Tear down all the plexiglass
by Vinay Prasad | July 17, 2022
It’s abundantly clear that plexiglass served no purpose during the COVID-19 pandemic. In most cases it was merely useless. In some cases, it created stagnant pockets of air and may have accelerated transmission. It’s a highly visible marker of how irrational we were. Not that we tried things. But that we didn’t make a concerted effort to figure out what works. And we didn’t take down things when they proved they were failures.
I still see plexiglass. At the gym. In some restaurants. At bars. It’s time to tear down all that plexiglass. It’s a lasting reminder of how stupid we were, and still are.
Plexiglass isn’t the only thing that we need to get rid of…
We need to actively discourage healthy people from wearing a mask. The mask is a visible symbol that reminds a healthy person to be irrational. A healthy person who’s been vaccinated, or had infection, can’t do anything more. They can wear n95 masks intermittently but they have to take them off to eat. They will eventually get the virus. They will mostly do okay. Telling them to wear the mask every time the map goes red, just makes them more deranged, just fuels anxiety. It turns people into the subject of my last post. Fuming at the world for getting a scratchy throat.
If COVID-19 presented in 2022, and had the IFR it currently has. In other words, if COVID-19 was what it looks like today—With high rates of pre-existing immunity, and high rates of vaccination; if we had the same hospitalizations, and case fatalities that we do today, and for the sake of argument, let’s say kids are exactly in the same situation—I’m pretty confident that we would not have even discovered the virus.
It would have fallen into the backdrop of incidental respiratory carriage. There are very few cases of pneumonia that would have prompted suspicion. But even if we were to have made the diagnosis of a new coronavirus, you would never have justified, masking, perpetual boosting, closing schools, testing, asymptomatic people quarantining and the like. The policy response would have been very similar to how it has been for flu throughout my entire life. There might have been some push to develop a vaccine, and it’s uptake would have been poor. Just like the current fate for kids.
No one in their right mind would have stopped any activities for children. That would have been delusional.
The thought experiment highlights further areas that need improvement in 2022. It highlights how wedded we are to the past, and how unable we are to reassess the situation in light of new information.
It’s time to tear down the plexiglass and everything else that makes us irrational and stupid.
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