There are books abut white fragility which get a lot of attention, both pro and con. Someone needs to write a tome entitled Fragility without any modifier. The pandemic now stalking the world is not the one caused by a newish virus, it’s the one due to a fervid worldwide outbreak of the woollies and wobblies. Read Nicholas Goldberg’s cri de couer in the LA Times. His wife was vaccinated, but his needle has not come up and he’s afraid he’ll die before it does. He’s clearly scared out of his wits, gone loony, daft, witless, nuts, cuckoo, psycho, screwy, touched, unbalanced, batty, barmy, und so weiter. Of course, he’s not alone. Most of the world has joined him on The Good Ship Lollipop. Mr Goldberg is in a conga line led by an octogenarian piper who hasn’t seen a patient in 40+ years. When not throwing out the first pitch at a baseball game said 80 year old is trying to see how many masks a person can wear before succumbing to asphyxiation. Incidentally, do you know how many well conducted scientific studies have shown the beneficial effects of masks in combating COVID-19? Answer – none. There is a study mentioned here previously showing they did not protect the wearer. It seems to have joined Alice wherever she currently resides, it is ignored like a fart during a poetry reading.
But my purpose is not to flog the world’s lunatic response to the current pandemic. The world is too far gone for meaningful criticism or analysis. I want to discuss the current flu epidemic. What flu epidemic? Is there one this season? According to the CDC: “The incidence of influenza is much lower than average for this point in the season and lower than rates for any season since routine data collection began in 2005, including the low severity 2011-12 season. During the 2011-12 season, the rate was 1.6 times higher at this time in the season.”
Why? Well, there are several possibilities, none dispositive. Everyone was urged to get the flu vaccine to prevent simultaneous infections by the two viruses. Could this be the answer? Unlikely, as the flu vaccine is essentially without any effect, at least as measured by hospitalizations and/or mortality.
What about mask wearing and social distancing. I’ve already mentioned the lack of evidence for the effectiveness of masks. Furthermore, there’s no difference in COVID-19 disease between the states that have locked down and rigidly enforced separation from those whose response to the epidemic was more lax. In addition, the incidence and mortality from the new virus peaked in late January when the flu season should have been at its height. Thus, this explanation fails.
Another reason that seems attractive, but which lacks any scientific validation, is that the COVID-19 virus has crowded out the flu – ie, the world can just handle one viral outbreak at a time. As I said, there’s no good explanation for how this flu extinction would be caused, but it seems as reasonable an answer as any other.
When a mania possess a population, irrespective of cause, there’s nothing an individual or group untouched by madness can do to resolve mass derangement. Tincture of time, the grandest medicine of all time, is the only remedy. I’ll end on a hopeful note. We seem to have passed the point where the imposed remedies to fight the current viral outbreak, a relatively mild one using historical references, can prove fatal. We almost succeeded in killing ourselves in an effort to save humanity, but seem to have stopped short of embalming fluid. Send Mr Goldberg a get well card and then go to a restaurant.