Welcome to the Fourth Surge

Al Jacobs

In case you are not paying attention, our nation is experiencing its 19th month enmeshed in the coronavirus pandemic.


The opening lines of one of yesterday’s front page articles in my local newspaper states: “The summer that was supposed to mark America’s independence from COVID-19 is instead drawing to a close with the U.S. more firmly under the tyranny of the virus, with deaths per day back up to where they were in March.”

A little further into the article it says: “It wasn’t supposed to be this way. More than six months into the U.S. vaccination drive, President Joe Biden held a White House party on July Fourth to celebrate the country’s freedom from the virus.”

Let us now view in on one of today’s articles, where our president informs us the pandemic is still with us because millions of Americans are not yet vaccinated. As he announced: “We’ve been patient. But our patience is wearing thin and your refusal has cost all of us. The unvaccinated minority can cause a lot of damage and they are.”

Without a doubt, President Biden doesn’t pull his punches as he identifies who he views as the cause of the continuing pandemic. However, his choice of the guilty target fails to take into consideration a crucial detail.

How can his accusation be reconciled with the fact that, although 208 million Americans are now all or partially vaccinated, we are currently experiencing approximately 300% more new infections, two-and-one-half times more hospitalizations and twice the number of deaths than at this time last year before a single person had been vaccinated?

As we are now attempting to search for the reasons this viral presence refuses to abate, as did prior epidemics, there are a number of factors which deserve to be analyzed. The first we shall review is the tenacity of the virus, referred to in the virology trade as its persistence. There is no fond farewell after infection with many viruses. Persistent varieties often find safe spaces – commonly known as sanctuary sites – in which to hang out. The body’s immune system is not completely shut out, so what goes on is a sort of low-level battle between the immune cells and the pathogen that may continue to simmer for a prolonged period.

So far, according to Ryan McNamara, a molecular virologist at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine in Chapel Hill, there’s not much evidence to indicate this SARS-CoV-2 leaves its genetic material around so it can reemerge later. As he remarked: “It gets in. It gets out.” Despite this, some people who recovered from COVID-19 appear to have become re-infected later.

However, this is questionable. The evidence is the virus is actually a slightly different variety and not the original. Therefore, it is not a persistent virus we’ve encountered; it is a truly a new infection.

We shall now focus in on another factor possibly contributing to the continuation of our pandemic: the unavailability of a vaccine capable of creating the antibodies necessary to thwart the virus. However, as we know, approved vaccines are now in ample supply and officially they are strongly recommended.

The most recent report I’ve seen itemizes 10 personal and public health reasons they should be accepted by everyone. They will, as briefly as I can describe, perform the following: (1) prevent your own illness (2) enable us to achieve herd immunity (3) stop further spread of the virus (4) allow us to return to normal (5) permit us to hug our friends and family (6) amply provide protection (7) avoid unlikely side effects (8) rely upon scientific facts (9) assure you vaccines will work (10) guarantee safety and effectiveness.

If the vaccines truly provide all the benefits just listed, there can be no doubt they deserve to be voluntarily embraced by every thinking person in this nation. And yet, despite this fact, the latest report is there are 80 million U.S. residents, referred to as anti-vaxers, who for one reason or another refuse to be vaccinated.

What might possibly be a reason for this? A few facts pop up at once which can cause a knowledgeable person to question the validity of the benefits claimed.

You might note that when the first vaccine was approved by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) – due to the urging of President Trump, who insisted on an authorized vaccine he might take credit for prior to the date he was to stand for reelection – Dr. Paul Offit, a member of the FDA Advisory Panel, described the U.S.’s upfront financing of all the vaccines.

He said “The government essentially paid for overlapping phenomena, which is to say the vaccines were mass-produced without knowing if they worked or were safe, so overlapped phase III trials which would normally never happen.” What’s abundantly clear is the vaccines were jammed through as a political expediency.

Another revelation you should be aware of is that Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and Chief Medical Advisor to President Biden, was interviewed as to how he conducts himself as a fully vaccinated individual.

He admitted, despite his secure status, he is unwilling to enter a restaurant, continues to wear a mask in public, will not board a plane nor expose himself to the virus if he can avoid it. This does not speak well of his confidence in the vaccine.

As for the effectiveness of the vaccines, an Israeli study, released as recently as Sept. 9, 2021, of 16,000 persons who had COVID-19, but did not get vaccinated, who were compared with an equal number fully vaccinated, but without the ailment.

The researchers found the naturally acquired immunity of COVID-19 was more potent than vaccine-induced immunity by a factor of 13 to 1. Does this provide you with a little more data on which you may make a reasoned evaluation of the vaccine?

Finally, in our search for a reason why this pandemic continues in perpetuity, it’s time to affix our gaze on a logical source: our political leaders, who are the persons setting the rules as to how the virus shall be engaged.

Here in California our governor granted himself executive authority to enforce those rules, as did the governors of a number of other states – and all in a similar fashion. If there’s a single mantra repeated over and over, it is we must succeed in stopping the spread of the virus. This has been declared as the only acceptable way the pandemic can be dealt with.

Apparently our governor, as well as other officials throughout the nation, are basing their responses to the pandemic on the recommendations they receive from the public health epidemiologists who investigate patterns and causes of disease.

Understandably, these specialists seek to reduce the risk and occurrence of negative health outcomes solely on the basis of health-related data, with no concern whatever for societal, economic or political ramifications. As it is the officially approved approach, none other dare be suggested.

Perhaps this is an appropriate time to give some thought as to how and why a pandemic ends. It’s safe to say it will end, as did all other viral pandemics. A relatively virulent virus was the Hong Kong flu of 1968, whose outbreak in 1968 and 1969 killed over four million people worldwide, along with many in the U.S. But the nation’s economy seemed not devastated by it, for we all took it upon ourselves to provide for our personal health care in what we considered an appropriate manner. By mid-1970 the ailment became mostly a memory of the past.

It’s not until government operatives take charge to dictate how we must conduct ourselves that utter bedlam results … which you may now view. Simply look around a bit and speak to the many innocents who are frightened senseless by what they are now convinced is a replica of the mid-14th century Black Death. You must realize that slowing the spread of the virus requires everyone confine themselves in various ways.

And with another confinement, the virus will simply wait it out until susceptible targets return. When they do, the Fifth Surge will begin. And if our officials continue to function in the same manner they’ve employed from the onset, with alternating confinements and surges, they can extend this pandemic for a full decade or more. What we now know is the disease must reach a point where it’s unable to successfully find enough hosts to catch it and continue to spread it.

We’ve now arrived at the bottom line; how shall we deal with the pandemic from here on? My belief: exactly as we did in our past one hundred plus epidemics or pandemics. Return the responsibility of conducting each person’s life to that person. Those who consider themselves susceptible to the virus will decide how to protect themselves. Let government officials return to conducting the business they are elected or appointed to perform and cease attempting to dictate how every life must be led.

A final comment: A somewhat recent letter to an editor contained two sentences qualifying as the finest example of illogic I’ve ever seen. It said: “The economy cannot afford for this pandemic to be stretched out any longer. We must do our part as citizens to stop the spread of covid-19.” The contradiction, of course, is when the spread of the virus is stopped, the pandemic becomes further stretched.


Al Jacobs, a professional investor for nearly a half-century, issues weekly financial articles in which he shares his financial knowledge and experience. Al may be contacted at al@abjacobs.com.


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