Has-been rock star Ted Nugent told the world last week that he has COVID-19. Nugent’s announcement was an oddity because he previously called the viral pandemic a “leftist scam to destroy” Donald Trump. As I watched Nugent’s Facebook Live post, in which he repeatedly hocked up wads of phlegm and spit them to the ground, I got emotional when he described being so sick he thought he “was dying.” But when he trashed the COVID-19 vaccine and warned people against taking it, I realized that the emotion I was feeling was not empathy, it was anger.
For the better part of a year, as the coronavirus racked up hundreds of thousands of American deaths, the flickering light at the end of the tunnel was herd immunity — the antibody force shield that comes when enough people have survived the illness or have been vaccinated against it. “Go get vaccinated, America,” President Joe Biden said in his speech to a joint session of Congress, referring to the shot as “a dose of hope.”
Friends don’t let friends spread COVID
Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease doctor, suggested in December that if 75% to 80% of the population got vaccinated, we could reach herd immunity by the end of summer. And with herd immunity, we’d return to a measure of “normalcy,” meaning indoor dining, movie theaters and hugs.
But herd immunity is slipping away because a quarter of Americans are refusing to get the COVID-19 vaccine. “There is no eradication at this point, it’s off the table,” Dr. Gregory Poland, director of the Mayo Clinic’s Vaccine Research Group, recently said. “We as a society have rejected” herd immunity.