This should have created a natural limiting principle on government action. That is, government would take extreme measures to avoid a systemic collapse, but once that was not at risk, those measures could be removed, and we’d return to people making decisions based on their own individual risks assessments and social conscience. But we ignored this limiting principle. Instead, we migrated into the mindset in which restrictions wouldn’t be lifted until we met some sort of arbitrary and constantly shifting standard of safety.
As problematic as this approach was, the idea of maintaining restrictions with hundreds of millions of vaccine doses becoming available in the coming months is far more troubling.
Pretty soon, everybody over 65 will have had the chance to have obtained a vaccine that is near perfect in preventing hospitalization and death. This population has accounted for over 80% of deaths during the pandemic. On top of this, medical professionals will have had vaccine access as well as those with medical conditions that make them more vulnerable.
At that point, there will be no realistic risk that the hospital system is going to collapse with a flood of COVID-19 patients. And those who are most susceptible to severe COVID-19 will enjoy the protection of a vaccine if they want it.