A lot of memes have been sent to me over the past few days marking the end of the old year and the start of the new year.
Most of them farewell 2020 with some profanities of some sort – I will not repeat them because, as Kurt Vonnegut once wrote, swearing gives people an excuse not to listen to you (or to read you, although I have very few actual readers on this blog).
Which got me thinking as to what the next orbit around the sun formally known as Anno Domini 2021 has got in store for us.
When the covid first invaded our consciousness in January last year, one of the many names it had (and yes, it seems to have had as many names as Aragorn son of Arathorn or The Phantom) was the Novel Coronavirus.
I’m not sure about you, but for me, the novelty of the pandemic and its cause has definitely worn off.
Novelty aside, 2021 still has a coronavirus literally plaguing us, just as 2020 did. In fact, I think this year could be worse.
Let’s look at some numbers:
. as of today, there are approximately 85 million recorded cases of covid worldwide
. the number of cases is doubling every 72 days
. the fatality rate is currently approximately 2.2%
. vaccinations in the USA are occurring at 200,000 people per day – as a double shot, at this rate, it would take 10 years to vaccinate the USA alone.
So, taking a hard look at the reality that these numbers mean (maths was always one of my stronger subjects in school), the number of covid cases could very possibly double 5 times over the course of 2021, meaning 32 times as many cases as we have now. That would mean an approximate 2.7 billion cases by the end of 2021 worldwide, and almost 60 million more covid related deaths.
This is not some sort of eschatological crisis (I have not changed my views from what I wrote last January). It is simply mathematical reality as to what is quite possible, and the realisation that countries like the USA need, if they were to try and get the covid under control within the next year, they need to vaccinate at a daily rate ten times higher than they currently are.
If Australia were to start vaccinating immediately (and I am glad we are waiting to see how things go in the USA and UK first), we would need to vaccinate 150,000 people per day to get it done by the end of 2021.
And that would be assuming that most people are going to be reasonable about vaccinations. We live in an era where vaccinations are now seen skeptically by a large part of the population. [As an aside, the refusal of militant islamic fundamentalists in certain remote pockets of the world to permit vaccinations has prevented the elimination of polio, which is now making a comeback. So if there is skepticism around polio vaccinations amongst some not particularly reasonable people, imagine what the reaction will be to a covid vaccine.]
Hence, I am rather cautious as to what to expect in 2021. I am still maintaining a large stash of toilet paper, which I am replenishing with regular visits to the supermarket, and I will not be too surprised if I continue to spend a large proportion of my working hours this year seated at my dining table in front of my laptop.
I just hope that is the worst that I see this year. We all are worried about the people we care about succumbing to this plague.