Brown U doctor: "We are never going back to a pre-pandemic reality"

Boy, I don’t know. If this isn’t good enough, what is?

On the other hand, those numbers were compiled over the first seven months of this year. The Delta variant has been prevalent in the U.S. for only one of those months. “This is really a different virus than last year, and everything we learned about COVID a year ago, you got to sort of hit the reset button on now how we need to react to it,” said NIH chief Francis Collins this morning. Breakthrough infections are still rare, but not as rare as they used to be.

A common refrain among public health experts who turned up on Sunday morning TV today: What about the children? That was the inspiration for Dr. Megan Ranney’s comment, which is going viral on social media as I write this, that there’ll be no return to full normalcy from COVID:

Are kids at greater risk from Delta too, at least while they’re unvaccinated? Some experts, including Collins, seem to think we should aim for “zero COVID” with kids even though the risk of serious complications to them so far has been extraordinarily small:

Four hundred children dead from the virus is a terrible tragedy but not wildly different from the number of pediatric deaths from the flu in 2019-20 (188) or the H1N1 epidemic in 2009-10 (358). Are doctors now expecting a surge in kids suffering severe cases or dying from Delta or are kids just a convenient pretext to encourage vaccinated people to keep taking precautions in order to protect unvaccinated adults?

There’s anecdotal evidence that Delta might be hitting kids harder:

But some experts seem prepared to extend precautions for kids forever, and not just to fight COVID. “Zero COVID” is hard enough, yet these people seem to be aiming for “zero infectious disease”:

Collins endorsed masking for kids under 12 during his “Fox News Sunday” interview this morning, arguing that if we can save a few lives by doing it, why not do it? But … how few? And why should tens of millions of kids risk developmental setbacks via indefinite masking to protect adults who have refused to protect themselves by getting vaccinated?

Because that’s what this is really about, you know. The reason we can’t go back to a “pre-pandemic reality” yet and kids are being burdened with a new round of precautions is to protect the willingly unvaccinated. Every complaint about Fauci, every gripe about the CDC’s poor messaging, every whine about masking is to a degree a distraction from that hard reality. Collins admitted it this morning: The new CDC guidance asking the vaccinated to mask up is chiefly aimed at reducing the risk to people who won’t reduce the risk to themselves.

The worse the Delta wave gets, the more intense the debate will become over what duty vaccinated adults and unvaccinated kids owe to unvaccinated adults who won’t pitch in and do their part to slow the spread. If it turns out that kids aren’t at substantially higher risk from the Delta variant themselves, the argument for not returning to “pre-pandemic reality” and letting unvaxxed adults take their chances with that will get less persuasive by the day. Americans are tired of trying to mitigate the pandemic. They’re not going to let the interests of vaccine holdouts task them with it forever.