We all understand how variants work by now (I think?) and so we all grasp the point he’s trying to make.
Still, the sales pitch is completely counterintuitive. Imagine walking into the local Apple store and being told that if you and every other customer don’t purchase the new iPhone today, in a month it’ll be obsolete and won’t work anymore.
You ready to fork over a thousand bucks for a product like that?
He’s trying to nudge holdouts here by reminding them that we’re all in this together. It’d be nice if one’s personal choice not to get vaccinated bore no consequences for anyone else, but unfortunately it does. An unvaxxed person is more likely to infect another unvaxxed person than someone who’s had their shots is. And the more infections there are, the greater the odds that a random mutation in one infected person will produce a variant worse than Delta. And that variant could run roughshod over both the unvaccinated and the vaccinated, puncturing their immunity.
People are weighing their individual risk in deciding whether to get immunized but community risk counts too. “If another one comes along that has an equally high capability of transmitting but also is much more severe, then we could really be in trouble,” Fauci told McClatchy in a discussion about variants. “People who are not getting vaccinated mistakenly think it’s only about them. But it isn’t. It’s about everybody else, also.”
What he’s not saying here for obvious reasons is that vaccinating the entire U.S. population won’t do a ton to limit the chances of a killer variant arising. It’ll help marginally, but the global unvaccinated population is vast and will remain that way for years to come. If and when (probably when) the killer variant emerges, it’ll emerge abroad and then make its way back here through the usual pathways. There’s nothing we can do except crank out as many vaccines as possible for the rest of the planet and keep updating our own vaccines as needed to tailor them to whichever variant arises.
How many shots will the average vaccinated person have received by, say, 2024 to keep pace with an evolving virus? Five? Ten? More?
The unvaccinated are under a ton of pressure right now, both hard and soft, and not all of it is coming from other people. Lots of it is, be it guilt-tripping by the likes of Fauci or Bill de Blasio informing New Yorkers that various public spaces will soon require proof of immunization. According to the New York Post, the combo of vaccine passports and the city offering $100 for those getting their first dose produced a 40 percent surge in vaccinations this week over last. Public consensus that the unvaccinated bear chief responsibility for the new wave may also be weighing on holdouts:
Who's being blamed for the increase in U.S. COVID cases?
According to a new POLITICO/Morning Consult poll, 67% of voters say that unvaccinated Americans bear the blame — that includes 77% of Democrats, 67% of independents and 58% of Republicans.
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) August 5, 2021
But the main incentive at the moment is probably good old-fashioned fear. In Louisiana, one of the country’s hottest hot spots, vaccinations are increasing as Delta horror stories circulate:
Now, largely because of the new wave of illness, lines have returned to vaccination sites across the state. Thirty-seven percent of the population is now fully vaccinated, climbing roughly three percentage points from June but still trailing the national rate, with just shy of half of the country fully vaccinated.
“The public is finally hearing how bad it has gotten,” said Dr. Robert C. Peltier, the chief medical officer for North Oaks Health System in Hammond, an hour east of Baton Rouge…
Some of the thinking doctors and nurses found baffling: The vaccines were seen as dangerous, yet one feed store had to post a sign telling people that ivermectin, a worm medication for pets and livestock, could not be used to treat Covid-19.
I’ll leave you with this segment about an unvaccinated man in Virginia who’s been posting videos of his ordeal with COVID from his ICU bed to convince people to get their shots. I hope he pulls through.
Warning: this is tough to watch
A Virginia man's decision to post videos documenting his Covid-19 treatment has slowly turned into a tragic Facebook confessional pic.twitter.com/pNpLcs61wD
— Brianna Keilar (@brikeilarcnn) August 5, 2021