Vaccinations were supposed To end our nightmare and enjoy 2021.”freedom summer. But when the season ended with some of the highest numbers of cases and deaths to date, I knew it was time to talk to Larry Brilliant again. Brilliant is CEO of Pandefense alert He is a senior advisor to the Skoll Foundation, and was part of the global team that helped eradicate smallpox. We’ve had many talks About Covid in the last 18 months in which Brilliant has come up with a mixture of harsh truth, science-based analysis and reassurance that one day we will be aware of what normal was like. But not necessarily soon: this summer, he was the lead author of a book article in foreign affairs Covid-19 called “The Forever Virus”. Which does not look very exhilarating.
In fact, living carefully in Marine Country, California, Brilliant, 77, seems as impatient as the rest of us. Even in the 2010 film Catastrophe he consulted, ContagionScientists have succeeded in turning the epidemic around faster than we did with Covid. He is audibly disappointed after seeing the failed policy and destructive politicization of the virus outbreak. Yet it still reminds us that we have come a long way: we have an effective vaccine and a current presidential administration committed to addressing the problem. But hurdles remain, and at the moment, one of the biggest is the presence of millions of unvaccinated children under the age of 12 in school.
Somehow, this was the hardest of the four talks I’ve been with him. It struggles with the dissonance between getting a vaccine and the ever-increasing number of deaths, especially when some countries have ample vaccination supplies and others have little access. Yes, the virus is forever, he believes. But, as people build resistance via vaccines and natural antibodies, there will come a day when this resistance will no longer control our lives, fill our intensive care units, and poison our politics. Only when that happens depends on us.
This interview has been shortened and edited for clarity.
Stephen Levy: Did we blow it up?
Larry Brilliant: We’ve blown this up a few times. The original sin was for the Chinese government to know about the outbreak – knowing that it’s spread via the respiratory system – and likely allow in single-digit millions. [Lunar New Year] festival Holiday travelers By passing through the epidemic area, getting on planes, going to foreign countries. That was our first chance to nip this in the bud.
Second place was Trump. If we had any chance after China, we would have taken the virus seriously. But what Trump did would be cruel to ostriches if we were to compare. He pretended not to notice. To capture a single moment, when passengers from Cruise ship returned to San Francisco, Trump said“I don’t want them to touch American soil so they don’t count against my numbers.” [Brilliant is paraphrasing.] This sums up the way Covid has been politicized.
Well, but I’m talking about 2021. We have a new management and things have been getting better. Now we seem to have lost momentum, and the White House has lost control of its narrative.
The problem we have now is that people continue the myth that kids don’t understand it, and you don’t spread it. Last week we had 250,000 children in the United States who had COVID-19. Roughly on September 1, plus or minus two weeks, 100,000 schools opened. The three things we know will keep children safe are vaccination, testing, and concealment. And out of those 100,000 schools, how many do you think won the triple?