On an interview with PBS News Hour on Tuesday, April 26th, Dr. Anthony Fauci said “We are certainly right now in this country out of the pandemic phase.”
After over two years of public health officials telling us we are in the pandemic phase, this sounded like hugely important news. At least as important as, for example, the earth-shattering “Caution Urged as States Slow the Virus Fight” published on the front page of The New York Times on March 31st.
Yet on Wednesday, April 27th, there was no mention of Fauci’s statement anywhere in the printed version of The Times, let alone the front page. On that same day, Fauci “clarified” to The Washington Post that we were not out of the pandemic, just “out of the full-blown explosive pandemic phase.”
God forbid anyone should think we were out of danger and able to go back to living our normal lives! Now, Fauci said, we are in “a deceleration of the numbers into hopefully a more controlled phase and endemicity.”
Nowhere could I find any reporters or media outlets questioning Fauci about this incomprehensible gobbledygook or providing answers to obvious questions like: What is a non-acute component of a pandemic? How is a “more controlled phase” different from “endemicity”? And, of course, nobody asked the glaring question: When can we admit that Covid is now endemic and move on?
Well, you might ask, how do we actually know whether or not we’re out of the pandemic? Fauci certainly did not offer a coherent answer. Nor did any other public health official.
As with everything for the last two years, the reliable scientific analysis comes from world experts like John Ioannidis of Stanford University, a professor of epidemiology, statistics and biomedical data. Prof. Ioannidis has been astonishingly consistent and incisive in his analysis of Covid and our response to it, beginning with his March 17, 2020 article in Statists, entitled: “A fiasco in the making” which predicted the calamity we were about to inflict on ourselves at the onset of the pandemic.
Fast forward two years, and in a recent lecture, Prof. Ioannidis turns his expert eye to the end of the calamity. Here he explains that there is not a single measure for when a pandemic ends, but he lists several different reasonable endpoints, and assesses whether or not we have reached them. Four of the top five endpoints he lists are as follows:
- Over 70% of the global population having some immunity – reached in mid/late 2021
- Over 90% of the global population having some immunity – reached in late 2021/early 2022
- Deaths and health system stress returning to pre-pandemic levels – Reached in late 2021/early 2022 in most places
- Very low risk [of bad outcomes] for the vast majority of the population – reached in 2021
Indeed, way back in September 2021, Prof. Jay Bhattacharya, a Stanford professor of medicine, economics, and health research and policy, and co-author of the Great Barrington Declaration, said “The emergency phase of the disease is over.” And he added, prophetically: “Now, we need to work very hard to undo the sense of emergency. We should be treating covid as one of 200 diseases that affect people.”
As we know, instead of dialing down the panic, the media and public health machinery whipped up a frenzy over new variants, waves, soaring case counts, etc. That’s why it’s important for public health officials to make very clear statements about the end of the pandemic so that people can stop worrying about the next wave or variant.
Once the virus is endemic, it is manageable, it doesn’t as much matter how many people test positive because most everyone will have a mild case and hospitals will not be overwhelmed. That’s where we are now. That’s what it means to not be in a pandemic anymore.
Saying it’s no longer a pandemic is not just semantics. It’s important to clearly message the entire population that the time for panic is over. That’s what I thought Fauci was doing, before he tripped all over himself backtracking and flip-flopping.
I live in Philadelphia, where they recently tried to reinstate a mask mandate, only to rescind it three days later. If Fauci et al. just came out and admitted that the virus is here to stay, we will all be exposed (which, by the way, Fauci admitted all the way back on January 12th), and it’s time to move on, that bit of Covid moronics would not have happened.
Nor would so many other ridiculous and discriminatory Covid restrictions that still linger in places like New York (masked toddlers) and my local arts institutions and theaters (mask, vaccine and booster mandates).
Yes, the virus will evolve and new strains will continue to appear. Probably forever or at least a very long time. Many people will get it many times in their lives, as Dr. Vinay Prasad, a Professor of Medicine, Epidemiology and Biostatistics at UCSF, has written and commented on numerous occasions.
We need clear messaging from the media and public health officials that the pandemic is over so we can stop worrying about the next variant or wave that will inevitably occur.
It’s exhausting and demoralizing to continue to live with people who are still in a constant state of panic because our public health officials refuse to admit that the pandemic is over.
It’s exhausting and demoralizing to have to point out, yet again, how the media – for very obviously self-serving reasons — feed on the confusion instead of trying to dispel it.
It’s exhausting and demoralizing to see glimmers of hope, like Fauci’s initial announcement, get muddied, misinterpreted and turned upside down, through more obfuscation and spin, like so much of the news and public health messaging since the pandemic began.
All I can do is continue to point out the hysteria and hypocrisy and scream at the media, Fauci, all public health officials, politicians, and everyone who benefits from fueling Covid panic: enough of this!