The logic of the day has shifted. It used to be: as long as I don’t get swept into a crowd outside of my “quaranteam,” I won’t get ‘rona. Now, as the vaccine continues to roll out, it’s increasingly, “Oh, don’t worry. I’m vaccinated.” A shrugging brush-off that indicates, “It’s no big deal, come as close to me as you want, touch me all over with your unwashed hands, etc.” It’s as though people truly do believe that the vaccine is somehow tantamount to Superman donning his cape. That the Clark Kent weaknesses of the collective’s immune system in 2020 is nothing but a distant memory now that so many guts have been pumped full of vaccine (in addition to lead—that’s a Home Alone reference, if you couldn’t gather).
But oh, how could they all be so naïve? Are we that convinced by the “placebo effect” when reality presents such an antithetical portrait to what’s actually going on? That in making the people (often of privilege, when they’re not those with “underlying conditions”) allowed the shots in their arms more asymptomatic, it would only pose a still great risk to those who had yet to be vaccinated. A genetic sequence that fucked with the world, SARS-CoV-2 isn’t done. One gets the sense that he’s somehow only just getting started. That’s the theory Dr. Juliana Eden was developing when the first major resurgence was quietly taking shape. She was just wrapping up a lecture (on Zoom, naturally) about how, although the vaccine is an integral part of helping to stave off the pandemic status of the virus, it is still extremely paramount that the populations continue to act in accordance with distancing and mask-wearing measures. That just because the drug companies have managed to incorporate one more additional means of protection (solely for the benefit of their own bank accounts, mind you) does not infer we should all automatically go “buck wild” as though everything is back to pre-2020 times.
Yet the language Juliana had been overhearing of late was becoming of great concern. Causing an extensive sense of alarm to her, for so many seemed to believe that just because there was this glimmer of hope and help—touted as the end all, be all of solutions—it was assumed the virus would magically vanish. Instead, all the vaccine ended up doing was spurring those with the “antidote” inside of them to muck about too fast, too soon. They were moving about the proverbial cabin as though everyone else in it was also vaccinated. As though there weren’t plenty of others still at risk. But with the excuse of citing “COVID fatigue,” who could be held responsible for adhering to the so-called “rules” anymore?
At a coffee shop near her house that Juliana went into after her lecture—upon arbitrarily driving by and seeing that it had reopened—she donned a plastic glove and opened the door. She had no intention of staying inside for longer than necessary and was under no assumption that the place was even offering a “dine-in” option. To her horror, entrance into the café found her bombarded with a patent case of why American “exceptionalism” is so vexing. Because yes, it turned out the coffee shop was fully open and filled with the sight of masks off everywhere. Indeed, it seemed as though Juliana was the only person wearing one. Meanwhile, in the corner, a gaggle of hens were prattling on about, essentially, how “awesome” life was now that things were “back to normal.” Were they? Back to normal? Because it didn’t seem like the mass unemployed and homeless got the memo. Are they “back to normal?” Is this the “new normal”? Just turning a blind eye ever-increasingly to the fact that what natural selection amounts to is: he who miraculously has the money (usually via being born into it) to survive will do so, and everyone else will be systematically weeded out by their poverty. Or not being vaccinated in time to compete with the arseholes who still continue to spread the disease despite their claims of, “Oh, don’t worry. I’m vaccinated.” It was enough to make Juliana want to scream back, “And I’m fucking worried, okay? About your brain’s ability to compartmentalize selfishness, among other issues.” But she didn’t, of course. For even though we had dispensed with all other aspects of humanity by now, the one thing still somehow left intact was “decorum.” Never say what you really feel or mean, least of all to a stranger.
In any case, what Juliana overheard was this woman at the coffee shop bragging to her friends about how she had gotten her first shot a week ago, so she was practically “all good” (and soon to be on her way to a trip in Hawaii). All good for what? To reap the benefits of diminished symptoms that could still be spread to others while she mucked about in the coffee joint half-vaccinated? What a fucking ignorant twat. It took every shred of restraint in Juliana’s body to keep herself from throwing her freshly poured coffee right into the woman’s face. She was the type of “gal” you could picture being on The Real Housewives of Something or Other. When she laughed, she opened her mouth like some kind of snickering monkey. Juliana wanted that maw to stay ajar long enough to be infected with the B.1.351 or P1 variants and then see if this broad was still fucking giggling afterward. For that was another thing no one seemed to take into account—that the South African and Brazilian strains were still very much at large and less prone to being “taken down” by a vaccine.
Even for the “standard” strain, Juliana felt that the “acceptable level of toxicity” in the vaccine was a little too acceptable due to the rushed nature of how it was tested, processed and slapped onto the market. There was this lingering fear inside of her that the pharmaceutical fat cats (one in particular) were anticipating a major fallout at some point down the line in ensuring a clause for the vaccine’s use—sanctioned by the U.S.’ own Secretary of Health and Human Services. It stated that these companies shall not be subject to “liability claims alleging negligence by a manufacturer in creating a vaccine, or negligence by a health care provider in prescribing the wrong dose, absent willful misconduct.” Even if the offerings appear to be janker in Europe, at least there the public is “permitted” to pursue liability claims. Which is, in part, Juliana speculated, why the rollout was going so slowly. None of these manufacturers wanted to deal with any angry Europeans (least of all zee Germans or gli italiani). So they chose not to deal with them at all.
Meanwhile, this Coffee Shop Cunt laughed and laughed, oblivious to her vaccine colonialism. Part of a nation that was, from the start, determined to monopolize the industry. Case in point, the U.S.’ “undercover” machinations in South America once again rearing their ugly head when it wielded influence against Brazil securing doses of the Russian vaccine—the illustrious Sputnik V. That the U.S. accounted for forty percent of vaccine development activity in comparison to Europe’s twenty-six percent, Asia and Australia’s thirty percent and “a few projects” (so infinitesimal that it can’t even be quantified into a percentage) in Africa and South America was also instantly telling of where this was all headed. Yes, the next logical progression was bound to be that the U.S.—comprising part of that fourteen percent of the global population’s wealthy countries—would be among the colonialist pillaging types to “pre-order” fifty-one percent of the doses before the vaccine was even released. In fact, agreeing to purchase more doses than would be needed to vaccinate their entire population. So yeah, the Coffee Shop Cunt was further causing Juliana’s anger to flare up.
Although she had gotten into health care because she wanted to make people feel better, it turned out that spending much of your career trying to help them only turned you into a misanthrope. Which is how she started “falling off” in the field even before COVID hit. It was after it struck, however, that she decided to start following the vaccine development that was going on. She conducted her research peripherally, hearing things from colleagues, and colleagues of colleagues. What was more exasperating, she learned upon the vaccine’s unleashing, was the public mentality in the First World. All of them skipping about happily and jumping for joy like in some commercial from the 1950s for something innocuous like dish soap. None of them seeming to account for what Fauci (whose asshole they were all up in for so long) warned of in announcing, “We have to get the entire world vaccinated, not just our own country.” And why? Because if a large bulk of this ship is rotting, then we’re all going to sink anyway (since celebrities are so fond of using the “We’re all in the same boat” adage). Thus, allowing vaccine distribution to languish in other countries that are somehow viewed as “lesser” or “inconsequential” will only result in letting more mutations that are resistant to the vaccine thrive—so much that they make their way right on over to the “good ol’” US and A (to quote Borat) once again. And ain’t no “vaccine passport” implementation gon’ stop it. The virus hides, dormant, inside of us when it wants to.
As the indication of symptoms becomes mitigated among the richies in the “(Me) First World,” they’re sure to be in for a rude awakening later on. The asymptomatics are the most infectious of all. The Coffee Shop Cunt could be asymptomatic for all she knows. But what the fuck does she care? She’s been made to believe she’s “done her part” now. That with this injection she can stop “suffering” with the mask-wearing and the excessive hand washing and the social distancing. How goddamn misguided. Yet Juliana knew that even if she could tout her message on every screen in the land, no one would listen. That to tell them they were still very capable of spreading infection without continuing to mind the same preventive tenets espoused in 2020 would only result in an eye roll or a shrug. No one “cared” anymore. They had decided “that narrative” needed to be over, regardless of whether it was still ongoing or not.
Juliana walked out of the place with her blood boiling far more than the temperature of the coffee, which she had practically spilled most of while squeezing the cup as a way to suppress her rage, causing the liquid to spew out through the lid as much as she wanted to out of her mind. She was due back to her house in an hour to give another talk on Zoom. One that would likely be met with more blank stares and repressed titters. Everyone thought she was a quack, pontificating about paranoid bullshit. But Juliana knew better. She knew the truth. That only a few months from now, no one would be cheerily asserting, “Oh, don’t worry. I’m vaccinated.”