The calendar says that we have begun a new year, but if it wasn’t for the weather changing and road construction, most of us might find it pretty difficult to identify much of anything significant that has changed over the last two years. The narrative that has dominated our life experience during that time has obviously been the same persistent drumbeat related to COVID—masks, testing, vaccines, social distancing, fear, anxiety, and politics politics politics. (Source).
Is This Our New Reality?
By the way, it is okay to acknowledge the reality of this environment, regardless of your personal views and how they might differ from someone else’s perspective—the source referenced at the end of the first paragraph is a good read to help appreciate just how deep some of our problems run. It is not a stretch to say that we all have one thing in common, though: none of us think the current environment is ideal. We might place our focus on different aspects of the current environment, but we all have zero problem finding something to lament.
Lamenting the current state of things, regardless of which aspect happens to be the focus, may very well mean that we just want our “life back," want it to be a healthy life, and want to be able to simply trust and enjoy the company of those those around us—we just have yet to arrive at the ultimate solution for being able to do so. In working toward that solution, it would seem to be obvious that a focus on common ground would be a better way to foster true progress. It would also seem that part of that common ground needs to be a measure of space to allow for where the ground is not so common—that is, and needs to be, okay as well.
Recently, some developments have occurred, however, that might signal a sea change in what the response to the virus looks like. First, the Omicron variant of the virus has proven to be more contagious, but less severe (Source). Second, breakthrough cases, as defined as someone who has contracted the virus despite being fully vaccinated, have become a very real part of our experience, and the pace of those cases has been accelerating (Source).
This has resulted in the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director, Dr. Anthony Fauci, recently making the statement, “I think in many respects, Omicron with its extraordinary, unprecedented degree of efficiency of transmissibility, will ultimately find just about everybody” (Source). If the virus will “ultimately find just about everybody,” and if some response measures were put in-place exclusively for the sake of preventing the contraction of the virus, then it would seem that a change in perspective related to whether prevention is even possible would be accompanied by a change in perspective related to the merits of strategies aimed at prevention.
Indeed, some notable changes have come in that department.
First, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reduced their protocol for individuals who become infected with the virus—whereas a 10-day quarantine period was initially called for upon an individual becoming infected, that has now been reduced to a suggestion of a 5-day period, followed by 5 days of wearing a mask (Source).
Second, individuals infected with the virus and who are symptomatic are being allowed to work (Source).
Third, European Union regulators have warned that a program predicated upon repeated booster injections could impair one's immune system (Source).
Fourth, the World Health Organization (WHO) has now said, “…a vaccination strategy based on repeated booster doses of the original vaccine composition is unlikely to be appropriate or sustainable” (Source). I would be remiss if I didn't include the news of the United States Supreme Court overturning President Biden's vaccine mandate (Source).
More over, at least one newspaper, the Danish Ekstra Bladet, has come out with an apology for the way that they have covered the pandemic (Source). Absent a more effective vaccine, which the WHO also discussed in its statement, it is understandable if the moves mentioned above, as well as others not mentioned here, are interpreted as being reflective of a more accepting disposition toward the virus. In fact, England has drop virtually all COVID requirements and restrictions, including their vaccine mandate and vaccine passport system, with the prime minister, Boris Johnson, saying that , "we must learn to live with Covid in the same way we live with flu" (Source).
The significance of this issue, in general, is obvious, as are the economic implications. Economic activity benefits from freedom—the freedom to work, consume, or even just simply being able to move, which is the way we encounter new opportunities to work and consume. Our abilities to work, consume, and move have most certainly been impacted, albeit to different degrees, over the past two years, expressly because of the presence of the virus. If society is becoming more accepting of the virus, then we would expect this to translate to a more free way of living with the virus.