What people say and what people do, when push comes to shove, are often very different both in politics and life. It’s something political circles have always called the truth that comes out in the voting booth.

People may say they’re for someone, or some thing, but when it’s just you alone in a room, there’s an odd rush of other priorities, opinions and deeper feelings that come out.

What you’ve told people you’ll vote for isn’t always what drives your vote, or what you actually end up voting for when you step in the booth. With covid-19, even for people who’ve embraced every key health and safety measure, as I have, I think many people are at a tipping point of emotions.

It’s lead me to a question I think many people would like answered.

In places where vaccines and boosters are readily available, at what point in society do we say: if you’re still unvaccinated, you do so knowing the grave risks. Why are we still holding our life back for you?

a blue passport with gold text on it

Pandemic To Endemic

By all indications, vaccines are making the pandemic – endemic for everyone who is fully vaccinated. Deaths have plunged thanks to vaccines and therapies, including new over the counter pills, so why are we still suffering?

I guess I’ll start by clearing the air and saying that I’m such a fan of science and the work of solving things for the betterment of mankind. Believing in the miraculous work of the last few years, I never questioned getting vaccinated or boosted and did both at first jump. And yes, I wear a mask whenever asked, too.

I also spent like 40 days quarantining over the last 2 years simply to comply with travel restrictions and always want to be a part of the solution, not the problem.

But I’ll be honest, beyond the obvious life and death – and helping “be the change we want to see” reasons, one of the reasons I got vaccinated was probably one most of us secretly share. I did so because I want to enjoy a better life again, filled with freedom.

I’m feeling like the promises of a return to normalcy are being somewhat railroaded by gamesmanship.

I really just want to take my daughter out to dinner, or on a flight without wearing a mask some day. I’m tired of flights being cancelled because of the ever changing travel restrictions, which fail to flesh out root causes.

I want other people to be ok too, but the current environment is dystopian with no sign of exit, even for people who continue to do their part, booster after booster and beyond. Will there ever be an exit?

I guess what I’m trying to say is, if you’re feeling like you’ve done everything you’ve been asked, and are feeling like life and the joys of travel haven’t unlocked the way it felt as if they were promised, you’re not alone.

I don’t want to be embraced by anti-vaxxers or anti-maskers, nor do I want to be one of the insanely “woke” live in a bunker and wear masks forever crowd. Both are insane, in my view. But, I’m at a point where my patience for ever changing restrictions both in my travel and my life is wearing thin.

I’m not necessarily saying the whole world should unlock, but more efforts should be made to reward those who have done their part, to restore life as it once was.

Most indications of omicron (so far) point to mostly mild to moderate cases at worst for fully vaccinated people, many of which are even asymptomatic. So why do so many countries continue to panic and ruin planned unlocks for society?

Unfortunately, many answers are inconvenient.

Like, once someone is seen to be doing something, others have to – for fear they’ll be attacked politically if they don’t too, even if it’s an incredibly dumb thing to be doing.

To me, this is somewhat like following a crowd at the airport to the boarding gate, even though you know the flight isn’t boarding for another hour. Once someone sees one do it, the flock can’t resist following.

Speaking privately to friends and professionals, most of whom I consider totally logical, rational and of a pro-science, pro-data and “let’s take care of each other” mind, it has become very clear that I’m not the only one whose patience is wearing thin with the flip flops.

Each day of government ineptitude (all over the world) makes me skew more toward libertarian view points, of sometimes “no rules” are better than idiotic rules. Here are a few key rubs, which seem to really agitate those I speak to.

Medical Research Funding

Compared to finance and tech, work in science is under funded – and often under appreciated too. I fully think that should change, but mechanisms being deployed to achieve that right now are annoying.

A friend who works in a senior position regarding medical research grants clued me into the fact that many studies take on dramatic or worrying tangents, specifically to elicit eyeballs, and therefore, more funding possibilities.

These studies often become media darlings, since they are able to push the worrying narratives that drive clicks. More on that in a second.

We need science to help us out of this, but many people will perpetuate fear to drive personal, professional or organizational goals. There’s more funding being poured into science than ever – a nice silver lining of the pandemic – but people don’t want to lose that, and fear is a great way to continually drive that.

I wish there was a better way to fund vital projects – not just with covid-19 – but ideally cancer and others too. Imagine if all the resources that went into covid-19 went into cancer?

Click Media Makes Peanuts, So You Need Lots

Someone browsing an article on the internet contributes on average about a penny to the organization providing the news or content. As a funny aside, it’s why I’ve got no time or customer service for complainers in my comments section.

Even a million page views might only earn $10k a month, which hardly pays for global offices and 100+ person editorial teams, let alone travel budgets. Make it to 10 million page views and you’re at about 100k, but that’s not really enough to keep the lights on for most media companies.

Therefore, there is every incentive to drive clicks, and nothing drives clicks like fear. I wish we lived in a world where good news traveled as fast as bad, but we don’t – and that won’t be changing any time soon.

The same is a sad reality for traditional broadcast media. Every eyeball counts, and historically, the worse the news, the better the eyeballs. Good news rarely “sells”.

Yet Another Political Football

The exit from pandemic to endemic will become a hot button political issue, no doubt, and will be yet another thing which shouldn’t be political, yet is passed around like an oiled up football on a hot day.

Cynics in the US and Europe already suggest that mask policies will drop just in time for the next major election cycles, but not likely before. I don’t like to be cynical, even when life tells me to be, but if this happens, I will be forever impacted as a voter.

Keeping Score

I remember when President Biden told people not to worry about whether the person next to them was vaccinated, because if they were themselves, they’d be largely fine, even in the case of breakthrough infection.

I fully back vaccines, based on all data indicating that they continue to mitigate severe disease or death, and believe that’s largely still true. But, it’s no longer the message we hear, at all.

You can’t tell people they can take their masks off indoors and not worry about others, because they did their part, then take all that back.

I don’t bother engaging people who refuse to wear a mask on the train, or the plane anymore, because I believe in vaccines and the protections I have through them, and actually believe these people are just looking for a fight to stimulate their otherwise (miserable) lives.

The dumb people of society who were having raging orgies and indoor raves in the early stages of 2020 never stopped. We created rule after rule, policy after policy and the people that needed to hear them never heard them, nor did it deter them.

Yet, the people who were doing the right things already continue to be punished, for the sake of the unvaccinated and uninterested among them. It’s not a fair conversation in places with low vaccine prevalence, but in my respective areas of the US and UK, it’s the truth.

Somehow, we’re all in the same group, being pandered to by governments as if we’re young school children, and need permission to cross the road. In my opinion, there’s only so much “good faith” the public will continue to have, if things don’t change.

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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  1. Gilbert, you are clueless. You were told by the politicians that if you get vaccinated, you were free. That’s how vaccines should work, it immunizes you from getting sick. Then you were told that you were indeed not free because of the unvaccinated, which is quite odd considering you were vaccinated? Oh, the vaccines are not really vaccines, they don’t work as intended. To save face, they argue that the “vaccines” protect you like vitamin supplements. Then are they vaccines or not? It’s call bait and switch. Are you still buying this crap? Don’t blame the unvaccinated just because they don’t want to inject something into their body without knowing their actual long-term effects. It’s a brand new way of medicine interacting with our bodies. Blame your politicians who misled you. We are losing our freedom. Wake up!

    1. Hey, Wake Up- educate yourself. In the US, more than 90% of kids get vaccinated for polio and measles by age 2, and those vaccines have greater than 90% efficacy. That’s why we don’t have problems with those diseases. If more than a third of people refuse the vaccinate the societal impact of a vaccine is greatly diminished. Unfortunately, it isn’t just your body and your choice. It’s your choice, your impact on society, your impact on the global economy, your reckless selfishness.

      How about this choice? Your body stays home 24/7 if you don’t want to vaccinated? That works for me. Then the rest of the world can get on with normal life.

        1. I agree with “Wake Up”. Gilbert – you are clueless, its a shame. How do you explain that schools are now mandating vaccine to attend an online course? Its purely government manipulation. I hope that you will never have to decide against something that you believe just because you want to travel or eat at a restaurant. I will unsubscribe from your newsletter and I hope I few people join me.

  2. Agree with 90% of what you say, a very high score in my book.

    The further concern will be mandatory testing before you go anywhere. Once this is endemic and not much different from a bad cold, testing adds huge uncertainty to travel. For a couple of families traveling together it’s highly likely that one of the group will test positive just before, throwing everybody’s plans into chaos with potentially ruinously expensive consequences. We don’t do that with colds or flu so why with this? When will it end?

      1. I am a subscriber of yours and recently took a trip to visit my father. I am fully vaccinated but I had to take a serology test in order for my vaccinations to be recognized. Needless to say, the trip required me to a take a bunch of tests and be quarantined for a week (last year I quarantined/self-isolated for a total of 42 days). My elderly father has suffered from the isolation, that threatens to continue. Anyways, my own family back in North America hasn’t gotten together in two years and this Christmas will be the first time in two years. Originally my return trip to Canada would have taken me through Europe, but the possibility of a positive test (false or otherwise) and the attendant consequences caused me to change my plans. Scientists and health policy people continue to put a negative spin on the data. To me our experience with the virus plus data on Omicron suggests that vaccinations alone will not see us through to the other side. Nothing beats hybrid immunity.

  3. So much ignorance here. No a Covid vaccine reduces likelihood – it does not 100% protect. And with the continual development of variants that evade the immunity and spread faster this is where we are. Your impatience and anger should be directed at one group only – the ignorant assholes who refuse to get vaccinated and refuse to take other steps to reduce transmission. It is 100% because of them that the continual restrictions are needed because we’re just one possible variant away from one that evolves to bypass immunity and be much more deadly. The number of people (and lets face it – they’re primary of one political persuasion) who feel a need to prove their point about “free-dum” just . . . because . . . are the ones we should be running out of patience with. They are why we are still here. Had everyone done their part – we could reduce restrictions – but until more people voluntarily do their part – we’ll still be here. And far too many people taking their anger out on the government rather than the people who have caused this – that is what is poiltical – the refusal to hold the true culprits accountable.

    1. What in life 100% protects? The world has always advised elderly and at risk to take extra precaution in life. I think people have lost the ability to zoom out to the wider picture that nothing in life is guaranteed, and almost everything we do in life carries risk. For example, every car journey is significantly more dangerous than any flight, yet people don’t say “have a safe journey” when someone hops in the car.

      For people who are fully vaccinated and boosted and under 75, what are the current figures for severe illness or death, versus other endemic illnesses? Do they merit the global scene we are experiencing? I’m open to learning.

      I’d really love to know how calling me “ignorant”, helps anything here. I already mention in the article how much I hate the very people you say I should be angry with, who are a cause of much of the ongoing issues. Yet, what I’m advocating, is that for people who aren’t the problem, greater freedoms should be granted.

  4. What sets me off the most is that the government insists we all get vaccinated to get our freedoms and normal lives back, but then regularly and reliably strips away the very benefits we were being enticed with. The latest being that the US now requires a COVID test for all inbound air travelers within 24 hours of travel date, vaccinated or not. Japan requires airport COVID testing and a 14 day quarantine for all international arrivals, vaccinated or not. Since our leaders don’t seem to want to bother making a distinction between those who have followed the “rules” and those who haven’t, it makes sense that so many have decided not to bother getting the jab.

    1. I think this is the issue, in a roundabout nutshell. Here we are, a tale of two very different paths, still in an identical boat. Those who resisted vaccines are laughing at those that got them. To some extent, health wise, the same goes the other way. But, when it comes to moving around freely, we are all one in the same, and if we want to move the needles beyond 60-70%, to a higher percentage, I think unlocks for vaccinated could be a real driver.

      1. I have had Covid 3 times – fortunately all mild. There isn’t really any reason to get vaccinated with the natural immunity provided by infection and recovery.

        Two questions:
        1. Since I have natural antibodies (possibly providing substantially more protection than vaccination), why can’t I be granted all the rights and privileges of those who have been fully vaccinated?

        2. Why is there so much anger about this? Get vaccinated or don’t. My body, my choice. Your body, your choice. Make a choice and live your life. My parents aren’t vaccinated. My wife’s parents are. I love them all and support their decisions.

        1. I’d say, you’d qualify under the recovery passes, which I have no issue with. As long “my body my choice” extends to your views for all issues, unlike many “my body, my choice” people, who would like to limit what people can do with their bodies in certain states.

        2. You say you’ve had COVID 3 times, then talked about natural immunity?
          Your first COVID didn’t provide natural immunity against catching it a second time, and your first 2 times didn’t keep you from catching it the 3rd time.
          At least in your case the idea that natural immunity was better than the vaccine is not just false, but laughingly false.

  5. So you care or don’t care about people that medically can’t get the shot due to probable allergic reactions from many other vaccines? I take it from your article that those people should just die?

    1. I take it from your loaded gun question that you’d like me to write an imploding answer. There are many ways to be a part of the solution to this. Vaccines are a large part of that, but if that’s legitimately not feasible, then regular testing and or other measures for other unvaccinated people seems reasonable for the health and safety of all involved. There are also non-vaccine options to protect yourself which are being endorsed by the medical community now.

  6. Agree with some of your points . As a physician I am exhausted of telling patients they should consider a vaccine that can reduce your risk of being hospitalized and of death, long Covid . I have had some die, many hospitalized , many with long Covid but you know what ??? it was their choice . We can’t live forever in lockdown . Data has shown boosters provide excellent protection from severe disease and hospitalizations across all adult ages . We got regeneron which is a great tool for the immunosuppressed or those who are allergic to the vaccine and hopefully soon we will have the new promising Pfizer drug . Seems w omicron most vaxxed people are either asymptomatic Or having mild illnesses . So if the unvaxxed get hospitalized so what ? We can’t do anything about it . Let the rest of the people live their lives . Get vaxxed eat healthy and keep a normal bmi . That’s all we can do . Life needs to go on .

  7. The commentary is good but, I believe, it is flawed. Covid-19 is so new.

    If you are vaccinated, you still have to act like you are unvaccinated. Vaccination is not a free pass. Masks, particularly N95, are still a good idea as is reduction in contact opportunities. That means no restaurants or much fewer eating out.

    Omicron is not necessarily mild. It’s only mild so far because elderly people are staying home. The elderly could start dropping like flies and the young will eventually die, too. Maybe not that many young but it’s too early to say.

    1. Some of the omicron affected patients were fully vaccinated, especially the ones that went to the anime convention in NYC. See, going to that convention was stupid because it spread omicron to many US states.

  8. Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha. You sound completely miserable as you should be for suborning your life. As you note the unvaccinated seem to be laughing now but, hey, they’re ignorant fools anyway according to you and your science following pals. But you be you bro.

    Here’s an idea that might appeal to make you happier, shove all those non compliant folk into camps. I’m not sure where that might have been used before….

    1. “Here’s an idea that might appeal to make you happier, shove all those non compliant folk into camps. I’m not sure where that might have been used before….”

      Oh that’s easy. That’s what they did with Typhoid Mary.

  9. Amen. We’d be better without politicians and media, except travel blogs. Common sense keeps the world turning

  10. Good article. I mostly agree with you, though I think you’re too generous with the lockdown / mask forever crowd.

    I believe in science. The vaccine has done exactly what we wanted it to do – largely prevent death and hospitalization. I do not have animosity toward unvaccinated people b/c I think the US has done an absolutely horrible job at messaging and education. Our public health apparatus has been a debacle. If this were a business, certain heads (who shall remain unnamed) should roll.

    It’s time to move on. Whenever anyone guilts you about living your life, you can also remind them of the destruction that lockdowns and mandates have caused. I know people who have lost their business and livelihood b/c of government tyranny (i.e. covid lockdowns and restrictions). Also, what about the people who are dying of addiction, abuse, depression / suicide?

    For most things in life, our governments do cost-benefit analysis (e.g. we sometimes raise the speed limits knowing that it will simultaneously increase time-efficient travel while also causing more deaths). It’s a trade-off that we live with. Why then do we act like every covid death is a character flaw to be blamed on people who want to resume normal life? Very odd.

    I work in healthcare. Most physicians agree with you, though many are scared to say so b/c of political fallout. Keep talking, it’s one of the only ways out of this.

  11. I’m a doctor in the ICU department of a large hospital in the north of england.

    In August we were all told that we would need to show a ‘COVID Passport’ to enter indoor venues by the end of September. That never happened because the government was too scared to implement them.

    If you were sitting on the fence about getting vaccinated things like not being able to go to the pub or eat in a restaurant may have been just the push for many to get vaxxed.

    On the subjects of variants the hype and drama is ridiculous. In 2050 we will probably still see new variants. COVID is a virus. This is how a virus survives. Typical survival of the fittest and will continue to mutate to avoid death from vaccines or treatments. Exactly the same as the seasonal flu or HIV.

    For these reasons, vaccines will never be 100% effective. Again, no different to the seasonal flu vaccines. In europe each year we will predict which strains will arrive in winter based on the data from Australia. Each year will differ in accuracy. No different with COVID vaccines – the ones we have now are still based on the Alpha variant of the virus and the vaccines going forward will constantly need to be tweaked to take into account mutations.

    The real problem is this – the unvaccinated fill up intensive care beds. In most countries ICU units are usually a pretty scarce resource. Not so much the beds, more the doctors and nurses needed to staff them. And the ventilators. Many take the view ‘well, it’s only the stupid unvaccinated that will end up in ICU’. Then say a 20 year old is involved in a serious car accident and requires ICU. Or a young person is stabbed and requires ICU. Yet, they’re all full. The problem with that is obvious.

    And this is where encouraging vaccines is most important. I can guarantee you, having worked since the beginning of the pandemic, the only COVID patients I see are the unvaccinated. Vaccinated people will continue to catch COVID, they’ll continue to pass it on. Probably for years and years from now. However, it’s HIGHLY unlikely they will end up in hospital, let alone ICU.

    1. Agree with you . The main problem as you said is when hospitals fill up it affects other patients . Here in Florida hospitals had to cancel elective procedures during the surges , many people who needed surgery , colonoscopies Etc were postponed . Hospitals were discharging non-Covid patients home super quick in order to save the beds .
      In primary care we are seeing patients who skipped screenings during the time and now have cancer. The toll on mental health the pandemic has had is horrible too .
      Agree w you that more and more variants are going to form this is not going away anytime soon . We got to learn to live with this somehow

  12. Amen Gilbert! Governments around the world are trying to keep adult-babies happy by pampering them while at the same time making it harder for everyone including those that do the right thing. It has already taken them too long to implement vaccination mandates worldwide. The role of the state is to take robust and stern decisions for the benefit of the society. We can’t sympathise with the crazy fantasies of a loud minority, they can go build their own leper colonies; preferably on islands.

  13. I feel very similar. I have done the right thing and like you jumped at the chance to be part of the solution, not part of the problem. At this point, having mandatory testing even for us who actually DID the right thing feels like a punishment. I haven’t traveled internationally since this all started as there is far too much uncertainty involved let alone added anxiety. I feel that if I’ve done all that I can do, why do I have to get punished along with those who refuse to? It’s like putting everyone in jail because one or two people have done something bad.

    I’d fully support “no vaccine/no entry” and enforce that for any travel as well as stadiums, restaurants, etc. Either a vaccine or recent recovery. Private industries are free to do this (it is their choice to serve the customers they choose).

    I just want to get back to a regular and normal life at this point. This whole thing is most definitely being extended by the anti-vaxxers. Those are the ones who should have the continued restrictions, but for us who actually DO the right thing, let us live again and move on.

  14. Hey Gil,
    I appreciate your view as I have held the belief of Live and Let Live and To Each Their Own. Your words in the last paragraph are an excellent summation, “…we’re all in the same group.”
    Like my GTI I’m fully boosted! I didn’t get Vaxxx’d to keep my job, or because it’s best for others. I am fully Vaxxx’d because I knew that it eventually would be the how & why I would have the ability to travel abroad. If anyone harbors such anger at anyone that it should result in a hate toward their fellow man, then they have issues and need much more than therapy. That said I’ve had many conversations with physicians (MD’s & DO’s), surgeons, individuals that are and aren’t vaccinated. Has anyone taken the time to sit and listen to the other without prejudice?
    For some the hesitancy, especially in the medical community, does stem from a lack of vaccine studies. Of note, a rise in VZV among teens and young adults that haven’t experienced chickenpox, however, were vaccinated according to vaccine schedules. Although an uncommon side effect, many of whom have continued to experience outbreaks. It was later found that this was due to vaccination.
    As for me, “Better life now through science,” is my motto. I fail to believe in juices, herbs, berries, that any earth supplements have the ability to heal anything other than my hunger and even that is momentary at best lol. I’m not about to tell anyone what they should or shouldn’t do with their life as it’s not mine to live.
    I’ve also said from the outset of this virus, it’s a virus and not going away. I’ve also remarked that this virus will be HIV 2.0 and no surprise since lord Farquaad was released upon the public. Just look at how people choose to treat one another. All one has to do is look at any comments section of travel blogs.
    I find it hilarious in the comments when I see the, “I’m a physician/doctor/nurse” etc. attempting to influence with “credentials” that are irrelevant. If you really are then you must be terrible since you’re utilising your “license” to practice the healing arts toward people that you know nothing about. According to the California BPC sections 2052 & 2054 you may want to rethink such advertisements.
    My comment is directed toward the hateful comments and those that wrote them. Why can’t we be better? Let’s aim toward being the Best of Humanity.
    Gil, I find your writing to be honest and refreshing. Keep it up.
    Just my $0.02

  15. I’ve predicted it a few times but here goes again:
    Five years – end of 2026. That’s when things can start to look more normal in most parts of the world.
    Until then, expect COVID 24/7, especially when travelling.
    Here’s a few more predictions: 1) masks on planes are forever, as in ‘never going to go away’. You’ll mask up when flying regardless. Forever. COVID is endemic; so are masks. Masks are a symbol of our acknowledgement of that fact and of our surrender to it. 2) Some places (like Oregon, for starters) will mandate masks in indoor public spaces forever. They’ll simply pass the law, enforce it indefinitely, but will never repeal it. Not in your lifetime. 3) Some places will mandate yearly boosters, and some won’t. But some will and that will be difficult to reverse. 4) COVID is forever, like it or not. Like the flu. This once-in-a-lifetime event has frightened humanity and this will take a decade or more to wash out. Travel will be impacted for more than a decade but the mania will begin to wear off around 2026. There you go. Mark my words.

  16. We went from 14 days to slow the spread to the EU leader suggesting ending the Nuremberg code. CDC wants to bury vaccine studies for 75 years from public scrutiny. Nothing to see here…A major health crisis should never be used for political gain or governmental over reach. I am shocked at how the goal posts get moved over and over again. Today the WHO announces ZERO have died from Omnicron…what a sham…to call this a pandemic and not an endemic is deceptive and allows the civil right abuses to continue. I got vaccinated and it made travel easier to Europe last summer but my wife has been told she shouldn’t get the vaccine….so it’s only testing for her…who knows about 2022 holds…I know one thing…I am not showing a green pass in a cafe in Paris like the Nazi did in their occupation.

    1. I understand your point, however, where I differ is that I will & happily do show my Spanish QR code, French Pass Sanitaire, English Health Locator Form no problem. My reason: I am or want to be a guest in your “house”, I’ll follow your rules. Where I refuse is here at home. I’ll not show any proof anywhere that requests it, this is where I live, my house. If a restaurant/establishment here in the Bay Area or anywhere in the States wants me to flash my Vax…No Way! I don’t need your food & beverages, I can do much better elsewhere or at home where I’m quite good.

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