Victor Davis Hanson Private Papers

Optimism Inc

Victor Davis Hanson // Private Papers

THE MORE PESSIMISTIC the CDC, Dr. Fauci, and the Biden Administration sound on the pandemic, the more cautiously optimistic I become, albeit as a non-medical observer of the pandemic.

I also do not mean that as a contrarian, but, after all, we are approaching a perfect storm of events that could threaten at last to blow out the virus.

We know from our 2020 experience that cases dip radically in the summer months, and it is now warming a bit every day, encouraging more to go outdoors, increasing natural Vitamin D levels, and reducing the lifespan of the virus in the open air. Yet we are not mired in the false hope of last April to July when the virus seemed at times to go dormant—given we have vaccinations this time around.

The number of those who have tested positive in the US now is about 31,000,000. Some lowball estimates, based on the known positives, suggest that another 30,000,000-60,000,000 either are asymptomatic positives—or neither reported their symptoms nor got tested. So perhaps 60-90,000,000 have natural antibodies? No one has yet made a case that lots of COVID positives can be easily infected twice—at least so far—or, if infected, come down with serious cases. I accept that all these numbers, like those of deaths from COVID, are subject to wide debate.

About 150,000,000 vaccinations have been given. Those with only one vaccination (65-80 percent immunity after 10-14 days) have reached around 50 million, In addition, over 50 million are fully vaccinated with 2 shots. Most studies show that initial data was right that the RNA-modeled vaccinations eventually convey around 90-95 percent immunity, and the Johnson & Johnson 70 percent, with the remaining percentages of vaccinated COVID-19 positive patients either reflecting those who got a mild virus or asymptomatically tested positive.

There are over 70 million Americans under the age of 18, who are likely either to have greater resistance to COVID-19 infection or mild symptoms when infected. 

In theory, then, ca 250-270 million are either not likely to be infected or reinfected, or, if they are, will suffer only asymptomatic or milder cases. The number may be high, given an overlap of those with antibodies who got vaccinations—although, given increased worries over side effects of those with antibodies getting vaccinations, that number may be tapering off. Of course, new strains could also target the young as they do the old.

SO WE MAY BE ACCELERATING to a semi-“herd” of  70-80 percent of the population who will either not get the virus or if it infected does not become especially sick. 

We are vaccinating now at an astonishing rate, reminiscent of the World War II ramp up to a Liberty ship every four-five days or a B-24 made every hour at Willow Run. 

We have been averaging 2.7 million vaccinations a day, or 19 million a week or over 80 million a month. And there is a likelihood the rate will increase rather than decrease or level off, at least in the near future. (March 26 set a record of almost 3.4 million vaccinations given per day in the US). The states’ top-down, red-tape vaccination eligibility mess is fading, and we are reaching a point where the Covid-19 vaccination will soon approximate the flood-the-zone flu shot protocols at the local pharmacy.

Here in California, the change is astonishing. We’ve gone from 40-60,000 new winter infections per day on some days to less than 2,000, as deaths plunge from winter highs of 600-900 per day to 100-200 on some days. 

And the winter was cold, and warm days did not arrive until just this week. California is slowly climbing back from a pathetic vaccination ranking to nearly 360,000 vaccinations per day. 30 percent of the state has received at least one vaccination. Nearly 10 percent has tested positive. And perhaps another 10-20 percent were infected and either did not know it or did not get tested. 16 percent of the population is under 18. Add all those possible numbers up, and we too may be zeroing in on near herd immunity, especially at the rate of 2.5 million vaccinations per week, or 10 million a month–all as the California heat approaches.

I LEAVE YOU WITH known unknowns—in an optimistic vein no less.

1. Our authorities caution us that the infection rates have not dipped so much in the recent week or two. But one thing we have learned about the virus is that it acts geometrically not always arithmetically, and spurts suddenly up (e.g., as life returns to normal) and then down (e.g., as vaccination percentages soar).

2.  Is it not more likely that at some critical point, the mass of those vaccinated and with antibodies will simply collapse the numbers all together and quite suddenly?

3. Will one of these mutant stains show up with immunity to the vaccination or the ability to reinfect the infected? So far that has not happened, and the closer we get to herd immunity and strangling the virus, the less likely widespread new lethal mutants will appear.

4. With the eroding lockdowns, are the daily numbers of vaccinated outpacing the transmission rates of those now out and about at work and returning to normal lives?

5. How long can the teachers unions persist in their “just say NO!” resistance, when their members will mostly soon be fully vaccinated, ignoring classroom students in need who are not likely to be infected, seriously sick, or easy spreaders of the disease, and operating in communities where the infection rates go down and most others are already at work (And I say that as a teacher, with one son and one son-in-law who are public school teachers, albeit as a grandfather of a special-needs 6-year-old who has suffered terribly and needlessly from the public schools lockdown).

6. As the virus subsides, what will the omnipresent, camera-addicted, and ubiquitous, Dr. Fauci do? 

AND FINALLY, AS WE LOOK BACK, we can add up four knowns: 

1) There is a level-4 virology lab in Wuhan. It is ground zero of the pandemic. There was gain-in-function viral research ongoing at the lab, a strong Chinese military presence, and a prior record of sloppy procedures. 

2) The Chinese government has corrupted WHO. Beijing denied access to its lab to international inspectors, while lying repeatedly about the date, origins and nature of the virus.

3) While the US has been threatened by prior scares of SARS-CoV-1, H1NI, West Nile, and avian flu, etc. and various pandemics—along with the rest of the world—never in recent memory has a virus appeared so suddenly and proved so infectious and so utterly disruptive. The more adamantly the Chinese communist government and American elites insist on a bat origin, the more adamantly they seek to stifle or ridicule those who legitimately inquire about the possibility of a leak and cover-up of a human-enhanced or even natural virus.

4) If information ever got out that COVID-19 was the result of a Chinese-engineered coronavirus, or even a captive natural virus, one that escaped its own labs and that such information was deliberately withheld from the world, as those infected left China on planes throughout the globe, the Chinese brand would be all but through for decades to come. 

I will let the reader decide whether the Chinese were terrified of the economic consequences of the escaped virus (whatever its origin, nature, or source) and so lied about its potential lethality, or shrugged once it escaped, “Better now everyone suffers rather than just us”, or at some point pivoted and concluded, “Well, it’s a tragedy, but at least it creates future deterrence:  no one will wish to confront us when there is always the chance of another accidental COVID-21 or  COVID 22-30 on the horizon.” All these hypotheticals, far-fetched and realistic, could easily be dispelled in a day by complete transparency, access to researchers, and opening of records. This the Chinese communist not just won’t, but can’t, do.

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About Victor Davis Hanson

Victor Davis Hanson is the Martin and Illie Anderson Senior Fellow in Residence in Classics and Military History at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, a professor of Classics Emeritus at California State University, Fresno, and a nationally syndicated columnist for Tribune Media Services. He is also the Wayne & Marcia Buske Distinguished Fellow in History, Hillsdale College, where he teaches each fall semester courses in military history and classical culture.

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