One Year Later

The pandemic has been around for one full year as of this week, so even though I have had very little time or reason to write in the meantime, it made sense to put together a short update on where we’re at from my standpoint.

This is the latest (slightly overdue) installment in my “pandemic saga”, which currently spans quite a few posts: It began after the start of the pandemic and has had irregular updates , , , , and days later.

Current Status

In the space of a few weeks after lessening restrictions around Christmas (which is now widely recognized as being one of the dumbest ideas ever, even though nobody in the government wants to own the responsibility to “look back”), Portugal moved from becoming one of the less afflicted countries to the where it regards dealing with the pandemic.

Little did we know at the time it would only get a lot worse during January and early February, until a proper lockdown started having the desired effect:

It's pretty obvious people became too relaxed around Christmas and New Eve.

…the downside, of course, is that entirely too many people died during this “learning period”:

Deaths peaked at roughly 300/day and have recently gone past 16K total, with nearly 10K since New Year's.

More to the point, our health system is still stressed well beyond nominal capacity, and is taking a long time to recover:

Even though there were major reinforcements, we still have 500 people in the ICU (nearly half the peak value).

All this data is available on my dashboard, which I’m still maintaining (although I’ve automated a few updates).

The Obvious Point To Be Made

Hard lockdowns work.

Period. New Zealand made that obvious, but our laissez-faire, consensus-based government was fundamentally unable to learn that lesson the easy way.

There is no wishy-washy, half-way point at which the government can both cater to economic pressure and prevent the collapse of the health system, nor any other way so they can have their cake and eat it too. We should have never loosened restrictions over Christmas, and ought to have gone into strict lockdown even before the November peak, let alone the blunders that were made early December.

This was pointed out before, during and after the current wave by a number of people (including some of the experts the government consulted, who have since discreetly distanced themselves from the proceedings).

And yet, the idiotic, selfish backlash against lockdown made the news time and again. The same restaurant made headlines by having dinner parties. The same people went out and about without nary a care in the world. Denialists of various kinds popped up here and there (and some were–finally–banned from social networks). There were various protests and demands for financial aid to small businesses, etc.

Yes, of course confinement was tough on businesses. But 16.000 people are dead, 10.000 of which in the past couple of months alone. And I still think that we barely missed having a much worse outbreak by closing down schools (belatedly, I should add). And yet there is already talk of re-opening them soon, and people are (again) taking to the streets because they think that with numbers visibly down, there is hardly anything to care about.

Vaccination

It’s the same mess as anywhere else (and the same mess regarding getting official data, but I won’t go down that rabbit hole again):

The chart on the right should probably be cumulative, but since recovery and inoculation are two different things I decided to plot everything separately.

So far, out of our entire family (including seniors, all of whom are eligible for vaccination in the first batches), only two got the first shot. That this is pretty dismal progress-wise is pretty obvious to anyone at this point, and I’m neither happy with the overall situation (never mind the supply constraints) nor with the policies or procedures adopted, which seem haphazard and inefficient.

Scaling this out to the population at large seems like a major challenge, and I have no illusions that the vaccine will afford full protection until (perhaps) the end of the year (excluding whatever mutations come about).

Other Stuff

I’ve been home for well over a year (pandemic or otherwise) and am still amazed that I haven’t completely burned out three or four times already in between the pandemic, work, and all the grating attrition that comes with having your life simultaneously “on hold” for this long and working ~12 hours a day.

I know I’m extraordinarily lucky to be able to not only work at all but also be able to do so in a context that is , but that does not make things any easier–I’m still yearning for a long break from everything, and the past few months I had a few tough moments.

The worse thing, I think, is being completely aware that this isn’t over yet (not by a long shot) while the population at large starts going out and about as if it was just a rain shower (never mind complaining about having too much free time).

Sometimes ignorance is, indeed, bliss.