We are in this pandemic for the long haul
By Alexis Zygan, Staff Writer
Skepticism to some extent is healthy, but the Canadian government wouldn’t approve a vaccine that has adverse side effects.
Canadians are holding out hope for herd immunity as the solution to getting our lives back to normal. Herd immunity (also known as community immunity) is when 60 to 80 percent of the population is immune to a specific disease (the percentage varies depending on which doctor you ask). The logic behind herd immunity is that once enough people are resistant, the virus cannot spread. According to data from a Pfizer-Biotech and Moderna study, vaccines are 90 percent effective at preventing the virus for a span of six months. Although, a person can still spread COVID after receiving both dosages of the vaccine and not everyone is eligible or wants to receive the vaccination. In a media briefing to CBC, Dr. Soumya Swaminathan said that it was critical that countries maintain social distancing and outbreak control measures for the foreseeable future.
We are now entering the third wave of the pandemic and nine in ten Canadians feel burnt out. The newest P.1 variant led to an outbreak at Whistler Ski lodge, forcing the facility to shut down. Unlike other variants, the highly contagious P.1 has been said to impact people between the ages of 20 and 39. There is speculation that the P.1 variant, first seen in Brazil and South Africa may be resistant to existing Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. Thankfully, people between the ages of 20 and 39 have a higher recovery rate than their elderly cohorts. However, this brings up one of the hurdles to achieving herd immunity: young people are receiving their vaccinations last. There is also no approved vaccine for teenagers below 16-years old. According to the CDC, youth can still get infected with the virus and transfer it to others, such as their parents or teachers.
Another obstacle to herd immunity are anti-vaxxers, people who are skeptical about the vaccine, or think COVID is a hoax. You may have seen these people congregating at the city centre protesting the new-normal and indoor mask regulations claiming an infringement on their human rights. Pre-COVID, anti-vax ideologies were already on the rise, which some believe caused an outbreak of measles in 2019. I think if enough people refuse to get the vaccine, then achieving herd immunity will be near impossible.
Skepticism to some extent is healthy, but the Canadian government wouldn’t approve a vaccine that has adverse side effects. Before administering to the public, Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna went through rigorous testing to ensure their safety. Although the scientists who developed AstraZeneca at the University of Oxford received criticism for lack of transparency and risk of blood clots, the AstraZeneca vaccine is said to have a far smaller risk of blood clots than contraceptive birth control. And birth control is still widely prescribed by doctors and taken by people as a preventive measure for pregnancy.
Many Canadians are wondering when we will be able to hug our loves ones or visit friends living in other countries, and at this point it’s hard to say. We are in it for the long haul and need to continue maintaining social distancing measures until at least 2022.