Coming "down the curve" is about to create some really strange politics. Republicans will become more progressive as they eagerly look for ways to move away from status quo policies of closures and restrictions. On the other side, Democrats will become more conservative as they seek to maintain these policies, fearful of another trip up the curve.
Meanwhile, we're stuck in the middle, exhausted and ready to move on. We're eager for a payoff from all of our efforts. We want to travel and visit family and friends. Hell, even people that hate crowds want to congregate a bit. Personally, I want to have a big family dinner at grandma's house, go to a restaurant with friends, and go to a baseball game. And. And. And.
Science tells us this will all be ok to do, too. The vaccines work. At preventing hospitalizations and death, they're nearly perfect. Each of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines have shown effectiveness against the new variants. And on the question of whether they prevent transmission, basic virology and immunology tell us that no vaccine prevents all transmission, but any effective vaccine will reduce transmission. And, don't forget, the mRNA platforms they're built on are the technological silver linings of the entire pandemic - they can be adapted relatively quickly as new variants develop. It's the annual flu vaccine guessing game on a much shorter timeframe and without the guessing. We will benefit from this in the short term as the SARS-CoV-2 virus evolves, and in the long run as new viruses emerge, as they always do.
Oddly, as Democrats become more conservative through this process, they'll be tempted to shun the science while Republicans, who ignored it completely as the pandemic developed, may suddenly find a reason to embrace it.
We, the pandemic weary public, just need bold leaders to step up and move us forward. Democrats can be bold by bravely continuing to follow the science and recognizing what it's telling us. Republicans can do the same by resisting the urge to call on populist tropes ("reclaim your freedom!") to justify easing of restrictions, and, instead, pointing to the science and affirming its validity to their supporters.
There's obviously common ground here if anyone cares to look for it. It's the science, and it's been in front of us the entire time.
postposted by matt in Saturday, February 20, 2021