Helen Bramwell of StatNews is an excellent writer about public health. Here she interviews a bunch of scientists to ask what surprised them about Covid19. It's a long read, and I won't try to summarize it all, but a couple of points stand out.
The first is that most experts originally thought, based on experience with other coronaviruses, that this one would be stable -- that it would not be able to mutate so as to avoid immunity from previous infections or vaccination. Therefore they believed that the pandemic would peak after a few months and we'd enter an endemic phase. (You might remember those models from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation showing a tapering off of new infections within a few months, at a time when no vaccine was available. They ought to be embarrassed but of course they aren't.) This turned out not to be true, On the contrary, this virus has an exceptional capacity to evolve and evade immunity. It's like influenza in this regard but unfortunately it's also more virulent, i.e. it has a greater likelihood of causing severe disease and death, and it can also cause long term disability. So it's definitely a bummer..
The second is better news. The experts were surprised by how quickly effective vaccines were developed, and how many of them were successful. No, even the best of them aren't highly effective at preventing infection and transmission, but they are very effective at preventing severe disease. I would add on my own behalf that to the extent they do reduce infection and transmission, they'd be a lot more effective if everybody would get vaccinated and boosted. The boosted part is important because it turns out that effectiveness against infection fades after a few months, and of course a booster tailored to the strains that are currently circulating is also going to help. So again, this is analogous to influenza. You need a new shot every year for flu, and probably more often for Covid-19, which sadly not a lot of people are getting. On the other hand the Covid-19 vaccine, when up to date, is actually more effective than most annual flu vaccines.
So, obviously, the disinformation that a lot of right wing pundits and politicians are spreading about this is just criminal. It amounts to mass murder, in fact. I know it's a pain to keep going for shots every few months but it should be considered a social responsibility -- not something you do only for yourself, although it certainly will benefit you, but an obligation you owe to your family, neighbors and coworkers. As for masking, people who are immunocompromised or just don't find it particularly irksome should certainly do it, and nobody should be embarrassed about it. It obviously doesn't hurt anybody and it does some good. We're going to have to live with this, probably for the rest of our lives, so we just need to deal with it like we deal with every other hassle in life, be it bad weather or automobile maintenance or safe food handling or taking out the trash or doing the laundry. It's just part of stayin' alive.