Conversations in America veer from the pandemic to a promising future. But America is often tone-deaf beyond its secure walls and cacophonous airwaves. Much of the world is in the throes of a massive third wave, worse than ever imagined.
I walk down my lovely town maskless, but this thing is not over. And I don’t just mean because it’s not over “over there.” It’s not over here and a witch’s brew out of India could fuse it up big time in Detroit.
There’s a lot to improve in America but jumping to conclusions is right up there at the top. If you’re reading this as an American who has lived through the pandemic, it’s likely your feelings of invincibility are bulging. Beware. It could all come tumbling down or maybe actually worse, America could become a bubble of safety in a world of horrors.
No one needs reminding about India, the vortex of human population. There is nothing in human biology unimpacted by India. But far more tranquil places like Kenya and far more similar places like South Africa are seeing the worst of the pandemic right now.
So in my global view it’s impossible to imagine this ending at all soon. In fact I’m starting to counter the idea that the Covid pandemic will never be eradicated, that Covid19 and its mutant iterations will become the world’s new malaria.
[Good news interruption: A new malaria vaccine is proving remarkably successful.]
So let’s suppose my worst fear: America, Canada, most of Europe and who knows maybe the Cayman Islands establish an environment near pre-pandemic normals. Really possible. Even likely before the end of this year.
Meanwhile India, most of Africa and elsewhere never depresses the flattened curve enough to stop a sort of static transmission and death, providing enough biology to foster mutants that start to become more and more onerous.
The CDC springs to action. Every March I get a Covid shot. Every September I get a flu shot. I’m protected.
I can walk down my lovely little Main Street sipping lattes but when I return to my vehicles and staff and friends and wildernesses of Africa I’ll be navigating in and out the same way I did when I was 25: carefully, laden with vaccinations and pills and sanitizers, careful about consuming raw vegetables and fruits and worst of all: necessarily turning a blind eye to the misery around me.
The hope I had that herd immunity could truly be achieved “naturally” seems far-fetched now. Pfizer, Moderna, J&J and even AstraZenca probably hold back most of the mutants, but natural antigens from having some version of the disease probably won’t.
Without the synthetic defense humankind seems doomed to the indefinite suffering this virus appears to have achieved.
Is this acceptable? I’m no native of the place in the world that I love the most, Africa. So is it acceptable? Either I force it to be acceptable or I deny my love.
The global battle is simple. Either every human creature on this planet becomes as important to you as your spouse or child, or we are forever to be separated, our energies focused on a struggle with every moment to widen the gulf between us.
In a global context some might try to argue economics but little bubble havens of cordoned off humanity like “North America” can probably do just fine on their own. No, this is a moral question.
Let’s see how humane humans really are.