18 March 2020
Would you like to hear my plan to save the world? I’ve even thought of a name for it: RCI (Rolling Controlled Infection), and it’s basically a worldwide program of low tech vaccination. I’m sure others have thought of this before, but I refuse to Google it. I want to prolong this cheerful period of feeling that I really have thought of something useful and new.
I’m starting with these facts (I hope they’re facts) in mind:
- Infection confers immunity (if you survive).
- Most people do survive.
- An actual vaccine won’t be available for at least a year.
- Almost all of us are going to get this thing eventually.
I also have in mind that story from The Great Brain where one kid comes down with the mumps, and Mama puts her other two sons, who are still well, in bed with her sick son, so as to get the infection over with all at once, for all the kids. It’s all done under Mama’s watchful eye, and of course she takes wonderfully good care of them.
In my scheme, Mama is the Federal Government of the United States of America, and her sister nations around the world. The program would deploy mama’s tactic of deliberate infection, but instead of getting everyone sick at once, the idea would be to take turns. In other words, since almost all of us are going to get infected sooner or later, we might as well try to do it in a controlled way that gives the old and vulnerable their best chance.
Here’s how it works. A group of volunteers (young, healthy and childless–in other words, not me) gets deliberately infected and then quarantined. They get sick. Almost all of them get better, maybe even every single one. They are now immune and (just as important) known to be immune. Their job is to provide whatever services are needed for people who must remain isolated in their homes because they’re old or otherwise vulnerable. The next wave of volunteers goes. Most survive and now they’re immune too. They go back to work and school and shops and restaurants etc. Their job is to resume normal life and spend money. The next wave goes. And the next. And the next.
Some people would die, but of course that’s going to happen anyway. And there would be fewer deaths than if we wait for some price-gouging vaccine. And for the volunteers who do die, there would be a huge cash payout for their surviving families, plus the thanks and praise of a grateful nation.
Some people wouldn’t want to take the risk. That’s fine. As Grandma Clara used to say, “The many protect the few.” Meaning, as with any vaccination program, they could opt out and still have a low risk of infection because almost everyone around them would already be immune. No judgment. (You selfish assholes.)
If this plan, or anything like it, gets implemented and I don’t get credit, I’m going to be so pissed. Not that I really think it’s original. Didn’t Edward Jenner do this–or something like it–with smallpox?
18 March 2020
All right. I can see some challenges. Like what about kids? I’ve read that kids who get infected don’t seem to get that sick, and I cling to that. But still. I’d want other people’s kids to go first, and I’m pretty sure everyone else would feel the same way.
I just read over my last few days of diary entries, and I can imagine that the cheerful tone I’ve been taking will soon sound pretty off-key. Maybe it already does. I’ve gotten in trouble before when writing about catastrophes. They just don’t seem to bother me that much. But I heard on the BBC World Service that 500 Italians died yesterday. In one day. It’s awful, that’s all.
Today is my day to go into the office. We’re all taking turns. By “we” I mean the lawyers and paralegals. The secretaries and custodians and security guards still have to show up every day. I feel sheepish and grateful, slinking in. What’s more, I have a really good face mask. Teresa had it out in her studio. Most people can’t get masks. And the question is, can I live it down?