Keep in mind I am a SME on this topic, and in the top 1% in the nation as voted on by my peers. I say this not to be arrogant or avoid a counter argument or to say anyone is wrong because I'm an "expert", but to stress that I spent 17 years in the field. My replies are not based on stuff flying around social media or the biased media or so-called "news" outlets (e.g., ABC, NBC, Fox, CNN, etc). They are based on my experience and knowledge accumulated over those years studying viruses, social dimensions of a disaster, pharmaceutical intervention and continuity management. There is no hidden agenda outside of providing the honest facts. And this post isn't just a reply to LordOpie; it's for everyone in this thread.
If society had let the virus burn out to begin with, we wouldn't have mutations.
It would never burn out unless caught within the first 24 hours, and those exposed were placed in quarantine immediately. Even then, I doubt it would. For a virus to "burn out" requires a certain set of attributes. One of those is how infection occurs. Respiratory viruses are quite difficult to control given the nature of transmission. One infected person can expose hundreds simply by walking through a mall. However, a virus like Ebola can "burn out" because of its transmission method. It primarily passes through infected body fluids. This makes it harder to infect larger populations. The reason you see it hit so hard in Africa has to do with the sanitation infrastructure, wastewater infrastructure, and how bodies are handled after they expire. In a first world country, Ebola would have a difficult time spreading around.
This virus is one that becomes endemic within a population. As many are aware, this is a coronavirus. And coronavirus is one of five viruses that cause the common cold along with the rhinovirus, respiratory syncytial virus, influenza and parainfluenza. We use the term "flu" colloquially because most of the colds we get hit with come from influenza. The reason why we have seasonal flu / seasonal flu shots is the same reason we see COVID-19 spawning off all these variants. Each year, the flu mutates a lot. It is a sloppy replicator and can make thousands of strains within a single season. And health officials have to guess which strain will become the dominant strains for the upcoming flu season. These strains are what is used in our flu shots.
How they do this is relatively simple. During the spring and summer months in the Northern Hemisphere, officials monitor the fall and winter flu in the Southern Hemisphere. They pick the dominant strains, and big spam uses them in the seasonal flu shot. Coronaviruses aren't as sloppy when they mutate. So we see a few different variants. The media, social media, and the average person see these variants and think the worst of it. Here's the thing, once a virus is established in a population, it can become more contagious but rarely becomes more deadly. But keep in mind that is not a hard rule. However, I am somewhat confident that IS the case with this pandemic. So, in my professional opinion, SARs-CoV-2 is now, and forever, part of our society (endemic). It will be just like the flu. Constantly circulating, mutating and requiring seasonal vaccinations.
Children weren't at risk to begin with but now they are.
Children were always at risk. The initial wave of the pandemic showed that children under the age of 18 made up 8.5% to 9.5% of the cases (depending on the source you check). While there were fewer deaths and more mild cases compared to other age groups, keep in mind that there are far less people on this planet under the age of 18 than over the age of 18. There is a significantly larger population of people infected in the over 18 range which means larger percentages of people coming down with the disease. So, on the surface it looks like kids are less affected by it, that's not really the case. There are many reasons why we are seeing these spikes in children now. I need to call out that I do not know all of them. But what I do know I will share. The primary reason is that during the initial first wave, everyone was home. This limited the circulation of the virus. Adults had a very low chance of bringing it home. As things open back up, we started to see a slight increase in cases across all age groups. It wasn't as severe because people (for the most part) continued with social distancing and wearing masks. Once the vaccines hit and people started getting them, social distancing and mask wearing plummeted, and once in-school classes started last spring, we saw spikes in the disease. This is because of many factors. For one, adults who never received a vaccine, didn't social distance or wear a mask, and/or lied about being vaccinated contracted and brought it home to kids who then went to school and spread it. Now, with 80% of the adult population receiving at least one shot, the virus, much like water, will flow to the lowest point (the path of least resistance) - unvaccinated kids. This is the nature of an infectious agent.
To clear up some misconceptions:
You can still become infected after receiving the vaccine, or re-infected after already having it. The vaccine is meant to mitigate against severe disease presentation from the vanilla SARs-CoV-2 virus and has the ability to prevent it from taking hold in one's body. Today, if you are exposed to the Polio virus you wouldn't have a chance of spreading it because the virus replication is static. It doesn't really mutate. Therefore the Polio vaccine is pretty ironclad. However, as mentioned above, the coronavirus is somewhat sloppy (though, not nearly as bad as influenza) so it will constantly mutate. You will have some protection from the variants but it will take the body a little long to get it. So you can spread it. Bottom line, the vaccines work, are needed, and should be taken. More on that in a bit.
Masks. The standard argument is that masks don't protect a person from the virus. Here's the thing, masks aren't designed to prevent one from catching the virus. Unless you are in a bio-level 4 protection suit, you can still catch the virus through a mask. The issue (I have) is how the anti-mask news media / social media present the argument. Masks are a mitigation, not a preventative measure. If I remember correctly, an unmasked person has a 15% higher chance of contracting the disease. That's pretty significant. Masks are part of an overall systemic approach to reducing one's odds of contracting the virus when added to social distancing, washing hands and getting the vaccine. Masks serve two purposes - 1. Limit the chance for exposure, and 2. Limit someone from spreading it by blocking respiratory droplets entering the air. The virus primarily travels in respiratory droplets. Even store bought or home-made cloth masks do very well against these droplets. So the argument that a virus can easily slip through the gaps in the fibers is not exactly true. The virus by itself, yes. Even then, atomic attraction will pull most of the virions into the fiber. However, the virus doesn't travel through the air by itself. It needs the droplets to do that. Keep in mind I'm only speaking on how it travels through the air since I'm making a point on masks. It can still be caught from surfaces. People who say their freedom is being taken away are flat out wrong. This is a public health crisis and not some debate on constitutional law. The government cannot enforce masks ubiquitously; however, they can when it comes to the government's domain.
The vaccines. Oh boy, here we go, right? I'm only going to speak on the two mRNA vaccines since they have the most inaccurate "news" around them. These are not some new vaccines that haven't been tested in the way everyone who is opposed to them may think. The mRNA technology has been around since the 1980s. This technology uses synthetic mRNA that enters our cells, and instructs these cells to produce a protein. This is normal cellular function. The mRNA leaves our systems within 24 hours. It does NOT alter our genetic make-up. Once it leaves our systems, our cells stop producing the protein assigned to it. The only thing that was new to them was the synthetic mRNA that was built to produce the spike protein on the virus. In 2010, BioNTech, Pfizer and Moderna began working on mRNA based treatments. When the pandemic hit, all they needed to do was pivot from the existing synthetic mRNA they were testing to the COVID-19 one. This is why it seemed to develop so fast. But in reality, this is 30 years in the making. That being said, these vaccines are the first to be successful. The mRNA technology has been successfully used in other biotech applications other than vaccines. All vaccines, medical procedures, surgeries, etc carry risk with them. None are 100% safe. As far as these go, my professional and personal opinion is that these are safe. There will always be a small percentage that experience negative effects. So using those numbers to push an agenda that the vaccines are dangerous is, at a minimum, disingenuous. I say all of this as someone who did have an adverse reaction related to the Moderna vaccine.
After I received my second shot on April 3, 2021, I was rushed to the ER roughly 8 hours later. My heart went into afib. The top half of my heart was beating rapidly (200 times a minute) while the bottom half was just quivering as it tried to catch up. It was a strange and disturbing sensation to say the least but it didn't hurt. I could feel it in my chest and stomach. Not enough blood was circulating in my body so I kept fainting. After an hour in the ER my heart reverted to normal rhythm. They released me and I made an appointment with a cardiologist. He is now part of my normal doctor visits. As time ticks by, I experience it less and less but still need to remain on blood thinners to prevent strokes. Apparently, blood can pool in the chambers of the heart and begin clotting while in afib. Once normal rhythm returns, the heart can eject the blood clots causing strokes or pulmonary embolism. Turns out, the vaccine itself didn't do this. The vaccine had put a strain on my system after the first shot. And I do remember having a few instances at night of my heart racing while trying to sleep. Once the second shot hit my system, it placed more stress on my system. Turns out, I have (since birth) defects with all of my valves, and because I have high blood pressure (that is treated btw), my left ventricle is slightly larger and the chamber walls thicker. Both of these heart problems combined with the strain on my system triggered the severe afib. My cardiologist believes I've had afib issues for a while now, but because they were mild in presentation I didn't feel or notice them. But the vaccine helped identify these issues. So now, I'm scheduled for an ablation later on this month to prevent future episodes of afib, and we will talk about when I need open heart surgery for the valves. After all of that, I still champion these vaccines. My girlfriend works for one of the two companies making the mRNA. She has taught me so much about Big spam. I'm less cynical about them.