The New COVID Response: Accommodation

Preface: This is Not Research

Just a note for those looking for information on COVID on the internet. If you read this article, you are not doing research. The information I give here is second hand at best and has been filtered through my research choices and my opinions. Instead, you should call this “presearch.” I’m pointing you in the direction of ideas you might want to research. And you do that by Google Search. You don’t go to anything somebody on social media recommends. You especially don’t go to something your social media provider suggests for you, based on your previous search history. No. You go to your browser and type, “Are rapid COVID tests accurate?” or some such question, and check the URLs of the pages that are suggested to see who you’re reading.

Walking Backwards with Eyes Firmly Closed

Our present approach to the war against COVID isn’t working. Once again, governments are responding to the new virus with methods that didn’t work properly against the old ones. And not applying them as strictly, because people are so tired of them.

The Omicron version is spreading more rapidly than our resources can handle. Everything has switched 180 degrees. Instead of closing businesses to keep people from getting sick, there are now too many employees sick to allow businesses to function. Airlines are cancelling flights because they have too many people on quarantine to staff the planes. Medical facilities are keeping those with minor symptoms working, restricting them to contact with COVID patients. The sick tending the sick.

Triage: The Order of the Day

Sooner or later, we will need another approach. Instead of fighting the spread, we need to accommodate it. We need to concentrate on finding ways to keep our economy running, despite the large numbers of people getting mild cases of the disease. We also have to focus on protecting the vulnerable.

The medical system is already exhorting us not to overwhelm the testing centres, to save the tests for those who really need them. In other words, the first concession to the situation is that we are now responsible for deciding if we have the disease. This is problematic. Of the five members of my family who have exhibited symptoms, only two tested positive. The other three had common colds.

The only bright light is that Omicron seems to run through the human system in a mere 5 days. The quarantine period has already dropped from ten to seven days. As this week has progressed, many administrations have been dropping their period to five days to get more people back to work.

Once again, we’re holding on until science saves us. The pills to treat the disease (not prevent it or cure it) are already developed, and in the testing process. Reminds me of a year ago, when we were desperately waiting for the first vaccines.

“Two out of Three PCR Tests Are Positive”

Once again last night on the CTV news, the anchor was discussing the virility of Omicron and he quoted that statistic. What does that mean? It’s not a measure of the power of the virus. It just means that two thirds of people who think they have the disease actually have it. It means that if we are required to self-diagnose, then one out of three people staying home from work will be wasting their efforts. Even the 15-20% false negatives of the quickie self-administered tests are better than that. For those of you that remember fractions, that’s 10 out of 30 in error with no test, and 4.5 to 6 out of 30 with the quickie test. Which makes a quickie test about twice as good as the “I don’t feel good” test.

Add to this the increased likelihood of people taking a test if it’s convenient. If you have serious symptoms, standing in line for a PCR test is not your first choice for a recuperation plan.

What’s Wrong with the Quick Tests?

Nothing. The vibe I’m picking up from the info available is that the reason the quickie tests are less accurate is not a fault in the tests; it all depends on exactly when during the course of the disease you have the test. In other words, if the test is wrong, it’s not because the test was faulty; it’s because you took it at the wrong time, usually before the virus had time to take hold and make you contagious. The answer to that is to take more than one test. Once again, the solution is to make quick tests more available. Which many jurisdictions are doing.

The Bottom Line

Average citizens should keep up the social preventions we have been performing: masks, distancing, no big gatherings. Those methods have worked to minimize the effect of plagues for centuries. If you feel sick, self-diagnose and quarantine for 5 days or until the symptoms go away. Get tested however and whenever you can.

Governments need to focus on protecting the vulnerable. Children under 5, elderly, immune compromised etc. I don’t know who else, and I don’t know how they should be doing it, so I’m not commenting. Just do it, please. And get the rest of us quickie tests as cheaply and as quickly as possible.

I know it sounds like we’ve given up, but that’s the nature of war. You have to know when to cut your losses and retrench. It’s a new year and we need a new approach in order to make it a happy one.


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