05 August 2021

Kamikaze anti-vaxers

At the current phase of the covid-19 pandemic, the US finds itself in the peculiar position of being morally obligated to attempt that which is almost certainly impossible.

I assessed the situation here last week.  Of 258 million US adults, 80 million (31%) are unvaccinated.  Given the far higher transmissibility of the delta variant, it will probably infect most or all of that population within about four months (except for those among them who do get vaccinated in the meantime).  And given the greater severity of the disease it produces, including in young and otherwise healthy people, this could mean a death toll in the millions.

Vaccinated people can still contract the delta variant -- the main protection the vaccine provides is that if they do contract it, it very rarely progresses to really serious illness.  So vaccinated people are basically potential carriers -- they almost never get very sick, but they can transmit the virus to unvaccinated people who are at much greater risk of severe illness or death.

Frankly, I am long past caring about the willfully unvaccinated -- the Trumpanzees and conspiracy believers and miscellaneous idiots who make up the great majority of that 80 million.  These are the people in the "fuck your feelings" T-shirts, the ones who cheered Trump on through every lie and betrayal, the BFYTW assholes, the people who keep bellowing that global warming is a hoax while half the northern hemisphere dries out and burns, the morons who call masks "face diapers" and spent the last year and a half bullying store clerks who were required to enforce masking rules, the Deliverance mutants who will shit on anything and everything to "own the libs".  They hate and despise people like me, and they aren't shy about saying so straight out, and I have no qualms about returning the sentiment.  The more of them the delta variant mows down, the better off the country will be.

So it's tempting to say, as Andrew Sullivan does:  let it rip.  Almost all the people who die will be those who freely chose to make themselves vulnerable while spitting in our faces, and there's no reason for those of us who were responsible, who wore masks and got vaccinated, to accept any further annoying precautions to protect assholes who refuse to lift a finger to protect themselves (or anyone else).

The problem is the potential innocent victims.

There are some people who, for legitimate medical reasons, can't get the vaccines.  There are some people with immune-system problems for whom the vaccines do not work.  There are some people who, even if they are fully vaccinated, have other medical conditions which put them at risk of serious harm if they do nevertheless get infected (here is the voice of one such person).  The numbers of such cases are relatively small, but they matter, and the wingnuts are endangering them by rejecting the vaccines and other precautions.  So the government needs to press on with its efforts to vaccinate as many of the remaining 80 million as possible.

This is, by the way, why even vaccinated people should return to mask-wearing in high-transmission regions.  Masks mainly protect other people, not the wearer.  Since vaccinated people can get the virus and transmit it even though they rarely get very sick, wearing masks still helps protect those who are vulnerable for the above reasons.

There's also the issue of indirect effects of overwhelming the health-care system.  As hospitals get swamped with covid-19 patients, the capacity available to treat "normal" emergencies like heart attacks and strokes is correspondingly reduced.  Some number of additional deaths will result from this.

Unfortunately, as I noted at the beginning, the task of persuading the great majority of the vaccine refusers is almost impossible.  As far as I can see, right-wing blogs and sites are still just doubling down on the same old misinformation and conspiratardia.  The vaccines are killing huge numbers of people and may even be a plot to reduce the world's population by killing or sterilizing people.  It's a conspiracy of globalists / Jews / Satanists / pedophiles (yes, really) to enslave us all.  Doctors are exaggerating covid-19 death numbers because they somehow make money that way.  Biden is a pedophile and Fauci is an evil monster who conspired with China to create the virus in the first place.  Most of the people now getting hospitalized are vaccinated, not unvaccinated.  Hydroxychloroquine works (yes, some of them are still pushing that) and the vaccines don't.  The fight against masks and vaccines is an existential struggle against descending tyranny.  Republican leaders who now urge vaccination are "cucks", lackeys of the vast conspiracy.  You need to spend some time reading this stuff in their own words, not mediated through left-wing paraphrases, to grasp how hopeless the task of coaxing the hard-core wingnuts out of this seething maelstrom of bullshit really is.  It's become part of their tribal identity.

Yes, the number of people getting newly vaccinated has ticked up a bit; it's about half a million a day now.  But that's nowhere near enough to work through eighty million people fast enough to avert mass deaths, even if it continues at that rate, which I doubt it will.  What we're doing is collecting the last of the low-hanging fruit, the people who hadn't been vaccinated out of laziness or relatively weak objections.  For them, monetary incentives or restrictions on unvaccinated people's access to workplaces and public spaces are effective.  The hard-core Fox-addled wingnuts, who really believe that this is all a vast evil conspiracy, are a different matter.

The one thing that, so far, does seem to be able to bring them around is seeing their unvaccinated relatives or close friends die of covid-19.  But each such death convinces only a few other people, so to reach tens of millions of anti-vaxers would take millions of deaths.

The government must do what it can, and we must do what we can, for the sake of the innocent potential victims.  But the wingnuts are now in what amounts to kamikaze mode, and while they can't win that way (whatever that would even mean), we must recognize that we probably can't stop them from doing a lot of damage.


Blogger Sixpence Notthewiser said...

I never thought I'd find myself agreeing with Andrew Sullivan but here we are. That being said, I cannot fathom why, having access to the vaccine, people still refuse it. Yeah, I know, conspiracy theories, stupidity and entitlement. But with so many people around the world in need of the vaccine, it comes across as crass and a clear indicator or privilege.
I also worry about the people who cannot get vaccinated for medical reasons, or the people who have underlying conditions that would make getting COVID-19 a death sentence. But empathy has never been a 'conservative' value. Pro-life to them ends when it does not have to do with controlling other people's sex life.


05 August, 2021 02:59  
Anonymous Mark Alexander said...

Right there with ya, buddy. They're absolutely INSANE, and the fact that everything seems to be opening back up while Delta rages is just as crazy.

05 August, 2021 07:37  
Blogger Jimmy T said...

Of course we're all concerned for those "innocents" who are unable or do not yet qualify for the jab for the highly infectious Darwin variant. I wish them well. One the more amazing details that doesn't often get mentioned is how much more infectious the new variant is. The earlier virus infected person could be expected to spread it to two maybe three other people. The Darwin variant triples that number to nine other people, a geometric increase. And being like the chickenpox virus you can catch it where some infected person has just walked by exhaling the virus as he/she passes. Further still vaccinated people can catch it and spread is without knowing they have been infected. This adds up to some fairly bleak times coming down the road, particularly amongst the antivaxxers. While I would never wish the virus upon anyone, I recognize the fact that what were seeing is natural selection on an accelerated time line...

05 August, 2021 08:03  
Blogger SickoRicko said...

Another very excellent post. Pardon my ignorance, but what does BFYTW mean?

05 August, 2021 08:44  
Blogger Ranch Chimp said...

(PT.1 of 2) I hear your frustration ... my daughter early this morning was blaming the 500% one month rise in Dallas County hospitalizations on the people who refuse to get vaccinated, I could sense her frastration in her voice, which is unusual for her. I don't know how you fix this situation, at all, without trying to force some kind of mandate, then even, you may be subject to lawsuits. And I believe like you, that much of this is "tribal", I myself don't embrace any of the tribes, so my reason for getting vaccinated was simply common sense, and listening to epidemiologists, virologists (not just from America, either), etc, so nothing to do with listening to politicians, left/right, religions/cults, corporations, etc. There have been a few anti-vax folks while dying from it, on their death bed, asked nurses for the vaccine, of course it was too late. We have people refusing what seems to work (vaccines) for the most part in America, so far ... while millions across the globe can't even get vaccines, and here they're giving them FOR FREE! ... Dallas is saturated with vaccine places, some towns are giving away tickets to ball games, dinners, cash, etc. Some of the right wing reasons you mentioned you heard, are amazing, some sound hilarous, although I know this is not something to laugh at. As you know, as I mentioned back over a year ago, I expected to see new strains, periodic outbreaks, etc ... I didn't expect it to be at this level of intensity, I guess, we have so many more weapons to fight than we did in the Spanish Flu early 20th century outbreak, and because I really expected more folks to take advantage of the vaccines. Sadly there is so much info being fed to people, about the elaborate conspiracies of government and elites to depopulate, programme the masses, or change our DNA, I guess ... and trying to convince them it's not so seems difficult, as telling some folks there isn't some sort God figure looking out for us.

There is also big problems (as usual) between the Governor (Abbott) and the City and County of Dallas, again. We just asked the Governor for extra help for hospitals and nurses, because of the recent rise in hospitalizations, the Governor, has done everything from ignoring our requests, to making us have to ask for federal help, to threatening us with lawsuits, now. Because he just made law that no local governments in Texas can mandate masks, not even public schools, and Dallas County had ignored the Governor, making you wear masks in all government facilities, Abbott got mad, and is basically, once again, trying to punish us in various ways. This Governor has done nothing but bully Dallas his entire term as Governor, from masks, to transgender bathroom issues, to voting rights, and just about anything else that he don't personally like, including all related to the pandemic ... it's quite obvious that he specifically targets Dallas County, as well as Harris County (Houston) year, after year, after year, for every little goddamn thing, even recently challenging the Dallas Police, who were bucking his decision to let everyone walk around armed without a concealed carry permit which DPD didn't like, because they said, they can't tell the good guys from the bad guys with guns, and basically said it was a dumb decision, of course Abbott got mad and fired back on DPD, and he don't like our new Chief (DPD), who is the former Chief of San Jose (CA).

05 August, 2021 09:24  
Blogger Ranch Chimp said...

(PT.2 of 2) My wife and I had the Pfizers back January this year (we're both senior citizens). I have not had any COVID tests since late last year, only 2, up the nose with the plastic wire thing (which was the most accurate at that time), both negative, but no tests since, so I guess it's possible I could have it, too (?), I haven't been sick, tired, out of breath, or had colds, etc ... but maybe I should test again in the future ... I'm waiting to see if those of us that have been vaccinated need a booster (3rd shot), which I'll get if they decide to give them. Also in the start of the year, most hospitals (all that I know of in Dallas) were offering vaccines to all nurses and their family members ... we have 5 RNs (registered nurses) in my family, so this also enabled our family to even get all the teens vaccinated way back in January, my daughters organized it all, for other family members. Bottom line, August 2021, it is so easy to get free vaccines all over town 7 says a week ... yet some are saying they have a hard time getting them, why? ... I have no idea. BTW, did you get the vaccine? ... and if so, which one, or your preference? and did you get side effects? ... I myslef, had no effects that I know of, or felt, besides very slight sore arm where they administered the shot, the day after.

05 August, 2021 09:24  
Blogger Mike said...

A perfect example of who they are putting at risk is my daughter. She is immune-compromised because of the medication she takes. She had two Pfizer shots. She was tested and shows no immunity. I've read articles about people like her that get a third shot and then show some immunity.

How they got that third shot is a mystery. She and I have both called around and checked with medical friends and it's all the same answer. If you've had your two shots you can't get another because of the way the shots are paid for through the government. You can't even just pay for it and get one. There's no medical code to allow that.

And yes we've thought about just lying about not having any shot yet. But that could turn out to be a bigger problem in the long run.

05 August, 2021 09:41  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Sixpence: A lot of them do genuinely believe the nonsense they spout. It's still willful ignorance, though. There's no excuse for literate people in the 21st century to take the word of talk radio and preachers over that of scientists and doctors on an issue like this.

Mark: They seem to be following Trump's example -- open everything up and gamble that the rise in economic activity will outweigh the rising piles of corpses in the eyes of the voters. It didn't work for Trump and it doesn't seem to be working now. DeSanitize in Florida, at least, has dropped about ten points in the polls since becoming the super-spreader poster boy.

Jimmy: Delta has really changed the entire situation. It's almost like a whole new pandemic. Thank goodness the vaccines, at least, are still working.

Ricko: Thanks! BFYTW stands for "because fuck you, that's why". It's fairly commonly used on some wingnut blogs in place of an explanation, when threatening one of their usual pointlessly shitty tantrums over something or other.

Ranch: It's bizarre, but again, a lot of them really do believe this batshit-crazy stuff that's been circulating on the net. Some also claim that Bill Gates is using vaccination to inject microchips into everybody so he can track them (of course, most of these people carry smartphones, so they can easily be tracked anyway).

A lot of Republican governors are basically at war with the democratic leaning-cities in their states. The same kind of thing is happening in Florida. I guess it plays well with the wingnut voting base. "Owning the libs" is all that matters.

Glad you got the family vaccinated. I got the Johnson & Johnson vaccine about three months ago, because that's what they were using in my area. No side effects except a few hours of drowsiness.

Mike: Yes, I've seen your previous comments about that, and I partly had her in mind when I wrote that. Medical opinion seems to be moving to favor booster shots, so perhaps they will be offered in not too much longer. In the meantime, all the rest of us can do for people in her situation is to use masks so we don't risk spreading the virus if we happen to be infected but have no symptoms.

05 August, 2021 10:15  
Blogger Shaw Kenawe said...

Yup. I read their ignorant rants about wearing masks and getting the vaccine and wonder how they manage to sit up, never mind get dressed and leave messages on blogs and news sites.

I've been calling it a Trump-induced mass psychosis. I can't think of any other reason so many people can so willfully disregard science, common sense, and common decency.

Masks: Have any of these people ever been in an OR? If they have, did they ever wonder why the doctors and nurses wear masks in the OR? Apparently they can't make the connection between masks and protecting a patient from microbes?

Vaccines: I don't remember people screaming about their FREEDOMS! when children had to be vaccinated to enter public school, to gain entrance to certain countries that require shots in order to visit.

Also, where were these FREEDOM! lovers when a ban on smoking EVERYWHERE, airplanes, trains, restaurants, bars, etc. was imposed? Seat belts?

Oh, I give up!

05 August, 2021 14:20  
Blogger NickM said...

The part of the USA I know best is the SE - particularly Georgia, particularly the Atlanta Metro Area. GA is weird. About half the population of the State live in what I have (I think accurately) heard described as a "Northern City that just happens to be in the South".

Drive out into the sticks a bit and it's very different. Things like Stone Mountain and such (do they still have the "Confederama" there? The difference between Metro USA and the Boonies seems enormous to me. If anything the gulf seems to be growing - though I'm basing that on the news and such - I haven't been to the USA for nearly 15 years.

I live in a village very close to Manchester (similar population to Atlanta) and we just don't have quite the same abrupt change here in England. OK, people are richer and have bigger gardens in the 'burbs (and so tend to be more economically right-wing) but social attitudes... Nah! Is that perhaps because there is very little to choose on the social front between say Labour and Tory? Or is that why there is very little to choose? By which I mean - which is cause and which is effect?

I dunno. I do know that, for example, gay marriage is just not an issue here. I know there are some gobshites (there are always some gobshites) but we have gay marriage and almost nobody really seems to care that one of our top Olympians, Tom Daley (a diver), is married to a bloke. It's a bigger deal that Daley knits cardigans for charity during his time between dives. He's well on the way to National Treasure status.

If I'd written the above a couple of years ago it would be completely true. I wonder now because of the increasingly aggressive (and deranged) trans movement. But there isn't enough time or space here to get into that. I also don't want to fall foul of your comments policy.

05 August, 2021 16:13  
Blogger Kwark said...

I find it is now beyond my ability to care about what happens to those who chose to avoid vaccination. So as ever more Covid variants appear (thanks in part to the unvaccinated) and ICUs fill it seems to me that the unvaccinated idiots should be at the absolute bottom of the priority list. "Thank you for coming now go home". BFYTW.

05 August, 2021 16:22  
Blogger Lady M said...

Many are heading to South Dakota for Sturgis - let the super spreading begin.

05 August, 2021 21:31  
Blogger Lady M said...

This is a powerful essay in the Huffpost by an ICU Doctor - https://www.huffpost.com/entry/icu-doctor-health-care-workers-unvaccinated-patients_n_6102ad2ae4b000b997df1f17?utm_source=pocket-newtab

06 August, 2021 06:53  
Blogger yellowdoggranny said...

I'm rude nasty and in their face...wear a mask or get the fuck away from me..go kill someone else's grandma

06 August, 2021 09:34  
Blogger Bohemian said...

Conspiratardia has a great ring to it! Sadly, all of what you have said is inevitable... I say Sadly ONLY because Innocents will suffer, Children are now making up 20% of Hospitalizations in the ICU and needing Ventilators, which is a staggering number since they can't even qualify for a Vaccine yet if they're under 12 and the 12-15 Crowd is only about 10% vaxxed due to Parental hesitancy... and they're not Old enough to just go get it themselves without Parental consent! My Grandchild just started her Sophomore Year, she's fully vaxxed but has comorbidities since Birth, she's concerned that due to AZ having Covidiot Governor Dumbass Ducey, her High School can only strongly suggest Mask wearing! She said too many Teachers aren't even wearing Masks or trying to Socially Distance now and she did abysmally with Pandemic Home Schooling since she's a Special Needs Child on an IEP and they didn't provide the Special Services Online all of last Year, so she had to spend all Summer in Summer School recapturing Credits lost. It's a fucking mess and I resent that the ReTrumplican Politicians and their Cult Base have caused so much of this by Politicizing a Pandemic Disease... as if a Virus could give two shits about their Politics! Just makes them handy Hosts offering themselves up to potential mutant Variant Strains that might just become Vaccine resistant enough to kill us all off potentially!

06 August, 2021 22:47  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Shaw: It's part of a broader anti-rationalist mentality which has been around since before Trump was born -- anti-vax delusions have existed for as long as vaccines, and hostility to science has existed as long as science has. What's different now is that such attitudes have wholly captured a major political party. I attribute that mainly to the Republican decision to embrace religious fundamentalism in the 1970s, and the systematic stoking of hysteria by talk radio and other wingnut media over the last couple of decades. Trump rode that wave to power and gave the anti-rationalism its current form.

If they were capable of spotting the kind of contradictions you point out, they wouldn't be anti-rationalists in the first place.

And in some quarters there's still plenty of bitching about smoking restrictions, even now.

Nick: I've never been to the southeastern US, what we just call "the South" (I've been to Texas, but that's rather different). It is definitely the most backward part of the country. Atlanta is different because big cities are always more educated and culturally diverse. But outside of Florida (which isn't really part of "the South" any more), the region doesn't have any really large metro areas other than Atlanta.

The blue/red, urban/rural cultural and political polarization has gotten enormously worse in the last decade or two, for the reasons I mentioned in my reply to Shaw. From seeing the country fifteen years ago, it would be impossible to imagine what it's like now.

I would say the two main parties in the UK (and in most other Western democracies) are equivalent to the two wings of the US Democratic party -- the Clinton/Obama/Biden centrist wing vs the Sanders/Warren/Ocasio-Cortez left wing. There's really no major party similar to our Republicans in any other Western democracy, as far as I know. The nearest UK equivalent to our Republicans would probably be the Islamist extremists.

07 August, 2021 03:46  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Kwark: I'm inclined to agree with you. Emergency rooms, by law, can't turn anyone away, but ICUs ought to be able to prioritize people who didn't engage in deliberately self-destructive behavior, just as an alcoholic gets a lower priority for a liver transplant than a person with healthier habits.

Lady M: Sturgis was bad enough last year. With the greater infectiousness of the delta variant, it's going to be a disaster this time.

I don't know how doctors and nurses put up with all the bullshit they get from covidiot patients. If I were in their position, I'd probably quit and look for a job in a saner part of the country.

Granny: Can't blame you. It's not much different from somebody who walked around with a gadget lightly misting the air around him with poison gas.

Bohemian: The fact that the delta variant seems able to produce serious symptoms in children -- which the original covid-19 almost never did -- is one of the alarming things about it, especially since even blue-state governments are so gung-ho to push everyone back to in-person schooling. The FDA needs to re-assess vaccinations for children under 12. It may be necessary. The government may even need to make it mandatory as a condition of attending school, as with other vaccines.

07 August, 2021 03:58  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Infidel, being raised by a the "old left", let me be clear in my "finger wagging". What you say as the "Democratic" party are all liberals in general and support capitalistic debt expansion. As to a poster above about the "insane" trans movement: never would happen with the old left. Homosexuals according to my old man, were enemies of the proletariat. "Trannies" needed sent to asylum's and experimented on by Doctors of psychology. I bet some "Right Wing" heads would explode at those beliefs. You as they say are part of the "New Left". You value classical liberal memes of individual freedom, which are heretical to socialism. Classical Socialism(British) and Classical Communism(French) simply would be sickened by what you call as "left wing" nowadays. Gay marriage is a great example of this problem. A real leftist doesn't believe in state driven marriage. Matter of fact, from the Victorian and classical Marxist view, women were collective property. Feminism itself birthed quite a bit from classical liberalism. Not Socialism. In Socialism it was up to men how much they worked, where their skills were best applied and how those skills would be applied to society.

Modern politic is boring. It needs a shakeup. That is why I like the Sovereign Citizen movement and Eco-Fascist movement. Both represent post-right/post-left ideology that is sick of debt driven capitalism(now based around the US dollar). Both for different reasons, want it to die. Let the banking houses collapse. Corporations go into default. Small business would perish then, in droves. Finally, currency collapse. Famine, supply lines, disease would spread. Nothing would work to bring it back. The bourgeois state would eventually collapse. The industrial revolution was a science driven fluke for Capitalism. It made the system seem like it worked. Without its innovation, capitalism can't spend like it used to and it takes huge amounts of debt to keep the system afloat. That is no way to sustain it.

As my father said before he died and a fan of the unabomber he was "the free market wants white kids to die", give it what it wants and teach them lessons about this planet it will". "The planet will be saved". "Non-white's" will die in droves". "White men free from Christianity, will truly return to planet".

10 August, 2021 16:11  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Anon: Sorry, that's buzzword salad. (I do know what the "sovereign citizen" thing is, and they're complete nutcases.) I'd recommend starting your own blog.

11 August, 2021 07:12  

Post a Comment

<< Home