Dr. Graham is the most frequent guest on the Paradocs Podcast and has appeared 5 previous times to discuss COVID (they can be found here, here, here, here, and here). Today, we talk a lot of COVID but also what it takes to retire amidst a pandemic. Do you need extra financial security during these times? What strategies work best? But mostly, we discuss Graham’s optimistic feeling on where we are with the pandemic.
The Pandemic is Ending
Dr. Graham’s very optimistic that we are in the final stages of the pandemic. Both from a scientific, social, and political aspect. Scientifically, we are closely approaching the point where nearly everyone in America has been infected or acquired immunity to COVID from vaccination., This will significantly reduce the chances of mortality and move future infections to less severe. Socially and politically we are definitely seeing a shift away from shaming and hysterical calls for zero-COVID towards a more rational approach of accepting the virus’ endemicity and learning to live with its presence without extreme mitigation measures.
There also seems to be a real reckoning that most of what we did to prevent transmission was largely ineffective even within the ruling class. This is an important point that makes it less likely that these measures will be broadly pushed in the future. Of course, there are still further calls to now push vaccine passports and mandates but the utility of them is crumbling as we see that vaccination is hardly effective at preventing the spread of the virus. Pushes to continue mask mandates except to N95s are present in some communities (especially schools) has occurred but are being met with even more hostility from the lay public.
One Way Masking is Now Possible
As for N95s, it is clear that they are fairly protective for individuals and all other masks have limited utility. This means that if you are an individual who wants extra protection from others, you can simply don the N95 yourself. This also means, that others can operate in their lives in a pretty normal capacity without worrying about others. Since vaccinations and boosters are widely available, anyone can get the protection they want without having to worry about others and what their ‘status’ is. This is a huge leap forward and Graham argues is the way forward with schools and businesses as it allows those who want extra protection to protect themselves and those who choose not to to live a fairly normal life. It is probably the only politically feasible path forward for our schools and everyday life.
Paxlovid is a Game Changer
Finally, Dr. Graham spoke a little in that he is more optimistic because Paxlovid, the novel protease inhibitor, is now approved and has had amazing therapeutic results for those at risk of serious complications with COVID. It also may serve as a platform or basis for future therapeutics in other respiratory viruses. Yet another reason to be optimistic on the future of the pandemic. You can listen to my latest discussion with Dr. Monica Gandhi to get her explanation of Paxlovid in episode 154.