A little while ago, I got a text from a friend. He said:
When we were kids, my parents sent us to visit friends who had chicken pox, so we would catch it. You’re welcome to come visit us 🙂.
It wasn’t chicken pox in his household, but a case of COVID-19. Mild symptoms, as evidenced by the lighthearted invitation to visit.
When the first of my friends contracted covid, in February 2020, the didn’t believe it could be the corona virus. After all, there had been no cases reported in our area. They understandably thought they had caught a very bad flu.
Discussing the virus during the early days of the pandemic, my wife and I both wondered if the best thing would be to find someone with COVID-19, get exposed, get sick and get it over with. Just like mothers used to send their children to get chickenpox.
The theory was that, if you don’t have underlying health concerns, it would be more efficient to choose when you got sick and manage it yourself rather than have it happen at an inconvenient time. The thought was that we were all going to get it. (And that may still be the case – I seem to recall seeing somewhere recently that so far one on four Canadians has caught the virus.)
When our neighbours got sick, in March 2020, we re-thought the concept. Having someone you know taken away by ambulance will do that. And then hearing the stories of those who recovered about how horrible they felt when they were sick. That was also before a couple of friends died from the virus.
I saw a headline a couple of months back that suggested that in the UK health officials expected one out of two people to be infected with the Omicron variant. I don’t know if that wound up being the case, given that the variant was more contagious (and milder in its effect). I guess it was possible. I do know people in the UK who caught it in the past two months, but it seems to have been mostly quick and mild.
Here in Canada I have a lot more friends who have had positive tests in recent months, but once again it seems to have been mild cases. However, I’m not going out of my way to get sick. It doesn’t strike me as much fun.
I have been wondering though if it isn’t about time we started moving society’s approach to COVID-19 from pandemic to endemic. It doesn’t seem to be going anywhere, and continued measures smack more of hubris – if we have learned anything in the past two years it is that we can’t “beat” COVID. We just need to learn to live with it.
Or maybe we need to have everyone catch it and get the whole thing over with.
That does mean some people are going to catch covid and die. It could be you. It could be me.
Or we could be killed by a car while crossing a busy street. I think for me that is actually a far higher possibility than death by covid.