci recommended them sooner rather than later.


I understand why the scientists lied (about masks), but it causes people to not trust them. You lie one to many times and people will stop believing anything you have to say. Fauci and other scientists should have re-read The Boy Who Cried Wolf before lying multiple times.

Also, just to be clear it wasn't strictly Fauci. The CDC and the Surgeon General made similar remarks about masks as well. If it was just Fauci I think that would have been less damaging, but to have multiple government agencies / officals all lying just looks bad.


I'd suggest reading some scientific papers before going too far in that direction. I've read a lot of them. These scientists routinely do things like cite papers that contradict the claim the citation is meant to support. They write papers based on circular logic. They conflate simulations with reality, they make claims that have no basis in biological science. They do not know what the false positive rate on COVID testing is, but are happy to draw conclusions that flatly contradict decades of biological understanding on the basis of data analysis that critically depends on knowing the correct value. They write models in C that are filled with memory corruption bugs and race conditions. When the results randomly change from run to run they claim that it's an experiment and so averaging the results makes it all perfectly fine. And when professional programmers tell them that incorporating memory corruption into their calculations is not fine, they assert those programmers don't understand science (see: https://github.com/mrc-ide/covid-sim/issues/165)

And that's just the scientists. Public health officials like Fauci have lied to the public and then admitted doing so, more than once! That isn't the data evolving, that's them deciding to change their story and explain that the previous one was a lie. What are we to make of such people?

You believe "experts know nothing" is insanity. I've read what those people are writing and am absolutely sure they know nothing, because if they did, they wouldn't keep engaging in these illegitimate, unscientific and desperately concerning practices.


> The general sentiment I hear from people is in the past we were told that once we get vaccinated we could return to normal.

Possibly they misunderstood what 'we' meant. Once the population is vaccinated, things can largely go back to normal, but a vaccinated _individual_ should not.


Ah yes, vaccine reluctance must only come from ignorance. Certainly not education or research into the side effects of vaccines and how these in particular affect people of younger ages with more risks than getting covid.

Genuinely curious about side effects of the covid vaccines, do you have sources for this?

check out the vaers database. 3000 deaths already. you can sort by age group. middle-aged people who would otherwise have been fine with COVID (40's nurses) getting convulsions is certainly a lot worse compared to what people could get with COVID.

> Is this an education problem?

Literally every problem we have in the US, stems from our piss-poor education. Every last one of them.


I think a big part of it is how genuinely fucked up the US healthcare system is. This sows a lot of distrust towards all related industries, including the pharmaceutical industry. Not at all saying this is a true or justified belief, but from what I can gather many of the skeptics think this is a scam designed to profit Big Pharma. Others are equally disposed to distrust government in general. And on top of that you had a president who politicized the pandemic from the very beginning, meaning for many people there is simply no way for them to view the situation rationally or objectively.

So people who get the vaccine are better educated? I really doubt.

People in the US rightly don't trust the pharmaceutical industry or the government. They may not be able to pinpoint why, but when they look around they see that every year the people around them are more obese and have more chronic health conditions. They may not be able to tie those things together consciously, but it leaves the powerful subconscious feeling that the government and pharmaceutical industries do not want them to be healthy.

I do think it's a bit ironic to choose not to get a vaccine because you don't trust Big Pharma.

Because the alternative to the vaccine is putting yourself at risk for a deadly virus which can cost a lot of money to treat, which would give more money to Big Pharma. Generally, vaccines aren't in the best interests of pharmaceutical companies.


It's not about not wanting to give money to them, it's about not wanting their products injected in to your body. The vast majority of people that get infected with the coronavirus do not get any pharmaceuticals put in to them whatsoever.

>Generally, vaccines aren't in the best interests of pharmaceutical companies.

Maybe they are, maybe they aren't. As far as I know, no one has done any long term (10+ year) studies to determine whether people that get vaccines end up using more pharmaceuticals than people that don't get vaccines.


Not sure why you're being downvoted; this is exactly the mentality of many people. I don't even think it's subconscious necessarily: many people think this is a conspiracy to ensure profits for Big Pharma.

EDIT: to be clear, I do not endorse such a view. I am merely stating that I have observed others espousing it.


Have you read any articles on this subject? There are many factors affecting someone's medical decisions. It's not as simple as some K-12 education plan.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vaccine_hesitancy


>Is there not a consistent minimum science curriculum for K-12 which covers pathogens, treatments and the history of vaccination programmes?

There is not a consistent curriculum and there's a significant portion of the US population who believe anything that runs against "the experts" because they're mistrustful of education and the concept of expertise. It's the same reason we don't have a federal ID card because to them it's the Biblical "mark of the beast".


> Is this an education problem?

A number of reporters have gone out and talked to vaccine skeptics, e.g. [1]. They don't appear to be suffering from a deficit of knowledge or "false consciousness" or whatever. Their beliefs are reasonable and their preferences are internally consistent.

[1] https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2021/05/the-people...


>Is this an education problem? Is there not a consistent minimum science curriculum for K-12 which covers pathogens, treatments and the history of vaccination programmes? Are there other factors that are relevant?

It's not an education problem and while most comments I predict will consider that the main factor, I disagree and consider it a condescending take. We all learn about Louis Pasteur and successful eradications in the past. It's a cultural/philosophical problem. Right-leaning americans in general value a certain degree of autonomy over a guarantee of safety and if you coerce them "for their own good" they'll double down on whatever the opposite of what you're suggesting is. In the case of this pandemic, all of the mixed messaging regarding mask-wearing and other prevention measures poisoned the well in the first quarter of 2020, before the messaging became consistent by the summer. This turned a health debate into a struggle for rights: "We're all in this together" vs "99% let me take my chances". It's the same debate as 2A. For 2A absolutists, no statistic has come out that justifies giving up what's perceived as an inalienable right.


> This turned a health debate into a struggle for rights: "We're all in this together" vs "99% let me take my chances".

If that really is the case, then it IS an education problem, except they failed their civics class. Civics is a balance of civil rights and civic responsibilities, specifically, the responsibility that you have to your fellow countrymen. Not killing your fellow countrymen falls high on that list of responsibilities.


What fraction of your properly educated, civically minded individuals drive over the speed limit on public roads?

> It's not an education problem [..] it's a cultural/philosophical problem.

Culture and philosophy are shaped via education.


The mixed messaging was because previous studies on influenza showed that the increased occurrence of touching one's face to adjust a mask outweighed the benefit of cloth masks. As covid-specific studies were done, it was found that masks were effective, and so the message changed.

I agree that the well was poisoned in the first quarter of 2020, but strongly disagree as to the cause of that. Donald Trump publicly, repeatedly, and strongly downplayed the severity of the pandemic. He dismissed masks as something that he himself wouldn't wear. He continually said that the pandemic was a hoax that would magically disappear. He made public safety measures into a political issue, and the Republican party allowed it to happen.


> it was found that masks were effective

Citation for this would be helpful.


Just look at the standoff between the teacher unions and the CDC. The unions take the side of their members who would rather stay away from the little asymptomatic sweethearts while the CDC takes the government's side and would like to have school going again so both parents can be back at work.

If the government's messaging is that the economy takes precedence over individual safety, that's the priors that people work with when they evaluate vaccine safety.


US education: Those asymptomatic sweethearts are largely languishing, at least the ones in part-time distance learning environments. This has not been the case for those kids that could afford to attend private schools as many have been attending classes at school for most/all of the entire school year. So you've got private school kids on track and public school kids with stunted academic development because why, exactly?

Because the teachers, who often feel that they are not paid enough for the regular job, don’t feel safe? I don’t get why this is so controversial - they don’t want to risk their health to teach your kids.

It's controversial because teaching in person can be done safely as evidenced by thousands of private schools during the past school year. If teacher's unions were doing what's in the best interest for the kids, they would have largely returned to school at this point. However, it has become clear that what is best for the kids is second to what is comfortable for the teachers. If this obstruction to in-class instruction continues, the short-sightedness of this position will become readily apparent in the Fall as many families who have the means will go private (if they haven't already) thus depriving the schools of both tax dollars and the critically-important engaged families that support many of the extra/co-curricular amenities of public schools. Voucher Programs/charter schools/religious schools will all benefit to the detriment of public schools.

Well, it's the teacher's union. Any benefit it from it that accrues to children is purely accidental.

Maybe kids should unionize. There's a nightmare scenario.


I am not in a teacher's union, but if I were, I would want it to be focused on what's best for me - not the students. Parents and other groups are good advocates for the students.

Also, the resources available to private schools are very different than those available to public schools. The example provided shows that it is possible for some schools to return to in-person. It does not follow that it would be possible for all (or most) schools, especially as you have fewer resources available.


Schools are the main source of spread between households. Consider the experience from Israel, the disease appeared to be under control and on the way out, until they opened school. Understandable that any teacher wouldn't wish to bring it home.

And yet, the US only has ~320 million more people with thousands of private schools across the country that stayed open for in-class instruction this school year but no discernable pattern of causing outbreaks. Understandable how the anti-vaxxers and the teacher's unions are both opposed to empirical evidence.

I honestly think it's weird that more people aren't "sceptics", however stupid that word is in itself.

I would gladly take the Pfizer/Moderna vaccine right this minute, but i also know of the terrible track records the pharmaindustry - there is so many shady examples to choose from it's incredible that anyone doubts how vulture-like that industry is, - also there was corruption the last time a pandemic hit:

https://healthcare-in-europe.com/en/news/european-parliament...

Besides that we are on completely uncharted territory scale wise and trial wise no matter what your perspective is.


I work in biotech (vaccines), so we have some overlap with pharma, and none of what you said resonates with me. Sorry, but you're applying a pretty broad brush to millions of hardworking people in this industry that is completely unwarranted. As an aside, nobody I know is going to refuse life saving medication because 'pharma industry is bad'.

The pharma industry is no different than any other industry. The vast majority of people are honest hardworking folks just doing their job, and you have a handful of assholes. As such, you have to look at things on a case by case basis. You can't reject the tech industry because Facebook did something bad. There are millions of criminals in the world, we don't reject humanity based on it. This is simply not a sustainable method of arriving at any sort of conclusion.


I don't disagree. Most people actually working with the actual science are good people - just as in tech. The problem comes from ruthless profit incentives, lobbying, marketing, investor pressure etc.

Nowhere did i say that the everyone in the industry are bad people, my whole point was about history of shadiness. That's not controversial - again just as in the sector big-data / internet business that i work in.

Anyone should be highly sceptical of any huge corporations.

I find it very weird that there have literally been non stop scandals, and huge ones too, and still people get angry when people are sceptical of anything "big corp".

Always be sceptical of anything with billions of dollars invested, armies of lawyers, PR departments that would shadow small governments etc.


>Anyone should be highly sceptical of any huge corporations.

That is completely different than saying calling it a vulture-like industry, or implying something about the entire industry. There are many companies - small and large in this industry. Again, you're simply diluting your own argument by making it absurd and easy to refute. I won't argue with you over specific examples of when companies (in any industry) engage in terrible behavior.

'big corp' exists in every industry. When there is a lot (money/power) at stake, there are perverse incentives to protect their 'golden goose' so to speak. Its our primitive reptilian brain taking control. There are such examples in every industry. But again, that doesn't make the entire industry bad - which was my point.


I would also describe much of the tech industry i have been part of as "vulture-like" and a pretty dirty game, that's just how it is.

Maybe i just have more cynical view of the state of capitalism in our current age, but i don't this view is controversial, or taboo to say out loud.

I also know a couple of fantastic film makers, though i think Hollywood, and the movie industry is pretty rotten, and my friends are just like "yeah it's a rotten industry" then they laugh when talking about industry stuff.

Why do you have to see it as a personal part of your identity and take it personally?

We live in a world of dirty games, the monetary hierarchy is not fair, nepotism and family rule is widespread, lobbyism is out of control, etc. none of this i controversial.


Its just a normal human emotion towards members of your own tribe. I transitioned out from tech into biotech, and I would probably feel the same if people leveled accusations against all tech people. I am not interested in an intellectual monk like existence. Our subjectivity is what makes us human. But to answer your question, I have no way of knowing where you're coming from other than the information you volunteer. Its no different than me calling my own brother ugly, versus a random person on the street calling my brother ugly. Those statements 'hit' differently. Similarly, you having a frank conversation with your buddies is not comparable to other conversations with strangers on the internet.

I understand your perspective, i should have been clearer in who i was talking about.

I love science myself and love talking about it, i am not against scientists, quite the opposite.

That said i start out by linking to a highly relevant doc, that i think should make it clear what kind of business i am talking about. But i agree that there is a problem in generalising.


Yes from what I have seen its an education problem. The people I know who are reluctant have no clear idea how vaccines work or a good grasp of statistics. They generally seem to be ok with taking the risk of getting the virus but perceive a higher risk with taking a new vaccine even though the evidence is to the contrary.

Most of these people are on the anti-vax, all natural, anti-gmo, wifi and microwaves cause cancer spectrum and it all comes from a lack of understanding the science and technology of modern life.


Most of these people are on the anti-vax, all natural, anti-gmo, wifi and microwaves cause cancer spectrum

Lumping all of the opposition into a single category and assuming they are all the same is both dehumanizing and counterproductive.


I'd say that the resentment comes from having been screwed over in the past, like with Thalidomide.

I'm not saying that the vaccines are unsafe, but the whole Corona Industry is suspect. Loads of ffp masks without actual certifications, ffp masks that are contaminated and have to be recalled, etc.


How many people are citing thalidomide vs. just reposting conspiracy theories like "china virus," though? These people's opinions don't come from caution after a careful analysis of literature or past events. It comes from reading clickbait online that plays into their psychology.

This story is also an example of the conflicting stories we get out of leaders? How it is possible we'll _never_ reach herd immunity? They were saying we needed that just last summer!

That loss of trust in giving us correct/congruent information from leaders is absolutely hurting America right now


Manipulating the population behavior by manipulating goalposts seems to have been intentional the whole time. From the NYT in December titled How Much Herd Immunity Is Enough?

> In a telephone interview the next day, Dr. Fauci acknowledged that he had slowly but deliberately been moving the goal posts. He is doing so, he said, partly based on new science, and partly on his gut feeling that the country is finally ready to hear what he really thinks.

> "When polls said only about half of all Americans would take a vaccine, I was saying herd immunity would take 70 to 75 percent," Fauci said. "Then, when newer surveys said 60 percent or more would take it, I thought, 'I can nudge this up a bit,' so I went to 80, 85."

The rest of the interview doesn't make it sound any better.

https://web.archive.org/web/20210212003533/https://www.nytim...


Yeah similar to how the US government (Fauci, surgeon general) initially pretended masks wouldn't work to prevent a run on the supply.

Maybe government officials should just give the facts straight and not try to manipulate the public. Even if the lies work in the short run they have longer lasting effects on government trust (as I'd argue we're seeing now, a year later)


that's incredible. how can a guy with such a high-level, public-facing position be so bad at interviews? I can understand why a public health official might be inclined to exaggerate, simplify, and/or mislead to get the general public to follow the program. I don't approve, but I understand why people might think that's justified. what I don't understand is how you can do all that and not have the common sense to refrain from admitting to it in plain english. isn't that public office 101?

It's not conflicting. New evidence changes science-based understanding and decisions. This is at the core of how science works. It's impossible to know everything about everything immediately so you make the best decisions you can based on the information you do have.

Herd immunity is still the holy grail of dealing with an infectious disease like this. If new evidence says we're not going to reach it, for whatever reason, then you have to shift tactics to something else that may not be as ideal but is more likely achievable.

While I understand that messages/information changing can cause some genuine confusion, the concept that once information is delivered it must never change and if it does then you can't trust any of it is just a wedge used to sow mistrust. While it may be comforting to have that sort of authority/consistency, anybody who tells you they know everything about everything immediately is lying to you.


I have never been a 'information is etched in stone' type. It is very much dynamic But the people making these calls are unaccountable.

We don't have herd immunity for _many_ pathogens, yet this is the one we irrevocably change society (in ways I would argue are more harmful to humans than this particular virus)? Nobody has a black and white information, yet our leaders are treating that way and refuse to outline off-ramps to these restrictions.


Information about the virus and the virus itself has changed since last summer.

One adjusts approaches based on changing data. Being flexible is a positive trait.


Indeed. Leadership has been the _opposite_ of flexible. They stubbornly hold on to talking points and policies.

I don't think the story is an example of conflicting messages though. Different messages at different times based on new data, but not at a single point in time.

> How it is possible we'll _never_ reach herd immunity?

If people refuse to take the vaccine, then obviously the US will never reach it. It's not inconsistent to say that the US _must_ reach it, yet will not.


>How it is possible we'll _never_ reach herd immunity

The Michael Osterholm podcast goes into this last week.

"So when B117 came along and we see anywhere from 50 to 100 percent more transmission than previous strains, that automatically had to move herd immunity levels up to accomplish the slowing down of transmission. And we don't know what that is. I can truly tell you, as an epidemiologist in the trenches for 46 years, B117 is much more infectious than the strains we dealt with 6 months ago. But I can't tell you with any certainty what that means. So let's just at the outset say, you know, we'd all like to try to achieve concepts of herd immunity, but I don't know what they are. And I can only hope that we can slow down transmission. But I don't have a sense that by itself will ever stop it." [0]

[0] http://www.cidrap.umn.edu/ep-52-transcript


> How it is possible we'll _never_ reach herd immunity?

It does not circulate sufficiently but neither is a critical mass of vaccinated people reached due to vaccine reluctance.


My impression is they are moving the goal posts and saying _no_ level of vaccination is 'good enough for herd immunity'

"They" don't set the goalposts - reality does. Also, they are not saying that no level of vaccination is good enough - they are saying that the level of vaccination needed is dependent on a variety of factors, and that level is becoming increasingly difficult to reach due to variants and vaccine hesitancy. From the article:

> Early on, the target herd immunity threshold was estimated to be about 60 to 70 percent of the population. Most experts, including Dr. Fauci, expected that the United States would be able to reach it once vaccines were available.

> But as vaccines were developed and distribution ramped up through the winter and into the spring, estimates of the threshold began to rise. That is because the initial calculations were based on the contagiousness of the original version of the virus. The predominant variant now circulating in the United States, called B.1.1.7 and first identified in Britain, is about 60 percent more transmissible.

> As a result, experts now calculate the herd immunity threshold to be at least 80 percent. If even more contagious variants develop, or if scientists find that immunized people can still transmit the virus, the calculation will have to be revised upward again.


when did transmissibility become a defining metric? There are more transmissible pathogens (colds, flu), but we don't change society for those. I was told that mortality was the defining metric (and thus the reason for the restrictions, to save lives), so if B.1.1.7 is less lethal, why would the transmissibility play in?

Also why isn't immunization from natural infection counting? I've seen to reason to _discount_ it; it just seems they are looking for ways to juke the stats


> if B.1.1.7 is less lethal, why would the transmissibility play in?

Transmissibility, viral load and virulence should all be correlated.

Alizon, S., Hurford, A., Mideo, N. and Van Baalen, M. (2009). Virulence evolution and the trade-off hypothesis: history, current state of affairs and the future. Journal of Evolutionary Biology 22, 245–259.

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/j.1420-9101...

When you read stories that a particular variant increases one or two of those three and not the other, you should treat it skeptically. All three should tend to move together.

B.1.1.7 is most likely more lethal, any studies contradicting that are probably not picking appropriate controls to compare against (e.g. the most vulnerable sub-populations of demographic slices having been already hit by old school D614G, so lethality appearing to fall no matter what).


> so if B.1.1.7 is less lethal, why would the transmissibility play in?

I mean, if it was a _lot_ less lethal, and became permanently dominant, then the problem goes away. I think your mistake is in assuming that it is less lethal. What gave you that idea? It is believed to probably be _more_ lethal.

> Also why isn't immunization from natural infection counting?

It 'counts', but less so than vaccine immunity, because some variants defeat it while not defeating most vaccines (there's some messiness at the edges here; for instance AZ may not work very well for the South African variant).


Eh? Where'd you get that? There is a level of vaccination that's probably good enough, but it's likely in the 80-90% range, and the US may not get there (though other countries will).

The goal posts have moved a bit (largely because the shiny new Kent variant is more infectious, and because it's now fairly clear that some variants can break through natural immunity) but that's the virus's doing, not the experts.


No, they're saying there are differences if you get lots of people vaccinated quickly, or fewer people vaccinated slowly.

Slower and fewer vaccinations increases the chances of new strains developing, and increases the chances of strains that are less affected by vaccination.


Downvoted. I'd like to snuff out this notion that changing your story after receiving new information is a negative thing.

Research, especially on something like a new virus, takes time. We know more about the virus now than we did a year ago, so of course predictions and recommendations are going to change. That is not weakness, that is science.


Agree that updating your story/viewpoint with new information is a good trait to have. However, the updating appears to be one-sided (more restrictive/slower re-opening etc.). Why do vaccinated people still need to wear masks and why are outdoor activities being curtained when the evidence is clear they are low risk. Again, the updating of information _appears_ to be one-sided

> Why do vaccinated people still need to wear masks and why are outdoor activities being curtained when the evidence is clear they are low risk.

Because they're still collecting data on whether or not vaccinated people can still be transmitters of the virus. And when visiting a business, the business doesn't know who is and isn't vaccinated, so it's easier to just still require masks on everybody.

Also, imagine if we decide to reopen, unmask, and gather again, only for COVID cases to have a massive spike, and have to shut down again. They're playing it safe until we either have more data, or enough people have been vaccinated that it doesn't matter.


Just wanted to reply that I am firmly against policies like requiring masks because its easier to identify compliance, it reeks of star of david on jacket mentality.

Its EASY to have draconian and blanket restrictions. Its HARD to sit down and come up with more reasonable policy that balance risk and preserving some semblance of liberty.


Just wanted to reply that wearing a mask is the reasonable policy that balances risk and preserves liberty.

There were only two segments of people who couldn’t handle the draconian blanket restrictions for a short time, the poor and the stupid. I forgive the poor, our government failed them.

Great work on the association fallacy and invoking godwin. Pieces of flare? Maybe Mike Judge can cast you in a sequel to one of his other films.


History has shown you to be right, too! Every time we have re-opened too soon, it was followed by a spike of cases, then a spike of deaths. When will we learn?

I strongly suspect that the U.S. will largely return to some version of 'normal' by the end of the summer at the latest. No required masks, minimal social distancing, and a return to pre-pandemic levels of domestic travel. Under this scenario, it seems that either enough people in a region will be vaccinated to reach local herd immunity or the virus (unstopped by masks/lockdowns/distancing) will quickly infect the remaining unvaccinated population. Either way, wouldn't herd-immunity eventually be attained?

In other words, the vaccine is so effective at preventing serious illness in those that have it, I don't see public policy being put in place to save those unwilling to be vaccined once everyone has had a chance. It seems that will eventually achieve some level of herd-immunity through a combination of infection and vaccination.


Not sure why you're being downvoted, because I think this is accurate.

We will reach a point, probably in a couple months, where everyone in the US who wants the vaccine will have gotten one. By that time, restrictions will be lifted, mask mandates will be gone, lockdowns ended, etc.

The virus will continue to spread among the unvaccinated. And I will have zero sympathy for the people who choose not to get the vaccine and end up hospitalized because of the virus. (Note my emphasis on CHOOSE: I still have sympathy for those that can't get the vaccine and end up infected)


I agree, but I wonder if 'normal' will include some increased border security and international travel restrictions? There are countries that are lagging far behind the US in vaccinations.

my wife has a phd in drug development and is concerned about the speed in which this was released and the lack of long term safety trials. is she antivax/antiscience?

Of course not. But we have to work with the data we have. Which currently says that the vaccine is safer than the disease. Considering hundreds of millions in many different countries have the vaccines it is fairly reasonable to believe that it is safe, considering that we're not seeing deaths associated with it. You always have to do cost/risk balancing. But if a hundred countries are all taking the same action and there's millions of people having already been "experimented" on (some for about a year, i.e. doctors who got the vaccines first) it reasons that there isn't much risk. Countries don't agree that much on anything, not even a pandemic response.

All the experts are concerned too. I work in vaccines (not claiming to be an expert) and I'm concerned too. Long-term safety trials take time, and so the question is how long are you willing to wait for the data? Its a shitty situation all around with the loss of human life, the impact to the economy and the politicization of every damn thing.

>lack of long term safety trials. is she antivax/antiscience?

I don't think so, but in our cultural climate those who bring up real, substantive questions about the process can be brought up. It is a shame since the MRNA vaccines are new for such widespread usage.

For me it came down to risk/reward. A year of being a hermit and the impact on my family tipped the scales.

When I had both doses and the time after I had no reaction. Others in my family had some sort of reaction even if it was just a sore arm. Does that mean it didn't work? No idea and there isn't a long term study to look at to learn from.


Doesn't mean her concerns are warranted when the vaccine has been given to hundreds of millions and we have data on it.

A phd is just a certification. Take from that what you will.


There were many technological advancement that allowed the release of the vaccine faster than ever. Often the long pole and vaccine development is the testing period. The thing is, when a non-trivial percentage of the population is actively infected, you can test really quickly. At this point the vaccines have made their way the tens or hundreds of millions of people, where the usual phase 3 clinical trial lasts a long time, yes, but only involves 3 to 30,000 people.

It’s a question of risk management. We have to weigh the cost of action against the cost of inaction.

I have no basis on which to form an opinion on your wife :-) but everyone’s been reacting differently to this situation. I’m encouraging people to follow the vast quantities of data.


We don't know what the long term effects of either the virus or the vaccine are on a human. Hell we can't possibly even have data on what the long term effects are on humans. It doesn't matter how many people have been exposed.

Luckily we know how vaccines work. There’s nothing particularly new about this one. Vaccines arent magic; you trigger an immune response by getting a part of the virus into your body. It’s a pretty understood process.

So let me ask you instead, how many years would make you feel comfortable? Five? 10? 50? I prefer to rely on the wealth of existing information, and knowing the cost of inaction is much greater than action.


> How many years would make you feel comfortable? Five? 10? 50?

How long do you plan on living?

To give a vaccine to say, an 8 year old child, with no health concerns and excellent natural immunity to a disease (better than say, for seasonal flu), then it stands to reason that you would need so much data to show that the absolute risk reduction was greater than 0 (and not below 0), that the question is barely even worth considering; why not just wait until the child reaches a suitable age, at which point we'd already have the data?


I wasn't actually talking about children, however, while they themselves are not at elevated risk from COVID, children are little filth monsters who spread disease to everyone around them. The risk is they pass it on, and we are talking about aggregate population risk.

Nothing is risk-free, and demanding 80 years of data to know a vaccine has absolutely no long-term results when vaccine risk profiles are pretty well understood is not a reasonable ask.


there are between 0 and 1 years of data right now. most vaccines take many years for approval, 80 is a bit of a stretch

I was responding to the statement "how long do you plan on living?" made with respect to children.

However, there's far more than 1 year of data on mRNA and adenovirus vector vaccines.

The thing is lay people really have no basis for saying "there's not enough data" and "it's too fast" -- the scientists who study this are the ones with the background to make that assessment. All we really have are gut feelings and anecdota.


How would you test the potential long term effects of these new vaccines in an accelerated fashion?

There's a fine line between bravery and stupidity.

Stupidity was going about your normal life, and getting mad about the new reality we were faced with when this whole thing started. The balance of risking your life for the sake of having fun was heavily skewed toward stupid.

Bravery is beginning to build a new semblance of normalcy in a post vaccine world, and attempting to move on. We have the science, we know it works, we just have to trust it now and be brave. The balance of risking a mild flu-like infection at worst for the sake having fun has flipped toward being brave for people who are vaccinated.

This virus is here to stay with us for the rest of the history of humanity. But we know how to beat it now and a fully vaccinated person is clinically proven to be at minimal risk.


Honest question - I'm after good articles to read about this:

Why is it that we have been able to eliminate things like Polio and Smallpox, yet there's doubt about COVID? They were both viruses, must have mutated, were fairly easily spread and it must have taken longer to vaccinate enough people given the advances in logistics and vaccine tech we now have. What's the fundamental difference?


>"Why is it that we have been able to eliminate things like Polio and Smallpox, yet there's doubt about COVID?"

COVID is incredibly more contagious, but also far less deadly than those. The real sinister thing about this virus is that 20 people can pass it to each other without anyone knowing, then all of the sudden someone's grandma is dying from a hug. It's just so much more contagious than anything any living person has seen before. No one in general had ever experienced literally just being in a room with someone completely asymptomatic leading to transmission of a deadly virus.


>No one in general had ever experienced literally just being in a room with someone completely asymptomatic leading to transmission of a deadly virus.

Anyone have updated data on asymptomatic transmission? I was thinking that wasn't really a thing:

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-020-19802-w


You must have missed it - its in the article itself.

>But as vaccines were developed and distribution ramped up through the winter and into the spring, estimates of the threshold began to rise. That is because the initial calculations were based on the contagiousness of the original version of the virus. The predominant variant now circulating in the United States, called B.1.1.7 and first identified in Britain, is about 60 percent more transmissible.

>As a result, experts now calculate the herd immunity threshold to be at least 80 percent. If even more contagious variants develop, or if scientists find that immunized people can still transmit the virus, the calculation will have to be revised upward again.

>Though resistance to the vaccines is a main reason the United States is unlikely to reach herd immunity, it is not the only one

>“Disease transmission is local,” Dr. Lipsitch noted.

>“If the coverage is 95 percent in the United States as a whole, but 70 percent in some small town, the virus doesn’t care,” he explained. “It will make its way around the small town.”

>At the same time, the connectivity between countries, particularly as travel restrictions ease, emphasizes the urgency of protecting not just Americans but everyone in the world, said Natalie E. Dean, a biostatistician at the University of Florida in Gainesville. Any variants that arise in the world will eventually reach the United States, she noted.


My take would be that those diseases affect children while COVID does not. I think we would have seen pretty much everyone on board with COVID vaccines if COVID was severely crippling children.

Those diseases effected children because children didn't have immunity. However childhood diseases often killed adults that somehow didn't catch those diseases as children.

> Why is it that we have been able to eliminate things like Polio and Smallpox, yet there's doubt about COVID?

The vaccines for polio and smallpox are extremely effective (some polio vaccines are up to 100%) and pretty much everyone received them, for decades. Covid vaccines are likely somewhat less effective, and there's considerable hesitancy in some countries. The US will be lucky to get to 70%, at the moment, and France may be even worse, for instance.


This was written pre-COVID to put the anti-vax movement in historical perspective.

https://www.oah.org/tah/issues/2015/august/vaccination-resis...


Polio and Smallpox are terrible diseases, causing terrible deformities or scarring, while COVID is essentially a slightly more dangerous flu.

"Slightly" is incredibly wrong. Estimates are that it's around 10x as deadly, and that's only counting death, and not the permanent lung damage some survivors are experiencing.

Either way, my point stands, one set of diseases leaves obvious physical marks, the other just kills your or leaves invisible harm.

Which do you think will prompt people to be more happy to get a vaccine? Some invisible injury, if that, or knowing people with permanent deformities from a long time scourge?


I usually wait to install a software update patch in a production environment until first movers have reported no bugs, so why can't that apply to vaccines as well ?

We are well past first movers.

I'd love if someone broke down _reasons_ for vaccine hesitancy. It seems like the strategies we should develop for addressing them would be different, and that there shouldn't be a one-size-fits-all strategy, as we're trying to do today.

So far, I personally have encountered the following viewpoints in my family and peer group (none of which I share) - in decreasing order of how much credence I'll give them:

1. I'm pregnant and don't know what it does to my baby.

2. I do not think the vaccine is safe, because we developed it too fast. Corollary: blood clots in two of them are my proof.

3. I agree the vaccine is safe and effective, but it was made with "aborted babies" [actually: stem cell lines, as are many vaccines that I'm sure they _have_ taken], and I will not take it on religious grounds.

4. I will not take the vaccine on principle, as it constitutes government overreach into our lives. It is irrelevant whether it is safe or effective.

That's not to speak of some of the other egregious ones I've heard that people believe, like the vaccine having an ICE tracker embedded in it to enable roundups (https://www.boston25news.com/news/health/local-leaders-vacci...).

Given that all of the communication I've seen has centered around safety and effectiveness, it seems like two out of these four cases are not being addressed.


For point 3, that's true of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine, but not the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines.

Also, what about this reason? "I don't think the vaccine is effective, since we still have to wear masks and socially distance after getting it, so I'm not going to take the risk that it might be unsafe."


It's been a while since I looked into it but IIRC both Pfizer and Moderna used HEK 293 during testing phases. There isn't a vaccine available that is completely free of participation, however remote, in the use of the HEK 293 stem cell line or similar.

Pfizer and Moderna only used cells from aborted babies to test their vaccines. Johnson and Johnson uses them to produce doses of their vaccine.

How about:

5. I've already had COVID, and nothing thus far has indicated antibodies being that much less effective than a vaccine. If antibodies are claimed to wear off effectiveness, why wouldn't the vaccine just as much? Isn't the vaccine just an intentionally stimulated antibody response?


You are correct that there has not been time to do a thorough study of the differences between natural infection and the response to a vaccine. It is not crazy to want to wait a bit if you were recently infected.

However, there are good reasons to think that vaccines (particularly the mRNA-based ones) have a longer lasting protection than that a natural infection. They include only a very small part of the spike protein; with the booster, the force the body to create lots of targeted "memory" cells that are designed to last a long time. A natural infection may (i) target part of the virus that changes faster than the spike protein and (ii) without the booster effect, not produce as many memory B-cells.


Immunity goes away after a while, just like the flu. I had Covid in March of last year and donated antibody-rich plasma but was limited in time to how long I could donate for this very reason. And variants pop up that you don't have immunity to even if you still had antibodies. I'll be 2 weeks post my second dose of Pfizer for this very reason. The most common variant in the US is now B117 (the UK variant), which I did not have, but which the vaccine is effective against.

You do NOT want to get Covid-19. Get the vaccine. I still have to use an electronic natural gas detector in our kitchen to check for gas leaks since my sense of smell is still broken. My friend's aunt just died. Her asymptomatic daughter brought Covid-19 to Passover dinner and killed her.


It is important to consider vaccine hesitancy in marginalized communities. A reaction to this by an outsider, may include questions like, "But these are some of the people who are most affected by not vaccination." Which can be true, doesn't address their concerns. As always, this is a generalized statement. Marginalized communities are not monoliths. Statements about groups don't always speak for everyone in that group.

> Some communities of color, including Black communities, display higher levels of COVID vaccine hesitancy than the general population, due in part to an egregious history of medical maltreatment—from the Tuskegee experiments to forced sterilization, to the nonconsensual and uncompensated use of stem cells.[1]

[1] - https://www.templehealth.org/services/population-health/temp...


I'm all for vaccines. I recommend everyone get the Covid vaccine. My wife has the Pfizer vaccine. All my children have their vaccines.

My vaccine hesitancy comes for myself only. My autoimmune diseases. I developed Hypothyrodism literally 3 months after Tetanus shot only to find out that overseas you only need one every 30 years but we push them every 10 years in the USA. I was in perfect health got a physical all labs were fine. I got my Tetanus shot at that physical. 3 months later I went in because I was feeling very weak. Got diagnosed. I even have the lab work to back up my claims. 8 years later I had thyroid cancer and my hypothyroidism was diagnosed as Hashimotos. Maybe it was coincidence.

Second thing. Got a flu shot 5 years later (after Tetanus) and developed Psoriasis about 4 months after.

I think that a very small percentage of population can develop autoimmune responses permanently from vaccines. It's just not studied enough and happens in such a small percentage it's hard to track and correlate. Also certain auto immune diseases lay dormant for some time. So someone could develop hypothyrodism after a vaccine but never know it for years.

All that being said, I just can't take that kind of risk for something that isn't that deadly to me. I'll just continue on my Peloton and playing basketball 3 times a week. Try to keep weight low and eat healthy.

My sibling works for Pfizer. I can't say what they do and they won't take the vaccine. I think their hesitancy comes from doctors overprescribing antibiotics for UTI infections in their teens. Now they have severe IBS and ulcers. I think the vaccine hesitancy is a general distrust in doctors. Science knows a lot more about gut health now.

We're both very educated and left leaning.

If Covid was super deadly or something I would be the first in line. I promise you. I'll have to roll the dice for now. If Johnson and Johnson comes back on market I might, and that's a big might take that one.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4962945/

https://www.thelancet.com/pb-assets/Lancet/extras/02art9340w...

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10648110/#:~:text=Other%20au...).



I wanted to add that a lot of the people I know who are “vaccine hesitant” are just waiting a little longer to see how things go. I don’t see a whole lot of representation of folks who intend to get the vaccine this summer when I read publications and articles about it, but I would wager that there’s more people intending to get it but not quite yet than we think.

France here, I’m just waiting for the end of the state of emergency + two months. I’ll vaccinate when the press is free to discuss the problems (and does it).

I estimate we can’t know the truth about vaccines as long as the press is mandated by law to say what the president mandates them to say, and there is no reason to trust a president who holds his “conseil des ministres” in a bunker (“conseil de défense sanitaire”, jail time for anyone who discloses the contents - seriously why do they have to hide).

It’s not like they didn’t lie to us during Chernobyl or by saying “masks are medically useless, according to le conseil sanitaire” (words of President Macron in April 2020 - our current president) so they have 0% track record of being good custodians of truth. Research is supposed to be dirty with plenty of disagreeing voices. As long as we see scientists agreeing in the press: It’s not science, it’s staged.

During the period of blood transfusions with AIDS, we actively contaminated hundreds of thousands here in France, fully knowing what we were doing, and masquerading all of it in the press. I’m pro-vax in the end, but concerning rushed vaccines with no freedom of press to disclose scandals: I’ll just wait it off, thanks.


Wow - I did not know that was the case.

Look - I'm pretty pro-vax, I went and paid for a bunch privately a couple of years ago because I was travelling and thought 'why not get them all?' (like going for the nice-fancy-extra car wash program), and always get the flu shot - but that, wow, sounds frankly outrageous.

[EDIT] As a Brit in Europe - I do sometimes get the feeling that a lot of this is political maneuvering managing the fallout from the EU's less than stellar program (people can debate all they like, but the objective facts are: They tried, for the first time, to procure vaccines centrally, and after the same amount of time, demographics in the UK and US have them that don't in the EU), so maybe that's why they're so protective about it.


My exact position, but I'm in the UK. However, you can't have a civilised discussion about any of this, without being labeled anti-vax...

I know this is anecdotal but I’ve been closely following my friends who have been on the fence about getting vaccines in several states and the number one blocking issue they encounter is bad website design in signing up for the vaccine. I’ve had friends all ready to such up even though they’re not 100% on board who get bored after five minutes of not being able to sign up and just leave.

For example, at HEB, I signed up for a vaccine time and upon receiving my first dose, the second appointment was automatically assigned in exactly six weeks. Easy. My buddy who tried to sign up at Fred Meyers had to schedule both of his appointments at one. Although he had a time-slot for his first appointment, he couldn’t get a second appointment time-slot and gave up.

Almost invariably, it’s the West Coast pharmacies that have garbage sites. I really don’t understand why. Again, this is all anecdotal.


I got a call today from my district health care center and they told me I have an appointment for Saturday. Took no more than a couple of seconds and only required me to press one button.

Super convenient and it was so much easier than booking a covid test through our health regions app.

I work with web stuff but often dislike using it, maybe someday we can make it so that it's as easy as receiving or making a call.


How much longer do these people need to wait? Tens (if not hundreds) of millions of people have now received the vaccine.

It's more likely that they'll never get it because later on they'll think "well, I've gone this long without getting it and I've been fine, why get it now?"


You have it exactly right, this is just the current excuse. The excuse will change as time goes on.

I mean...kind of like the excuses we need masks ad infinitum, regardless of vaccine status? Both points are valid IMO

It was timid, but the CDC has in fact released relaxed mask guidance for vaccinated people.

the guidance that implicitly increased mask usage and confusion by claiming that vaccinated people can stop wearing masks outside even though it was already fine to be maskless outdoors?

That they made a mess of it doesn't remove it as evidence that official policies will change to account for increased vaccination.

So in other words, people like that want to wait and see how it goes for all of the expendable people before they try it themselves, because they're the protagonist of reality.

Would you please stop posting flamewar comments? We're trying for something other than that here, and this one is a noticeable step hellward.

https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html

Edit: we've asked you this multiple times before. If you keep doing it we are going to have to ban you.


I mean... Yes? That's how it goes with experimental drugs. Let's say it's March 2020. They've whipped up the first batch of mRNA which will hopefully induce spike protein production. Never before tried in humans. But it didn't kill the rats! How eager would you be to take that shot?

Like don't get me wrong. We should have begun human experiments with some brave volunteers far sooner and with more recklessness, given the stakes. But no one really wants to be the first dozen, or thousand, or in the first long-term study on side effects.


I got the Pfizer vax, which like all available COVID vaccines in the US, is authorized for distribution on an emergency basis - because these vaccines have yet to be verified safe and effective by phase 3 studies.

Waiting until proper FDA approval does not require solipsism.


This is a needlessly inflammatory take on the situation.

I don't have much respect for people who are that selfish. If the only reason someone is "hesitating" is because they believe other people are less important or more expendable than them, I'm not really bothered if their feelings are hurt.

I think this problem is more complex than many talk about and it ends up just being fear based news.

People aren't hesitant to get the vaccine because it might have Bill Gates microchips, they are hesitant because this was the fastest rolled out vaccine in human history (>3x faster than the second) and people don't trust the government. Their concerns aren't founded in science, but they are reasonable. So treating them as unreasonable is going to make them double down on their position. What's worse is that some news organizations ask similar questions but never answer (come on, you're the news and you can't google? WTF, no wonder people don't trust you). If you want to see the exaggerated version of this look at Russia where few trust the government and there is higher hesitancy to take Sputnik V.

Also we can't forget how the definition of herd immunity has changed. Back when the pandemic started I and many others warned that changing the definition of herd immunity to mean only herd immunity built through natural infection would empower anti-vaxers. Places like Nature[0] are supposed to be the place to get scientific news but botched this (even disagreeing with the experts they are quoting in the article), and they aren't the only one. This makes things rather confusing for people. This build distrust, and now we're seeing the repercussions of that. So when someone like Tucker Carlson goes on air and asks a bunch of questions and is always saying that the government wants you to "shut up and listen" (a common phrase) of course people question.

But these people will change, I've seen it. They have a bunch of questions but no answers, and like many, often don't know how to find them. This may be obvious to us who are so used to the internet and google daily to do our jobs, but these people don't even know how to do that or find credible sources. So it then comes down to us, the "smart people", to help. To talk about how doctors have been taking the vaccines for months before we got access. That politicians and wealthy white people wouldn't take it if it was an experiment. There's a lot of data to show that this isn't some grand experiment (well it is, but not in the way those people think experiments are. Maybe leave that nuance out?). But you have to do this without making the person feel like a fool. If you do this I promise they will soon change their minds. As for the 5G/Bill Gates people, well luckily they are a very small minority. Let's just not give them a platform. And don't equate vaccine hesitancy for that. It will just make the path to herd immunity more difficult.

[0] https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-02948-4


I totally agree that many people aren't following the news closely and they'll probably eventually get vaccinated. However, I don't see what you're criticizing in the Nature article. They're pretty clearly distinguishing between herd immunity from infection vs from vaccination:

> In early October, a libertarian think tank and a small group of scientists released a document called the Great Barrington Declaration. In it, they call for a return to normal life for people at lower risk of severe COVID-19, to allow SARS-CoV-2 to spread to a sufficient level to give herd immunity.

> Typically, herd immunity is discussed as a desirable result of wide-scale vaccination programmes.

> Many researchers say pursuing herd immunity is a bad idea. “Attempting to reach herd immunity via targeted infections is simply ludicrous,” Andersen says. “In the US, probably one to two million people would die.”


When reading the article I see the author and the doctor using herd immunity in different ways. I think if you are already informed on the subject that you won't notice the different but if you aren't you'll pick up on it. That distinction is key when it is the job of every scientist to make sure that the public version of their work is approachable (I saw this as a researcher myself. I do believe scientific communication is part of my own job). So I'll break down what I see.

The title is "The false promise of herd immunity for COVID-19", which is in contradiction of what we're seeing today. Today we're aiming for herd immunity and actively promising it. But of course, the subtitle adds nuance. This is because at that time we were only talking about herd immunity in the context of Sweden and Trump's "let it run its course". So this conflates herd immunity with herd immunity through natural infection.

> The writers of the declaration received an audience in the White House, and sparked a counter memorandum from another group of scientists in The Lancet, which called the herd-immunity approach a “dangerous fallacy unsupported by scientific evidence”

While you and I know that they mean "we should quarantine people and not let the infection run its course" this claim is a bit confusing.

The article ironically brings up what I'm saying

> “I’m a bit puzzled that it’s now used to mean how many people need to get infected before this thing stops,” says Marcel Salathé

Here's two adjacent sentences that contradict.

> Will herd immunity work? (subsection totle)

> Many researchers say pursuing herd immunity is a bad idea.

The next sentence is

> “Attempting to reach herd immunity via targeted infections is simply ludicrous,” Andersen says.

The reason to push on the Nature article is because Nature, above all else, should be much clearer. They write these articles as scientific communicators and have the expertise. I think reading as a scientist you'll miss those "herd immunity is dangerous" moments and fill in the gap in your head because of your prior knowledge, but others don't and we saw that become widespread (as noted in my quote). It's subtle, but the distinctions matter. And we should have a high bar for more prestigious sources like Nature. There are other articles from less (scientifically) prestigious sources which were even more convoluted (iirc, WaPo, WSJ, and CNN made similar mistakes).


Like it or not this is now an endemic threat. Living a normal life was absolutely reckless in the beginning because we didn't have the vaccines, and it was a novel virus with totally unknown characteristics. But with it, your risk of developing health complications or being hospitalized from COVID is practically nonexistent. We will end up living with this now the same way we do with everything else.

You hope they adjust architecture. When you teach introductory lectures in a poorly ventilated theatre to 500 students you have a problem.

99.7% survival rate and those in power expect us to bend over and just ask for more violations of our civil liberties.

I'm not sure your number is accurate, but even if it is, that is a general population number and doesn't take into account the higher risk certain populations, such as over 65 or those with comorbidities. Essentially the use of that number with no context encourages people to act as if the risk is spread evenly, but an asymptomatic 18 year old has a much higher risk of killing their grandparents than 0.3%.

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/covid-data/investi...


You're right, shut down the economy and destroy the poor end of town's livelihoods. Gotta save grandma.

Disingenuous statements aside, the people in charge of policy clearly don't care enough to follow the rules themselves. They've put covid patients in nursing homes, ignored their own lockdown rules and intimidated people at religious worship. There's no doubt in my mind that we were deliberately lied to about the severity of this virus


It didn't take the government to shut down the economy, it was going to be severely hit anyway, government intervention was aimed at shortening the impact as much as possible, but people really fucked that up. It was unfortunately obvious in retrospect since a large portion of society no longer lives in reality.

- Elderly COVID patients being sent back to nursing homes is a great example of an early misstep and misinterpretation of rules creating a bad situation. Hopefully we can learn something from it.

- A few people out there hypocritically not following the rules doesn't make the rules wrong.

- Intimidated people at religious worship sounds like spin for people being unsafe and trying to claim their religion gives them the right.

- Yes, the US was deliberately lied to about the severity of the virus by the US President downplaying the risks, and I'm sure others in government or media played it up. Either can be excused depending on the motives.


Mass downvoting going on for some reason. It's not an education issue IMO, it's an ideological issue that--as others have pointed out-- has been weaponized in the form of profits (pharma) or politics (government, business)

Ah, well in that case I guess it's a sure bet that we'll reach it. Betting against the experts hasn't been such a bad idea through this whole dismal ordeal.

Let's hope, anyway, because that second shot is a doozy and I sure don't want to have to repeat that every year. I suspect, though, if this does become endemic, they'll tweak the dosage a bit of the vaccine, and it might be akin to only needing the first shot (which hardly affected me), possibly slightly more often.


I see you're getting downvoted (probably for the snark). But yea, the experts in this COVID ordeal have been less than accurate (or congruent even).

It’s almost as if the experts were learning as the situation developed in a modern pandemic from a novel virus during a hyper globalized era.

But they refuse to go back or admit when they are wrong. They simply have been stubborn. It's killing their trust

You sure about that?

From what I've seen, the experts have gladly admitted they were wrong.

It's the politicians who refuse to go back.


I mean yes I am sure, lol. Kids (IMO) and schools should've been opened and outdoor activities (non-mass events) should be restriction-free _everywhere_ as the risks associated to those populations or activities are vanishingly small. But several states still have onerous (IMO) restrictions.

I am just as sure that experts have been updating their advice, so I guess that leaves us at an impasse? It sounds like you disagree with some of their conclusions, which isn't the same thing as saying they haven't updated their opinions as new evidence comes in. Policy experts also have to weigh the second and third order effects of their statements - especially in a country like America, where the diversity of reactions to official statements ranges the gamut.

Yeah, sure, the kids are incredibly unlikely to die from COVID, but what about the grandma they hug when they get home from school? What about the teachers?

I agree on the outdoor activities thing, though. I go for a daily walk through trails behind my house, and I never bothered with a mask.


> what about the grandma they hug when they get home from school?

Why not say "don't go to Grandma's house" instead of "don't go to school"? The former is way less disruptive.

> What about the teachers?

Most teachers aren't high-risk. Let the ones who are teach over Zoom or get paid leave.


I saw articles last year saying that 25+% of teachers are high risk. I don't think you could run schools with that many fewer teachers and admins.

That ignores the issue that teachers don't want to return until schools can offer PPE and safety regs.


Some children live with their grandparents.

But most children don't. So why not let children who don't live with anyone high-risk go back to a normal life?

The first and second shots have identical formulas and doses.



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