In any normal vaccination campaign — with the goal of 80 to 90 percent uptake — this would be judged a failure. A donor country would be forced to reconsider its methods. And questions would naturally arise: Why would a country with a relatively advanced health system have the highest number of covid deaths in the world? Why were health outcomes so dramatically influenced by class and race? Why didn’t efficacy eventually override stigma? Does this Red Faction have contempt for its elders, as indicated by who has taken the brunt of the casualties? Is this country prepared for any crisis requiring communal action?
There is another question that seems the most unexpected, at least to me. Since death rates for vaccinated people are fully 20 times lower than for the unvaccinated, what force, what faith, what ideology has led a large portion of the country to live so recklessly? We are dealing with a form of polarization that is stronger than self-preservation — a kind of populism that causes populists to die.
Yet most Americans still float down covid river, living in denial of the rocks ahead: new variants, long covid, continuing deaths. Who would have predicted that so many people’s response to an existential crisis should be folk cures and complacency.