There is a dreary monotone in government communications about the pandemic, provoking comments to the effect that the government’s messaging is running out of steam and repetitive and some personages are overexposed.
Imaginative strategies to encourage vaccination and the maintenance of mask wearing are urgently needed, particularly in view of the ravages of the Delta variant virus—which is taking unvaccinated communities in the US back to square one in the battle against the pandemic.
The government was slow to acknowledge the arrival of the preceding Gamma (Brazilian) variant for foolish partisan political reasons relating to denial of the extent of our porous borders.
Fortunately, after the prime minister’s bland acknowledgement that the Delta variant ‘could be on its way’ to us and for that reason there must be ‘a greater uptake of vaccines’, by the middle of last week the minister of health confessed to ‘the inevitable arrival of the Delta variant here’.
Getting vaccinated is more imperative than ever. I have been following closely the slew of media statements issued by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in apparent panic at the surge of the Delta variant—now greater than previous surges and categorised as ‘a pandemic of the unvaccinated’.
The CDC has asserted that more than 90% of all cases and more than 95% that resulted in hospitalisations and death were among unvaccinated people.
Equally to be emphasised is the vital function of masks in resisting the consequences of an invasion of the Delta. This can be seen when we consider the reverse gear engaged by the CDC described below.
We must therefore co-operate fully with one thing that our government has got right in the management of the Covid-19 pandemic, namely insistence on the three Ws: Wash Your Hands, Wear Your Mask, and Watch Your Distance.
Although the CDC has continued its insistence that masks must be worn for travel on public transportation including stations and airports, it announced in mid-May that fully vaccinated adults could safely resume activities and gatherings indoors and outdoors without masks and distancing.
The Delta variant has now forced the CDC to retract that decision. One week ago, the CDC dramatically declared that ‘the war has changed’. It now recommends that fully vaccinated persons wear masks indoors.
From mid-August, New York City establishments will be mandated to require proof of vaccination before admitting patrons to indoor dining, performances and gyms.
This is a result of what the CDC described as ‘the pivotal discovery’ that vaccinated persons, although protected against the need for hospitalisation or the likelihood of a fatal outcome, may become infected with the Delta variant and be carriers of it.
CNN, which has reported extensively on the demands for the return to mandatory mask wearing, quoted the director of the CDC as saying that ‘unlike with other variants, vaccinated people infected with Delta can transmit the virus’.
Five weeks ago in a column entitled ‘The Challenge of the Variants’, I referred to the ‘hyper-transmissibility’ of the Delta variant, which is now spreading more rapidly that the original virus. The CDC said it spreads ‘as easily as chickenpox’.
I agree with the prime minister’s statement that we will not advance if ‘we change around the method of cautiousness that we are following’ to the extent that we must discourage carefree feelings among the fully vaccinated.
However, positive messages thanking those who have diligently worn their masks and inviting all to maintain compliance with the WWW recommendations are a required and essential replacement for the repeated scolding and victim-blaming indulged in by the government at its highest levels.
Adding to its warning that ‘the war has changed’, the CDC last week declared that ‘Covid-19 is not done with us yet’. Inattention to the Delta variant will be deadly for the unvaccinated and those who come into contact with them. We need to recommit to the three Ws.
Above all, let’s not become smart-persons of foolishness, Joel Martinez-style, on vaccination, which is designed to prevent hospitalisation and death and so far appears effective in preventing serious illness from Covid-19 infection.
Do we want to go back to square one and finish crashing the economy?