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Legitimizing irrational anxiety is bad medicine
Healthy middle age people carrying CO2 monitors need frank advice to stop
Medicine has always drawn a distinction between appropriate and inappropriate emotions. If someone experiences sadness, loss of appetite, and lack of desire to get out of bed, it is relevant if they just lost a spouse versus if this is simply Wednesday.
Similarly, if you take appropriate precautions when you climb Half Dome you are being reasonable, but if you refuse to climb 12 stairs out of fear of heights, you are not, and you might benefit from mental health care.
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It's time for medical professionals to advise young, middle age, healthy people to throw away your n95, leave your C02 monitor at home and get back to life. These are not proportionate responses. You are not acting reasonably. Someone needs to tell you.
Anyone who plans on being around for the next decade has only two things guaranteed: You will definitely get Covid19 and you will definitely pay taxes.
As of Sept 2022, everyone in America has had plenty of opportunity to be vaccinated if they wish. Among those who haven't, rates of COVID-19 are sky high. Most have had and recovered from the virus, making their risk from reinfection low. Even those who've been vaccinated suffered breakthrough at astonishing rates. Finally, the virus itself has drifted towards less lethality.
The IFR for Covid19 is now less than flu. Fear of long COVID is irrational. In so far as it exists, you have to accept it. In so far as it is overblown, you can ignore it. There is no good evidence boosters or Paxlovid or anything changes it. That evidence would require a clear consistent and reproducible definition. Good luck with that.
Over the next few years, COVID-19 will engulf everyone on Earth. Over the next few decades, it will engulf everyone many times over.
Given: you're eventually going to get Covid19 and it's less dangerous than flu, you should take all the same precautions you used to take for flu, but no more.
You definitely washed your hands in the winter back in 2019, and you should do that now. At the same time you don't have to be excessive about it. You can do it like you did before, reasonably.
You know what you didn't do. You didn't carry a CO2 monitor around and have a heart attack if it goes to 1800 PPM or whatever the hell scale it uses. In fact, if you even know the scale, you might benefit to talking to someone. Twitter fills with paranoid images like this.
Pre-covid, you didn't wear a n95 mask when you went to the grocery store. Clutching it tight if you heard someone cough. You don’t need to do that now.
You didn't stuff a child's face into a counterfeit, untested n95 mask. If you didn't do it then, you shouldn't do that today. You didn’t let mid-level school officials make up masking rules (4 days after a 3 day break— just cuz), and we should not do that now. (It has no good evidence)
You would never shield your face from an infant in daycare, for hour after hour, day after day. Doing that now is deranged. The potential downside far exceeds any potential upside.
You didn't complain that your employer was trying to encourage people to show up to work, so they can justify paying them. Don't do that now. It seem unreal that professors, who have been handsomely paid and never asked to take risk pre-vax, are refusing to work post-vax—- refusing to work in 2022. Will they refuse to work in 2030? The virus isn’t going anywhere.
It also lacks perspective. Pre covid your employer asked you to drive to work (or bike)— that was risk you accepted to keep the job. The employer made you take the risk of flu in order to teach. The risk here is not different at all. It is not ‘hellaciously unsafe’ it is just called life.
Pre-covid, you were willing to eat food with friends and colleagues inside. You should do that now.
The CDC has done you a disservice. It has enabled people to act irrationally by pushing Paxlovid in people in whom it was not studied. It encouraged people to mask without ever generating data if the community recommendation worked, and worse: long after it made sense. It recently encouraged healthy 20 year olds to wear an n95— that is frankly bad advice. Any covid benefit dwarfed by the downsides of making a 20 year old think they are vulnerable and weak. The CDC may be doing this for political rather than medical reasons. It caters to the most irrational pole of one political party. Alternatively, the agency is filled with work from home people— who themselves could benefit from frank advice.
Some may disagree with my prescription: If you do, you should articulate the reason. Do you really think you can avoid COVID-19 indefinitely? Are you going to carrying a CO2 monitor in 2025? How long will you continue this? Do you think it's possible you're acting irrationally?
At this moment in time, COVID19 is not a risk big enough to most people to justify behaving differently than you did pre-covid. When I see a healthy 20 year old wearing an n95 mask outside, I feel pity for them. They are the victim of irrational messaging, virtual signaling, tribalism, and possibly also fear and anxiety. We should encourage them to live normally, and relax.
Looking down at your Co2 monitor and snapping photos for twitter is no way to live. You need some frank advice: it’s time to stop, for your own sake and those around you.
You can also follow me on my substack: Vinay Prasad’s Observations and Thoughts