Your Humble Blogger finally caught the plague.
First of all: I’m fine. I never had any symptoms (although maybe some mild fatigue was attributable to the plague and not, you know, life in general) and I have tested negative again and been cleared to return to work. Whoo hoo.
I did manage to avoid getting the plague for two and a half years, and the important part of that is that I was able to get triply vaccinated before getting the plague, which may have something to do with it being such a mild case. That is, of course, assuming I have not had it before—had I not tested, I would not have known I had it this week, so presumably I could have had it any of the hundred weeks before this last one. Still and all, I have been lucky. And careful. And also lucky.
My household did not ever test positive on the rapid tests, so that’s all right, too. I isolated in the home for a few days, and since I happen to have a large enough home and paid time off and decent air-conditioning and internet, I was not unduly inconvenienced—that is to say, I was and am able to limit other people’s exposure to this plague without significant cost. Virtue!
That part of it reminded me quite forcibly that my good fortune is not shared by everyone—the more it costs people to isolate, in money and discomfort and lost opportunities and even just boredom, the more people will fail to do it, and the more people will be exposed, and fill our hospitals, and die. And incubate new mutations and variants, as well. This is a policy matter, and we’re not doing the morally right thing or the sensible thing or even the safe thing, which would be to support and protect people who are isolating. And also to share wealth and good fortune and security generally, because this is not the only such situation where socio-economic inequality is dangerous to us all.
As it happens, and by a coincidence, a few people I know were recently at an annual event that they enjoy very much, and that had (of course) not happened for the last two years, and which was simultaneously a source of great joy and also great anxiety—they took great care to protect their event as much as possible, and wound up with a prevalence rate that was… well, anyway, a bunch of people got positive tests, and some went home early, but they didn’t have to shut the whole damn’ camp. And as far as I know (which is only as far as I know) no-one has been hospitalized, so yay vaccines again. But I think it’s safe to say that the event (from what I hear) was not what it was in the Beforetimes, despite the organizers and attendees doing All the Right Things.
And I’m thinking: what will be different next summer?
Maybe this is the difference between ‘pandemic’ and ‘endemic’, but—I don’t see any reason, right now, to think that next summer this group could meet without the same thing happening. Maybe it wouldn’t—probabilities are strange things—but we are not expecting any very different vaccine, any newly effective protocols, any herd immunity that would lead me to think that a gathering of a couple of hundred people in July 2023 would be any safer, from a pandemic point of view, than one in July 2022.
The likeliest thing, I think at the moment, is that we’ll just stop testing so much. I have already had the temptation, several times, to not test in a situation where a positive test would deprive me of something I really want—a visit, or a concert, or whatever. Even this week, if I hadn’t tested myself, I could have had a more pleasant weekend—gone to a concert, maybe—and saved up my sick days at work, and it wouldn’t have endangered me at all, and probably not endangered my family and friends very much, either. Probably.
And when we don’t test so much, we’ll be more relaxed. The vaccines will still work! Most people will experience the whole thing as maybe this is the plague, or maybe it’s a cold or something and then get better. Maybe we will be most people! We probably won’t have another month where a hundred thousand people die of this disease, but maybe we will never have another week where fewer than a thousand die of it.
Or, you know, maybe by next year there will be a different pandemic.
Tolerabimus quod tolerare debemus,