Here’s how the future looked to me in October 2020:1
The optimistic scenario, is that the vaccine is rolled out in Spring 2021, and all of this goes away over the course of the next eighteen months. A major point against optimism, is that Covid has given a lot of terrible, petty, mediocre people a great deal of power, and they won’t be willing to give that up, ever. … It merely plays into their hands, that most of the vaccine candidates will likely provide limited immunity, might be dangerous for children, and possibly less effective for the elderly. …
A more pessimistic scenario, is that Covid devolves into an eternal nuisance after the pattern of climate change, but more intrusive. The vaccine comes, but mass testing and containment policies remain in place. Over the next several years, most countries fight their disease bureaucrats towards some minimally acceptable long-term compromise. … Full lockdowns, contrary to the interests of many industries, are phased out, but less costly interventions return every year in time for Christmas. … Should SARS-2 become especially rare, then other seasonal respiratory illnesses, like the flu, could be pressed into service. …
To nobody’s surprise, we did not get the vaccinator paradise. BioNTech, Moderna and AstraZeneca have not eradicated SARS-2, and this has been very bad for the imprudent politicians and public health gurus who presided over the past two years of social and economic destruction. It has left them to find their own way out of the maze, with no help from The Science that they so love to follow. But, we did not quite get the unmitigated purgatory of undifferentiated, ongoing containment either. In the event, there was Omicron, a third way.
Omicron has proven to be incompatible with the containment regime, at least as currently organised. After a few months, the vaccines enhance Omicron transmission. The hardliners used their non-pharmaceutical interventions to drive everyone into the arms of the vaccinators, and now that the vaccines drive Omicron infections up, they just have no policies left. All that remains is the petty legal harassment of the unvaccinated.
As if that weren’t enough, Omicron has unpredictable seasonality and it has finally made an open farce of contact tracing. The understanding that infection waves have their own dynamics, which like the weather are beyond our influence, is now implicit across establishment media. And finally, as I’ve noted before, billions of people now have personal experience with SARS-2 infection, which makes state propaganda about the grave threats posed by the virus a far harder sell.
Some countries responded to these developments by dropping all pandemic measures, in some cases more or less overnight. Others, like Germany, are fighting to keep at least some of the Corona circus up and running. Superficially, you might say that in these jurisdictions, the stalemate I envisioned has actually come to pass, but that would be wrong. It’s not any institutional or political opposition, but rather nature and the virus itself, which has put the pandemicists on the defensive. They are left to ponder the possibility of future, deadlier variants which will require a return to harder containment policies and perhaps a new round of mass vaccinations in the fall. Meanwhile, almost everybody has SARS-2 antibodies of one kind or another. The virus must from now on operate in a world of pervasive immune resistance. We will know more after the fall, but I think it’s very doubtful that SARS-2 can ever summon the future variants necessary to restore its fading power.