I’ve skated along thus far pretty well, blissfully unaware of any near misses I may have had up to this point. My year has been as full as I could have asked for, being a new father and all, and I’ve still been able to see friends on some—albeit rare—occasions. Though I’m not sure if my decline in social life is because of covid or fatherhood…
But this week was one of those rare occasions I decided to break the general isolation. An old friend was playing his country music at a beer garden, and I decided to gather some friends and go. We were among the mostly-vaxed, and a couple fully-vaxed, and the singer himself was fully-vaxed, but with the Chinese vaccine. And herein lies why I’m sitting on my balcony writing this, with the bedroom door closed and my son occasionally tapping on the door wondering why I won’t play with his cars with him.
The day after the outdoor show, the singer tested positive for covid. In Tbilisi, all cases are of the hyper infectious Variant D—which I can’t help but to feel as part of an MCU plot. Normally this wouldn’t concern me much, but we had sat together and chatted for a bit and I have a kid.
The most annoying thing is I know I've been at greater risk, but it was never spelled out to me that I was exposed. And now it's probably a lower risk, and I have to decide to be responsible or be the opposite.
It’s the kid-factor that changes everything. More kids are showing up in hospitals since D has shown up. And not enough studies have been made to show whether these kids are showing up simply because D is more infectious and the same rate of serious illnesses among children is occurring (thus leading more kids to the hospital) or because it’s that much more dangerous for kids. As a father, I’m not sure I like that calculation.
The first two days I’ll be honest. I was betting I didn’t even catch the damn thing. We were outside, we were fairly distanced, and we didn’t chat for that long. But as the day draws closer to where, if I had caught it the viral load would be high enough to be infectious even before I showed symptoms, I began to get nervous. Hopefully that time hasn’t already passed, which is why I’m getting tested on this day. But if it has passed and that test shows positive—it means that I was already contagious and my kid could already have it and we’re just waiting around to see whether he gets it, and if he does, if he even gets a serious case.
The chances are obviously overwhelmingly on our side. My decision to ride the rest of the period out locked up in my room certainly helps us. It’s an astronomical chance anything bad could happen. Firstly, I’d have to have caught it. And since I’m half-Pfizer’d, that at least helps by 30%. We were outside. We were fairly distanced. I’ve been wearing a mask inside ever since. And now I’m in a room apart from the rest of the flat.
In some sense, I’m taking up a bit of the Georgian culture. There is a medieval village in the mountains, Shatili, where nearby was a “plague village”. In times of plague, the sick would go off to these small huts, seal themselves up, and die. It was a way of saving the rest of the village so that the disease wouldn’t spread. Now, our epidemiology has hopefully improved since then, but same sort of thing. Holing up for a weekend and waiting in a cabin full of bones to die. Yeah, same thing.
The Pandemic of the Unvaccinated and Children
This D variant is the spanner in the works. People are more and more vaccinated—and that’s great—but the vaccinations aren’t one hundred percent, and they’re even less now with D. Pfizer has been downgraded to the upper 80-percentiles, and all the other vaccines have been lowered in efficacy as well against it.
And those generous percentages come with a huge catch. Those are percentages where it’s likely you won’t end up in the hospital. How the vaccine helps defeat the infection early on—so that we don’t spread it—and if the infection holds up and a viral load… we don’t know yet.
That is to say, it’s still better to be vaccinated. You’re still less likely to catch it, and thus to spread it, than if you were unvaccinated. The leaks from the CDC have come with poor wording, where it says, “You are more likely to spread it if you are vaccinated”, leaving out the “more likely to spread D than other variants if you are vaccinated”. Not against the unvaccinated. I’ve read a lot of people who don’t seem to have understood that huge difference.
But, that also means the vaccinated folks still need to take care. If you have children, it might still be a good idea to reduce the social life. And even if you are vaccinated, you should still mask up when in close proximity to others, because you could spread it to them and they could have children or be living with other at-risk members (like conspiracy theorists).
Timing is a bugger
And of course, this has to happen right when I’m about to get my second dose. There is apparently no danger in getting vaccinated while having covid. The problem is that if you don’t know if you have covid or not, and you get side effects from the vaccine, you won’t really know if they’re from the vaccine or from having covid until a couple of days have passed. And during that time, you could be infectious (if you actually have covid). That’s why they say to refrain from getting vaccinated if you’ve been exposed (and also you could infect people at the clinic).
Of course, for me, it will be on the 7/8th day. The average incubation period for D is at a much reduced 3.4ish days. That means if I test again on Monday, show I’m negative, then really I should be clear. Unless I’m the exception of the exception of the exception. And as I’ve never won a lottery in my life, I don’t expect to start now.
Granted, with my luck…