Yes, We Should Have Seen This Coming

In fact, many of us did

Tara Haelle
9 min readJan 6, 2022


Cassandra (1885) by Anthony Frederick Augustus Sandys (1829–1904)

After ignoring as much of the news as I could during the week between Christmas and New Year’s, I finally began to catch up on articles in the various email newsletters I received during that week. Quite a few were of the “what we’ve learned” or “where we are in the pandemic so far” and “looking ahead at what’s to come” type that are typical around the start of a new year. But I noticed a trend that annoyed me, then irked me, then outright pissed me off.

And so, as one does these days when pissed off, I took it to Twitter. Instead of planning out a thread, I just ranted, not knowing when I’d wrap it up or what all I’d say. To my surprise, the thread — which included plenty of things I’ve been saying and tweeting for two years now in various places or sprinkled throughout my social media — took off. I appear to have struck a nerve, and several folks asked me to write it up in essay form so it could be shared.

Ideally, I’d craft a more thoughtful, thorough essay that’s fleshed out a bit more when writing about this, but I suspect there’s something about the rawness and spontaneity of my thread that contributed to the reactions I received. And so, I’ve simply recreated the thread here, removing Twitter shorthand to make it more readable and embedding links. I’ve also added some commentary in between to add context in case it’s helpful, and I’ll follow up with more thoughts soon based on questions and responses.

I’m currently reading my fifth or sixth article today that includes in it some form of looking back on the pandemic and its lessons. *Every* *single* *one* includes a variation of one or more of the following from scientists, public health agency heads, journalists, etc.:

—“I didn’t expect so much public loss of trust”

—“I didn’t expect political leaders to eschew public health advice bc of ratings/donors/etc”

—“I didn’t expect big swaths of public opposition to vaccines/masks/etc”

—“I didn’t expect people to ignore public health recommendations”

(I’m not going to share which articles I read because it’s not really relevant. These themes have appeared again and again in countless articles.)



Tara Haelle

Tara Haelle is a science journalist, public speaker, and author of Vaccination Investigation and The Informed Parent. Follow her at @tarahaelle.