Let’s start to vaccinate as many people as possible as soon as possible. This will, together with other technological solutions like air purifiers, UV-C lamps as well as large scale fast testing, enable us to escape the cycle of alternating lock downs. It will also enable us to at least pursue a policy of total eradication of Covid-19. Lock downs work – for a while. They can buy us time. But the economic, social and psychological consequences are immense and we will have to rely as much as possible on other means. Vaccinations are one of our best weapons in this fight.
No. Vaccinations are not a cure-all. Hepatitis, HIV. The flue. Despite vaccines we have not yet eradicated these murderous diseases. But vaccines can be a miracle cure. Look at Polio. Smallpox. Measles. What do Polio, Smallpox and Measles have in common? Unlike Hepatitis, HIV and the Flu our bodies are able, even when especially in the case of Smallpox they are not always fast enough, to fight and eradicate these viruses, acquiring lasting immunity in the process. Covid 19 seems to be in the same league. It’s a killer, especially for the old (say, 55+). But our own bodies are amazingly good at fighting it, albeit now always fast enough. It might do lasting damage – we’re not sure yet about the amount of lasting damage and the prevalence of ‘long Covid’ but it does exist and it’s at the least not extremely rear. So, we have to fight it. Fortunately, our bodies do. And most people acquire long term immunity in the process. Vaccines enhance these amazing powers of our bodies – which is what we want. Resilience, not cures. And surely no lock downs.
Trusting and using technology fits in a ‘left’ tradition. A nice book about this: “Austerity ecologye & the collapse-porn addicts. A defence of growth, progress, industry and stuff” by Leigh Phillips. In a world with ever more people and billions which need better houses, better health care, better education, better clothes and whatever, we can’t combat a new virus by the lock down policy of doing less or doing nothing and restraining the young from partying, studying, travelling or, shorter, living. Ultimately, lock down policies will lead to everybody getting infected. Instead of doing nothing and waiting, we have to do things. We can do things. The technology is available. We already have Chinese and Russian and German and USA vaccines. Indian vaccines are coming. High quality air purifiers – ideal for schools and households – are a proven and cheap technology. UV-C lamps are a newer but also, when it comes to killing the killer, a proven technology. Mass testing using cheap, fast tests can make the difference.
There are no silver bullets when it comes to this virus. We’ll have to use the shotgun approach. Fortunately, the gun can be loaded. Relying on lock downs will, in the end, lead to everybody getting the virus which, as in countries with western demographics around 1% of people infected will die, will lead to tens of millions of victims (estimates of the IFR, the infection fatality rate, differ but I do not see credible estimates of below 0,7% and some estimates are still as high as 1,5% – again, for countries with many elderly). What we need is total eradication. Meaning we can focus attention, again, on eradicating other killers like HIV. Let the vaccinations begin. The sooner, the better.