The Mutations of COVID are many, varied, ever-changing and eternal. Fighting them is like fighting a many-headed monster, which, each time a neck is severed, sprouts a head even fiercer and cleverer than before.You are fighting that which is unfixed, mutating, indestructible….
Your defences…must therefore be as flexible and inventive as the Mutations you seek to undo.
(With apologies to J.K. Rowling, whose description of the Dark Arts I have just put to my own use.)
So, how is our battle with the wretched pandemic progressing?
The latest “Public Service Announcement” to flood the airwaves here in Israel, is one urging everyone who had their second dose of the vaccine at least three months ago, to hurry up and have a third shot (hereinafter: the First Booster).
Remember that they first told us that the double Pfizer shot which was rolled out in December 2020 would protect us for 6 months. Then they said it was probably effective for a whole year. Then they backtracked and said its efficacy began to wane after four or five months unless backed up with a booster. And now, they say we need the First Booster after only three months and are already pushing a Second Booster for over-60s and people in high risk categories. So the period between shots is getting shorter and shorter, just as I predicted months ago. At this rate, we’ll be having boosters at monthly intervals – or even more frequently.
As for the Second Booster – it doesn’t seem to matter to our Government that the EU’s drug regulator, the EMA not only does not support the administering of a fourth dose as a general policy, but has actually warned that frequent doses of the vaccine at short intervals might even weaken the body’s immune response.
Another “oddity” (for want of a better word) in the Government’s handling of the crisis relates to the problem of testing large numbers of people for the virus. Because of an overload on the PCR testing centres, they decided to prioritise the testing of the elderly and people at high risk at these centres, and allow all the rest (as long as they are vaccinated) to make do with home antigen-testing kits.
Dr. Sharon Alroy-Preis, head of Public Health Services at the Israeli Ministry of Health, is on record as saying that the antigen tests are “less sensitive” (ie. less accurate) than PCR tests and that people should therefore take more than one test or else wait at least three days after exposure to the virus before taking the test. In a radio interview, I heard her say that tests taken using home kits during the first couple of days after exposure were only 50% accurate compared to at least 80% after three days. In other words, if you take the test too early, there’s a 50:50 chance it will be inaccurate. And that is most likely to be a false negative. So people using it might think they are virus-free and go out and infect others.
The Health Ministry also advised using these home-testing kits to swab the throat as well as the nose – even though they are designed for nose swabs only and even though using them other than as instructed by the manufacturers could prove dangerous!
A Facebook contact of mine (actually a family member) has frequently hinted that people who ask too many questions (as he thinks I do) are closet conspiracy theorists. It’s easier for him to believe that those in power have our best interests at heart and actually know what they are doing.
As I have said before, I do not believe in any of the weirder theories such as the one that holds the vaccine can change your sexual preferences and turn heterosexuals gay, or that they contain microscopic tracking devices. I do think some people are making money out of the pandemic (for example, the price of home testing kits – when available at all – has shot up) but on the whole, I agree with Napoleon (or possibly Hanlon): never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.
One final note – a more positive one, I hope. Next Monday is Tu b’Shvat – the New Year for the Trees. Although the Spring Equinox is still more than two months away, Tu b’Shvat is seen as the harbinger of spring and is celebrated with tree plantings and as a celebration of nature. And so it was that, right on time, one of the potted plants on my front porch, which I had feared lost forever, has returned to life again and the succulent on my living-room windowsill has come into flower.
It’s odd how little things like this can cheer me up when I’m feeling down.
I hope they do the same for you 🙂 .