Old and busted: We’ll open the schools in 100 days.
New hotness: We might have herd immunity by Thanksgiving.
One month ago, we looked at a survey indicating that most Americans thought life might start returning to normal by sometime this summer. That was an attitude promoted by members of the incoming Biden administration. Once we had someone “competent” in charge of this circus, the virus would be whipped into submission, possibly in Uncle Joe’s first 100 days. But now, White House insiders are no longer sounding quite so optimistic. The goalposts are being pushed back yet again and now there are concerns that the mythical “herd immunity” we’re supposed to be striving for won’t happen until late November… if it happens at all. (Daily Beast)
Top members of Biden’s COVID response team are warning internally that the U.S. may not reach herd immunity until Thanksgiving or even the start of winter—months later than originally calculated—according to two senior administration officials.
In an interview with CBS News this week, President Joe Biden hinted at some of these concerns, saying it would be “very difficult” to reach herd immunity—a population-wide resistance to the virus—“much before the end of the summer” with the current daily rate of approximately 1.3 million vaccine doses. Other top officials working on the federal government’s COVID-19 response say the unease about vaccine supply long term and the impact on herd immunity, and have begun to explore ways to expand U.S. manufacturing capacity, potentially through new partnerships with outside pharmaceutical firms.
The bottom line is that health officials are quietly cautioning the Biden administration against getting the public’s hopes up about any sort of return to normalcy in the near future. That’s odd since both Pfizer and Moderna are reportedly working with other pharmaceutical companies to allow them to produce their vaccines as well. If these combined efforts can manage to crank out 640 million doses, every living man, woman and child in the country could receive the required two shots. Yes, that’s a big number, but their combined output is already ramping up to surprisingly prolific levels.
Even Anthony Fauci, he of the infamous moving goalposts, isn’t entirely giving up. He’s quoted this week as saying that he’s “cautiously optimistic” that herd immunity could be reached by the end of the summer. But it’s worth noting that he’s now back to saying 75% is the target vaccination level. By this point, I think we can safely conclude that any percentages that Fauci tosses out for reporters can be safely ignored because he’s just going to change them again the following week.
Perhaps the bigger and more dismal story coming out of this report is that none of these vaccination numbers may matter. Biden’s health officials are warning that the British and South African variants of the novel coronavirus almost certainly won’t be the last mutations to arise. The South African variation is already proving to be less impacted by the Pfizer vaccine, and additional mutations will probably be even more resistant. The CDC is currently studying ways to ramp up genome sequencing to track variants. As more vaccinated people become exposed to the virus the odds increase that the bug will mutate to get around those antibodies and begin reinfecting people who were presumed to be immune.
So what’s the long term plan? They’re currently holding meetings to determine “how to push out the message that Americans need to more closely follow public health guidelines to reduce transmission.” Yep. It’s the same song and dance we’ve been going through for almost a year now. Face masks, social distancing, travel restrictions… the whole crap show we’ve been putting up with throughout the pandemic. The Biden administration is doing basically nothing beyond carrying forward what was done by Trump’s White House and they don’t have any plan (or any intention) of easing up on the restrictions and executive orders.
I can assure you that there is a limit to the country’s patience with all of this. And we’re getting pretty close to it. We cannot live like this indefinitely and no elected official should expect us to.