My final day in iso!

With the mandatory negative tests and two weeks without a symptom, I’m ready to work again! Anyone who says isolation is “easy” for introverts obviously hasn’t done it. Maybe easier than for extroverts, but by no means was it all beer and skittles.

I did, admittedly, drink a lot of beer.

It was also a good test.

I’m full vaccinated, have been since May. I was wearing no other personal protective equipment bar a KN95 mask at the time of my close-contact. I was in the positive’s unmasked presence for about three hours. The only other thing I probably did (can’t recall, but assuming) was wash my hands afterwards.

Going back to work, this scenario could easily repeat itself.

Maybe on my first day! I may be in isolation multiple times, segregated from my family, looking forward to them shoving that thing up my nose again. Waiting for results. Because no matter how supportive people are, you do it alone.

Nobody has come out and said it directly, but our political masters are hurriedly shifting the conversation away from zero-COVID, herd immunity, away even from infection rates and deaths.

The carrot-and-stick game is now all about ‘learning to live with COVID’ and the privileges the fully-vaccinated will enjoy.

But as the US and Israel and other countries are slowly realising, SARS-CoV-2 is going nowhere. 2019-20 was just the virus limbering up. 2020 was the first round, and I don’t know if you noticed, but we were just handed our asses by Delta. When it tags-out, what steps into the ring next?

The US government (and others) use a variant classification scheme split into three classes:
Variant of Interest > Variant of Concern > Variant of High Consequence. So far no variant — not even Delta — has been classified ‘high consequence’ in the US despite their appalling numbers:

What will the virus do next?

An article in Science quotes Aris Katzourakis, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Oxford, who fears “the most tumultuous period in SARS-CoV-2’s evolution may still be ahead of us.”

Andrew Read, evolutionary biologist at Pennsylvania State University, concurs: “I think there’s every expectation that this virus will continue to adapt to humans and will get better and better at us.”

Better at us?

That means sidestepping vaccinations, becoming more deadly or more infectious, or evading our immune response altogether. In just twelve months, there have been three ‘variants of concern’ — hospitalisations from Delta are double that of Alpha.

Between 1918 and 1919 the Spanish Flu mutated into a variant that was 600% more lethal, and we all know how that story ended.

I always look at the graph above and wonder if we’re just at July-August, and if these ‘waves’ we’ve experienced with COVID are just that — waves, compared to the COVID megatsunami to come.

Confidence has ebbed in scientific circles. Nobody is stepping up to announce we’ve got this thing beat. If anything, it’s more and more news to the contrary. You don’t need to go down the rabbit hole or join Parler or some doomsday-fantasist subreddit, you just have to read the news.

If Delta is about to tag-team in something that’s bigger and badder and better at us, then I’m not sure we’re ready. Which is maybe why stepping back into the world after being “safe” for fourteen days fills me with trepidation.

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