The State of the Union speech, which is usually delivered around the time the president submits his next annual budget proposal to Congress, is typically scheduled for January or early February. The lateness of President Biden’s first State of the Union speech on March 1 has provoked a lot of speculation that the date was picked in hopes that the Omicron variant would have peaked and very nearly disappeared completely, and thus make it possible for Biden to declare an end to all of the COVID restrictions and a return to normal life.
That would be a good political move, as Democrats are seeing ominous polling numbers that many of their own voters are growing impatient for a return to normal life (even if Joy Behar never wants to give up her mask). Biden desperately needs to change the subject if he is to turn around his plummeting poll numbers, and this would be the best way to do it.
But it seems like this prospect is already in retreat. First:
Feb 18 (Reuters) – President Joe Biden said on Friday the U.S. national emergency declared in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic will be extended beyond March 1 due to the ongoing risk to public health posed by the coronavirus.
Biden said the deaths of more than 900,000 Americans from COVID-19 emphasized the need to respond to the pandemic with “the full capacity” of the federal government. Former President Donald Trump had declared a national emergency almost two years ago to free up $50 billion in federal aid.
“There remains a need to continue this national emergency,” Biden said in a letter on Friday to the speaker of the House of Representatives and the president of the Senate.
Of course they need to “continue this national emergency.” The CDC and other public health bureaucracies have never had so much fun. With the additional attention—and larger budgets—that have come with it, their self-interest lies squarely in having COVID continue forever. (I’ve asked in a different context: with California’s cities now spending $100,000 per homeless person, do you think any government official in charge of “homeless services” wants homelessness to be solved or even reduced?)
Then there’s this, from the Wall Street Journal this morning:
U.S. health regulators are looking at potentially authorizing a fourth dose of a Covid-19 vaccine in the fall, according to people familiar with the matter.
The planning is still in early stages, and authorization would depend on ongoing studies establishing that a fourth dose would shore up people’s molecular defenses that waned after their first booster and reduce their risk of symptomatic and severe disease, the people said.
The Food and Drug Administration, however, has begun reviewing data so it can make a decision, the people said.
Oh, goody. Memo to the Biden Administration: If your health bureaucracies recommend a 4th shot, how about trying persuasion instead of force and mandates to get people to take it?
One reason for this advice is what might be called the need to end “the bigotry of the vaccinated.” Yesterday PsyArXiv, an online site specializing in “pre-print” studies (that is, studies not yet submitted for peer review or publication in a specific journal, which can take more than a year to process, which is dumb in the middle of a fast-moving thing like COVID, which is why probably a thousand COVID-related academic articles have been released in just this way over the past two years) posted an interesting study from three political scientists at Aarhus University in Europe about the attitudes of the vaccinated and unvaccinated toward the other group, based on surveys of more than 10,000 people in 21 countries. The study is notable not merely for its results, but partly because it is written in relatively plain English, unlike most social science studies.
Recall how the left likes to think that Americans (and other western countries) seeth with bigotry against immigrants, and especially Middle Eastern immigrants? Get a load of this from the study:
Our results reveal that, as predicted, vaccinated people have high antipathy towards unvaccinated individuals. . . The results demonstrate that this antipathy is completely one-sided; exclusively being directed by the vaccinated towards the unvaccinated, while the average unvaccinated person harbors no antipathy towards vaccinated individuals. . .
To put these effects in perspective, it is helpful to compare them to antipathy towards immigrants from the Middle East – a group battling high levels of discrimination globally. Strikingly, antipathy towards the unvaccinated among vaccinated people (13 percentage points) is two and a half times the size of antipathy towards Middle Eastern immigrants. . . It demonstrates that unvaccinated targets face more severe exclusionary reactions than immigrants in 16 out of 21 countries.
This part is also fun:
Supplementary analyses indicate that while we observe large antipathy across all demographic groups, it is slightly larger among female, highly educated, more affluent, and older respondents.
In other words, the proverbial “Karens” and others who watch “The View.”
Most importantly, independently of whether this antipathy is acceptable or not, the costs will be the same. Prior research has emphasised that moralistic communication on the issue of vaccination is an effective strategy to increase uptake but the present research draws attention to the potential negative impact of such strategy. Research suggests that unvaccinated individuals already felt marginalized and fatigued early in the pandemic and that mistrust in the political system was a key reason for refusing vaccinations. Research also suggest that unvaccinated individuals feel pressured and that this pressure increases mistrust in governments’ handling of the pandemic.
You don’t need rocket science to know this; you only need social science. Actually common sense will do.