We can see light at the end of the tunnel.
Vaccines are in the pipeline. We think Fall 2021 can look a lot more like 2019 than 2020.
We are going to go through the suck until a large number of people have either their shots or recover from infections.
A vaccine sitting in a warehouse or a doctor’s office is just a funny looking fluid. It is only valuable when it is in someone’s arm and priming an immune response.
We know that COVID response rates are heavily polarized on partisan lines. A recent article in Science showed that partisanship had a huge valance on behavior independent of actual risk levels:
Using daily data on the reported activities of 1,135,638 U.S. adults collected starting on April 4, 2020, we show that partisanship is 27 times more important than the local incidence of COVID-19 in explaining mobility. Moreover, all else equal, Democrats are 13.1 percent less likely to be socially mobile over time compared to independents, while Republicans are
27.8 percent more likely to be mobile.
We know that partisanship had significant premium effects in the ACA:
Insurers have increased marketplace premiums at higher rates in areas with more Republican voters. In the preferred model specification, a 10-percentage-point difference in Republican vote share is associated with a 3.2-percentage-point increase in average premium growth for a standard plan. A variety of robustness and placebo checks suggest the relationship is driven by partisanship.
We know partisanship has both real world consequences in behaviors that have both real individual and social costs. Partisanship allows people to outsource their thinking to trusted political leaders and opinion coalition merchants.
We know that we need, to use a technical term, a shit ton of people to get vaccinated. We want mass vaccination to happen as quickly as possible as the cost of additional suffering in a three month delay to go from 100 million people vaccinated to 200 million people vaccinated would be significant (the economic costs would be high too).
We know that a good chunk of those people who need to be vaccinated are currently getting their political and social cues from elites that have downplayed the entire coronavirus pandemic.
So when members of the elite political class who have been spewing out “plandemic”, “open-up”, “herd immunity”, “personal responsibility”, “let it rip”, “merely a flu” messaging for almost a year now get vaccinated on camera with a smile and a thumbs up, that is very important new information going to people who won’t listen to liberals or pointy-headed nerds. It is a message that vaccines are not bad, they might be good, and trusted elites trust them.
Roll your eyes privately, but I would rather be in a world with 80% or 90% vaccination rates driven by mass elite hypocrisy that allowed for a right wing permission structure to get vaccinated than a world of 50% vaccination rates and consistent messaging that keeps a good chunk of the US population suspicious of vaccines.