Mask and vax. Or else.

That seems to be the sum total of government’s policy set on managing COVID in our society. Excepting those benighted red states (and some blue ones, I’m glad to report), which any right-thinking-leftist knows is being run by idiots and imbeciles.

Fortunately, those benighted locales do exist (and they’re doing just fine) to offer us countervailing evidence to the Feds’ mask-and-vax monomania. Not out of an anti-vaccine mindset, but rather an anti-mandate stance.

As or more fortunately, the feds aren’t the only ones “doing something” about the pandemic. Big Pharma is doing what it does, and we have near-to-hand some new treatments for those afflicted with the virus.

We currently have one FDA-authorized antiviral (Remdesivir), and one “emergency-use authorization” (EUA) treatment (monoclonal antibodies), available in the US. Both are administered intravenously, meaning that giving them is resource-intensive.

Near-to-hand are Paxlovid and Molnupiravir, both orally administered, both of which have shown such high effectiveness in reducing risk of hospitalization or death that their clinical trials were ended early and EUAs were submitted (Molnupiravir is already being used in the UK). Paxlovid was submitted for EUA a month ago, Molnupiravir more than two months ago.

The current seven-day moving average of daily COVID deaths is somewhere around 1100. This means that, in the last month alone, over thirty thousand people have died from this disease.

Why is the FDA dragging its feet on EUA for two pill-form treatments for COVID? How many lives are being lost to bureaucratic thumb-twiddling?

Given the administration’s obsession with mask and vaccine mandates, one might be tempted to conclude that it wants to do everything possible to reduce loss of life, but the sordid tale of ivermectin (and hydroxychloroquine, while we’re at it) suggests a different conclusion.

Our cultural apparatchiks have steadily denounced and denigrated those who’ve advocated treatments for COVID, especially when they are people who argued against either vaccine mandates or vaccinating itself (for the record, I strongly advocate getting vaccinated, at least if you’re an adult, but as-strongly denounce mandates), as if they applaud a “just deserts” outcome when someone of either group gets sick from the virus.

I’ve heard the argument – If you don’t get vaccinated, and you get hospital-sick, you take up a bed that could be used by someone else. And, to a degree, I get the sentiment. As I noted, I believe adults, and especially anybody who’s got any comorbidity (including being overweight), should get the shot, but I steadfastly reject mandates to that effect (as both counterproductive and anathema to liberty) and believe in Andrew Sullivan’s Let It Rip sentiment: the government has done its job in making vaccines available to us, and now it’s time to recognize people’s right to self-determination.

As for treatment, its prioritization and “just deserts?” Does anyone who thinks this way apply the same logic to overweight patients? To smokers? To Type-2 diabetics? To those who haven’t been taken their medications? Would any hospital refuse treatment to a measles or mumps or whooping cough or diphtheria patient?

The pandemic has exposed a truly ugly side of politics: the elevation of coercion over compassion. No regard is given, other than a pile of (horribly managed) handouts, for the massive business disruptions caused by the continued lockdowns. Nor for the broader disruption of the economy, especially for those least able to weather it. Yes, the government printed obscene piles of money, but its (understandable at the time) overreaction taught it nothing, as evinced by the continued obsession with masks-and-jabs in some states even as others are doing comparably well (or better) without such mandates.

As knowledge and science improve, so should policy. Mask mandates are losing their scientific footing with each passing week, especially in some settings. We’ve already got evidence that restaurant contact produces a very small fraction of COVID infections, that outdoor transmission is virtually nil, and that masking provides only limited benefit in many other situations, yet our government obsesses over masks while foot-dragging treatment approvals.

While government is the poster child for dissonance, hypocrisy, left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing, illogic, redundancy, and persistence despite the facts, not everything is the result of dysfunction. There are people at the top making decisions, and we can read tenor, intent, and priorities in those decisions.

What do I read in those tea leaves? That our leaders (forget the premise of “public servants” – they certainly act more like bosses than representatives) are in a giant, petulant snit over the failure of those they serve (i.e. we the citizens of the United States of America) to simply obey. To do as we’re told.

It’s pretty clear that many fear that the availability of a pill to treat the disease will stall their vaccination efforts. While this may indeed be the case, vaccine hesitancy is the government’s fault above all else. Politicians and “experts” were the ones who first politicized the pandemic, and prompted the rift between Red and Blue that now plagues us on this matter.

We can play the “two types of…” game here, to great insight. We have two types of citizens – those who demand others be compelled to certain actions and behaviors (including the injection of medicine into their persons), and those who don’t. I expect a strong correlation with the “two types of…” application to respect for the Constitution and its limits on government – though, oddly enough, the coercers are, I bet, far more likely to be of the “my body, my choice!” mindset when it comes to abortion rights.

The pandemic has offered coercers all sorts of opportunity to do what appears to come naturally to them, under the blanket justification of “for your own good, and if not for your’s, then for others’.” The lack of urgency, and more so the callous attitude towards the sick (especially the unvaccinated sick), suggests that coercion is more important to them than compassion, no matter their protestations that they are the carers for the poor and the oppressed.

Of course, that standard of care is filtered through a political litmus test. If you are not of the correct tribe, your well-being is irrelevant (or worse) to them. As is your liberty.

Peter Venetoklis

About Peter Venetoklis

I am twice-retired, a former rocket engineer and a former small business owner. At the very least, it makes for interesting party conversation. I'm also a life-long libertarian, I engage in an expanse of entertainments, and I squabble for sport.

Nowadays, I spend a good bit of my time arguing politics and editing this website.

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