The End of Corona?
Some speculation about the future.
Here’s how the future looked to me in October 2020:1
The optimistic scenario, is that the vaccine is rolled out in Spring 2021, and all of this goes away over the course of the next eighteen months. A major point against optimism, is that Covid has given a lot of terrible, petty, mediocre people a great deal of power, and they won’t be willing to give that up, ever. … It merely plays into their hands, that most of the vaccine candidates will likely provide limited immunity, might be dangerous for children, and possibly less effective for the elderly. …
A more pessimistic scenario, is that Covid devolves into an eternal nuisance after the pattern of climate change, but more intrusive. The vaccine comes, but mass testing and containment policies remain in place. Over the next several years, most countries fight their disease bureaucrats towards some minimally acceptable long-term compromise. … Full lockdowns, contrary to the interests of many industries, are phased out, but less costly interventions return every year in time for Christmas. … Should SARS-2 become especially rare, then other seasonal respiratory illnesses, like the flu, could be pressed into service. …
To nobody’s surprise, we did not get the vaccinator paradise. BioNTech, Moderna and AstraZeneca have not eradicated SARS-2, and this has been very bad for the imprudent politicians and public health gurus who presided over the past two years of social and economic destruction. It has left them to find their own way out of the maze, with no help from The Science that they so love to follow. But, we did not quite get the unmitigated purgatory of undifferentiated, ongoing containment either. In the event, there was Omicron, a third way.
Omicron has proven to be incompatible with the containment regime, at least as currently organised. After a few months, the vaccines enhance Omicron transmission. The hardliners used their non-pharmaceutical interventions to drive everyone into the arms of the vaccinators, and now that the vaccines drive Omicron infections up, they just have no policies left. All that remains is the petty legal harassment of the unvaccinated.
As if that weren’t enough, Omicron has unpredictable seasonality and it has finally made an open farce of contact tracing. The understanding that infection waves have their own dynamics, which like the weather are beyond our influence, is now implicit across establishment media. And finally, as I’ve noted before, billions of people now have personal experience with SARS-2 infection, which makes state propaganda about the grave threats posed by the virus a far harder sell.
Some countries responded to these developments by dropping all pandemic measures, in some cases more or less overnight. Others, like Germany, are fighting to keep at least some of the Corona circus up and running. Superficially, you might say that in these jurisdictions, the stalemate I envisioned has actually come to pass, but that would be wrong. It’s not any institutional or political opposition, but rather nature and the virus itself, which has put the pandemicists on the defensive. They are left to ponder the possibility of future, deadlier variants which will require a return to harder containment policies and perhaps a new round of mass vaccinations in the fall. Meanwhile, almost everybody has SARS-2 antibodies of one kind or another. The virus must from now on operate in a world of pervasive immune resistance. We will know more after the fall, but I think it’s very doubtful that SARS-2 can ever summon the future variants necessary to restore its fading power.
None of this is to say that Corona will vanish from the earth. The virus itself, together with its institutional legacy, will be with us for a long time.
What has ended, is merely the acute phase of a much larger and longer-term phenomenon. In fact, I think Acute Corona has been over for longer than many of us realised. As staged by pandemic planners, virologists, and politicians, this charade was always meant to close with mass vaccination in the final act. When the vaccines failed, there was a paroxysm of rage and despair, and then the energy was gone. While Omicron finally broke the containment regime, it would’ve come apart in any case. After the vaccines, there was simply nothing left for anybody to do. Sooner or later, one jurisdiction after the other would’ve started looking for the exits. Omicron was the proximate cause only.
We are left, then, with Chronic Corona, because while the specific energies SARS-2 called forth have exhausted themselves, the broader structures responsible for all of this remain not only intact, but strengthened, even optimised, for the pandemics of the future. We’ve entered an uncertain interwar period, where immediate capacity for action is expended, but the driving problems remain unresolved—if anything more deeply ingrained.
There will be no repudiation of lockdowns, masking, and vaccine coercion for a generation or more. Millions of people across the world will now demand their governments respond in this way to every future pandemic threat. The institutional framework and legal understandings necessary to satisfy this demand is in place everywhere. Politicians and pandemicists know how much is possible, they know how much the people will put up with, and the next time they will push beyond even these boundaries.
What I call the ‚pandemic industry‘ has been massively expanded. SARS-related coronaviruses, and SARS-2 specifically, will remain a a focal point of research around the world for a long time, probably for the rest of our lives. That means more lab leaks, harsher responses to milder threats, and constant pressure across academia and the bureaucracy for new laws and new emergency powers.
Here at the bottom, just for fun, let’s check in with virologist and governmental advisor Melanie Brinkmann, who explains to state media organ NDR that we need mask mandates so people who want to mask won’t feel awkward about it:
Let me say very briefly that if I … if the mask mandate goes away, it’s very easy to feel strange, people might say things to you if you wear a mask, and so I really think it’s important that such rules still exist, that we mask indoors, for example.
This is the second time we’ve encountered this sad, farcical argument in as many weeks. What a sorry state the Corona astrologers find themselves in. Even in Germany, it is hard to see how this lasts much longer.