In 1966, Vermont Senator George Aiken, addressing the Vietnam War, said that it was time to declare victory and go home. As usual with such quotes, the reality is perhaps more complicated. But there is a reason why Aiken’s supposed quote has gone down in history. If he didn’t say it, he should have.

In my opinion, we are at an analogous point in the covid epidemic. The time has come to stop vowing to crush covid, or to achieve the impossible goal of preventing a virus from spreading. It is time to declare victory over covid–or a truce, anyway–and go home. The U.K. is now following that path, along with other European countries.

Kevin Roche expresses similar thoughts:

The level of total immunity in Minnesota and the country is very, very high right now. A huge percent of the population is vaccinated or has been infected or both. I would guess there cannot be more than 10% to 15% of the population that has no immune response to CV-19, based on vax stats and seroprevalence surveys and estimates of detected and undetected infection ratios. This Omicron wave has pumped numbers up to a very high level. Remember when the “experts” told us that if we got to 70% or 80% infection the epidemic would be over? I was astounded at those pronouncements because of the misunderstanding of adaptive immunity they evinced, coupled with the widespread and increasing use of oversensitive PCR and antigen tests.

Pretty much everyone else got that wrong, too.

So why isn’t it over despite such high levels of total immunity? Because, for the 100th time, adaptive immunity does not and cannot stop exposure. If people are exposed and there is constant testing, you will find “infections”, most of which have no clinical meaning. Because the virus has a million reservoirs and a far greater ability to survive and travel in the air than we have understood or accepted. Because population immunity does not mean there is no virus; it means that transmission and infections are very low and impose a low morbidity burden. How do the experts not know this, or if they do, how can they be so bad at communicating and even worse at designing policies that take these basic facts into account.

If we only counted as “cases” those infections that had symptoms requiring, requiring, medical care, and we only counted as CV-19 hospitalizations those in which the primary reason for admission was CV-19 and the primary treatment was for CV-19, and we only count as CV-19 deaths those in which the actual cause of death was CV-19 disease; the epidemic is over now. On those more rational parameters, what we have now is a typical or less than typical flu season, and that is how we count flu events.

“The epidemic is over now.” It is time to declare victory and go home. The damage we have done to our children in our futile attempt to “stop the virus” is a crime. We will be living with the consequences for many years to come. Meanwhile, the best thing we can do, as George Aiken may have said many years ago, is declare victory and go home. Let us at least stop inflicting further devastation on the next generation.

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