Originally published at CounterPunchThe future does not look bright, regarding the health of the human species. What it looks like is, well, lots of people dying from covid, all the time, as the virus mutates, becomes endemic and slashes life expectancy in countries that have not controlled it. Seventy-five percent of the Americans who died from covid were over age 65. That’s 600,000 dead seniors. Which made the U.S. health care muddle a byword among nations. So while covid is a disease for all people and animals, it remains a fatal one for the elderly, even if one variant, omicron, is milder. Reduced longevity looms, going forward. This is a permanent setback for the human race.
How well we manage this now endemic virus lies mostly in the hands of individual national rulers. And by that metric, the U.S. does quite poorly. Trump pretended covid didn’t exist (killing hundreds of thousands of people). Biden rode the fact that it did into the white house, promising to tame the virus with “science.” Then he put all his eggs in one basket – vaccination. This strategy was a bust, because many Americans bizarrely confuse simple, sane, public health measures with insulting infringements on freedom.
Also, the vaccine we’ve got in the west doesn’t prevent transmission. In addition, you need a shot every two months for it to work, and God forbid you should try to get another vaccine that might last longer. Those have all been produced by official U.S. enemies, like Cuba, so whether or not they work is irrelevant to our dear leaders. We are never, NEVER allowed to admit they might be superior. So it’s past time for the U.S. to diversify the vaccine-only approach. In this, the Biden team has failed.
Take testing. This has been a fiasco since covid arrived on North American shores and the CDC botched a test for it, losing months during which the virus spread, poorly accounted for. By now, testing should be routine and simple. It is not. Indeed, back in October, given a plan that, according to Business Insider December 24 “called for manufacturing and sending over 700 million rapid COVID-19 tests to Americans ahead of the holidays,” wizards in the Biden administration nixed it. Then omicron struck, revealing the lethal foozle of the Biden refusal. And here we are: Smashing world records for infections – daily. Over one million new cases per day in early January.
The Biden team also neglected treatment. And now it turns out omicron evades two of our three cocktails of monoclonal antibodies that can mitigate and even cure covid. Disastrously, the one that works is in very short supply, because nobody in government thought that, uh, a successful treatment for the coronavirus might be needed. Whaddya know? We need more monoclonal antibodies. Oversights like that make you wonder about the average IQ of Homo Americanus.
If the U.S. wasn’t an insane asylum, a simple, effective method of preventing contagion, namely wearing a mask, would not have become a deadly flashpoint in the culture wars. But Americans being as bonkers as they are, it did. And now store clerks in Texas tremble at requesting a customer to don a mask, because there’s a reasonable chance that will get the clerk shot. So risk exposure to a lethal virus or risk a bullet. A lousy choice, but how echt American. It is a very rare soul in any other country that has to make it.
And red states compete to make that worse. Proving that capitalism worships death, we now have the GOP paying people to contract the virus: So far five GOP-led states have extended unemployment aid to workers laid off because they refused a vaccine. More will doubtless follow. In fact, I expect all the red states that withheld unemployment aid from employees to starve them back into covid-infested workplaces will soon pay people not to get vaccinated. No wonder the nationwide U.S. loony bin has more covid deaths than any other country on earth.
That’s also because U.S. corporations keep their eye on the ball: Profits. When airlines had to eliminate flights over Christmas due to staffing shortages caused by covid, corporate chieftains didn’t waste a minute. They called on the CDC to halve the 10 days it required for isolation for the infected. The CDC (Committee to Defend Corporations, as one wag tweeted) hopped right to and, soon after the request, shortened isolation to five days. This was supposedly a “scientific” decision. The scientist being the Delta Airlines ceo alarmed at sinking profits. That’s the so-called science aiding pathetic, ill-starred Homo Americanus.
So that recently feverish flight attendant, who hasn’t had time to recover from the virus, and who rushed back to work, can now infect an entire planeload of passengers – provided she doesn’t expire on the job from illness and exhaustion. Supposedly only “asymptomatic” people will be forced back to work after five days. Ho, ho.
Meanwhile hospitals stagger under exploding caseloads. According to the Washington Post on December 27, several overwhelmed health care systems took out advertisements urging people to get vaccinated. One ad cites the over 90 percent of covid patients who are unvaccinated. (The short period of mRNA efficacy doesn’t help either.) But in a national madhouse, where some people believe the vaccine turns you into a zombie, or plants CIA chips in your bloodstream, or makes you a communist, or rewrites your DNA to turn you into a fully aquatic rodent, or it just outright kills you – with such hallucinations rampant, how likely do you think it is that vaccine holdouts will change their minds? They don’t care if you tell them they’re batshit crazy. The earth is flat as far as they’re concerned. And that’s that.
No wonder longevity is plunging. Homo Americanus may be doomed. Fortunately, much of the rest of Homo Sapiens exhibits more common sense: They get vaccinated when they can, wear masks, and their governments follow advice about medicine from scientists, not businessmen. Meanwhile, here in the U.S., they might just as well relocate CDC headquarters to the New York stock exchange, ’cause that, evidently, is who’s in charge of the “science.”
Eve Ottenberg is a novelist and journalist. She is the author of Birdbrain.