And now we've given up

Eradication of COVID-19 not to be expected in US. I’m not sure if this is paywalled, if it is, let me know and I’ll snip more.

“We as a country are willing to tolerate a certain level of risk and still go about a normal level of life,” said Dr. Aaron Carroll, a pediatrician and professor of pediatrics at Indiana University School of Medicine. “It’s becoming clear that that’s likely what we’re going to have to do with COVID. We’re going to have to learn to live with it.”

It looks like the Covidiots have won.

If it’s any consolation, eradication in just the US was never really an option. The only options are worldwide eradication or COVID-19 becoming a permanent thing. Even if every last American was vaccinated, the virus would still come back from somewhere else in the world.

Eradication was never the plan in the US.

Remembering way back to March 2020, the whole point of stay-at-home orders, masks, etc. was to prevent hospital systems from being overrun. “Flattening the curve” was meant to spread infections out over time instead of one big spike. A successfully “flattened curve” was still expected to have a long right tail.

Yeah, here’s an article from nealy a year ago:
Dr. Anthony Fauci warns the coronavirus won’t ever be eradicated

Once the vaccines get full FDA approval I assume they’ll just slip it in the yearly flu vaccines.

Everyone keeps saying we never planned to try and eradicate COVID-19, but that does not align with what I remember. We were constantly talking about herd immunity, which is the point at which a disease stops increasing it spread, and thus will eventually die out.

I know that actually eradicating it worldwide would be hard, so there would need to be monitored to not let it come back in after immunity waned, with possible hotspots to get vaccinated.

But I definitely remember there being hope that, once there was a vaccine, enough people would get it that we’d get to herd immunity levels in the US. The businesses would want it so badly that economic pressure would overwhelm the political nonsense. Plus having your supporters dying on you would enough to weaken even the political fight.

So, to me, it also feels like “they just gave up,” and that we’re trying to console ourselves. I’m not saying that’s factually accurate, but it’s how it feels to me.

The only disease we ever eradicated was smallpox. It was never a reasonable expectation that COVID-19 would be eliminated.

Herd immunity results in a pathogen dwindling away. It usually doesn’t result in it dwindling all the way to nothing. For comparison, we’ve had herd immunity to measles for all of recorded history, and we’ve also had measles for all of recorded history.

We can hope that “they” don’t “just slip it in the yearly flu vaccines”; on a good year vaccine utilization of flu vaccines might break 30% even when there is a global influenza pandemic brewing.

And rinderpest, and we were a hair’s breadth away from eradicating poliomyelitis until religious fundamentalists whipped up a fury about vaccination being a CIA plot which the US of course obliged by actually using the vaccination campaign as a cover.

Regardless, given the propensity for SARS-CoV-2 to reside in multiple mammalian hosts, it seems unlikely that it is ever going to be completely eradicated, and the best we can really hope for is a particularly infectious version that has only very mild effects, in essence naturally inoculating the population against more virulent versions. Immunity from vaccination is actually really effective (particularly for a rapidly developed first generation vaccine) and immunity appears robust in many people many months out but we’re still seeing signs of waning immunity in some people–particularly the elderly and immunocompromised individuals–and breakthrough infections in low double digit percentage of the population, so the virus isn’t going to disappear. But we’ve never achieved herd immunity with chicken pox, and more half the world’s population is infected with herpes simplex (HSV-1 or -2), and civilization continues to move on, because while these diseases aren’t inconsequential, they are manageable through vaccination and therapeutics.

It is frustrating that so many people refuse vaccines that are available to them, often not even out of any misguided principled objection but just because they want to “see how things pan out”, but then, nobody ever made money betting on the rationality of humanity. To reject a prophylactic treatment that people worked tirelessly to develop at a cost of many billions of dollars feels like yet another step toward Idiocracy but it’s really just a drop in the bucket compared to all of the other stupid and illogical things people say and do.


I am disappointed, I thought this was being treated like smallpox, and would be eradicated. At least I can stop blaming hubs for this.

“They” will possibly add it to the yearly vaccine (or do it periodically) because that’s the best we can do. If a pandemic that killed > 600k over ~16 months doesn’t spur people to get the vaccine then not much will. The yearly vaccine helps protect the vulnerable who are willing to take it.

I suppose that once the vaccines pass FDA approval that they can be required for jobs and public school but given how political COVID has become (thanks Trump!) that there’s no way it will become common.

First of all, there isn’t one flu vaccines; there are a number of separate vaccines given depending on patient age, pre-existing conditions, et cetera. Second, except in cases of childhood vaccinations, vaccines are not generally “added” to one another because of the regulatory hurdles. Third, even as tepid as acceptance of the SARS-CoV-2 vaccine has been by the general public it has still well exceeded the public enthusiasm for the seasonal influenza vaccine, so combining them would make little sense except perhaps to boost acceptance of the flu vaccine, and could even have a contrary effect.

The legal question of how widely private companies or government departments can mandate vaccinations is in question. Getting full FDA approval will bolster that case for the Department of Defense but we haven’t actually had a case of mandatory vaccination of the general public since early last century, and while states have a vested interest in the protection of public health (e.g. public health departments, fluoridating drinking water, et cetera), actually forcing adults to get vaccinated will certainly result in a lot of legal challenges that many courts may be unwilling to weigh in on.


Re: smallpox. Smallpox is a special case as it has no non-human reservoirs. Once all the cases vanished, it was gone (except for a few we keep in a freezer). We can’t be sure SARS-CoV-2 is gone until we find the animal host, whenever that will be.

The fatality rate of those who contracted smallpox was 30%, higher in young children. There was an intense worldwide effort required to eradicate smallpox. As dangerous as covid is, it doesn’t approach that. Also, because it can be spread by asymptomatic people, I would think (I have no expertise in this field) that the population vaccination rate would have to be very high to even control it, much less eradicate it. We are struggling to get to 50% in the U.S. You would have to have worldwide government enforcement of vaccination requirements. From how I see the whole thing has been politicized in the U.S. that just isn’t going to happen here.

Smallpox took over 180 years to eradicate. Anti-vaxxers were one reason why. We tend to think we’ve come a long way and that everybody is enlightened and understands science now, but the reality is that the ignorant are still all around us and are as recalcitrant and as easily manipulated by the forces of evil as ever.

OP, I’m sorry your husband is so hard to reason with. Hopefully he has many stellar qualities that offset the unscientific mindset.

That percentage of breakthrough infections sounds off. What numbers are you thinking of?

Yes, I know all that. I just disagree with your conclusion.

The government could get a lot more forceful back in the day when administering vaccines (or the equivalent).

This sort of thread is why I hope there’s a real post mortem in how the government(s) communicated about this all along. There was “two weeks to flatten the curve.” There was the inconsistent (and now apparently somewhat wrong) messaging on masks, mask materials, and so on. There was how the vaccination rollout occurred (including state websites and the like for actually getting it) and whether the priority list was correct and absolute.

Then there was the response by the public. The anti-anything crowd. Some opinions I saw online that we all should have been forcibly confined to our homes for several weeks while the National Guard dropped off rations or something. The large amount of us who muddled through, dealing with our own individual issues and doing the best we could despite constantly changing rules and conflicting guidance.

Clearly the end point was to get back to normal. But what counts as normal? Some seem to think that it’s the complete eradication of the virus. I’m of the opinion it’s when everyone who wants a shot can and ideally has gotten one, and that includes ages 2 to 11. After that, assuming the number of deaths stays around the historical flu death average, I’m happy. But I still have no idea what the government is considering normal.

To be fair, only some of that is from the nature of the various diseases themselves. Polio and measles would likely be on the list as well if it wasn’t for people refusing the vaccine. COVID-19 likely falls in the category of diseases that can be eradicated but won’t because not enough people will be vaccinated.