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What you need to know about COVID-19: August 7, 2020
If you’re a diehard anti-vaxxer, stop now. Perusing this will just be a waste of time. And it will undoubtedly vex you. You don’t need the aggravation. Just assume it’s part of the “conspiracy,” OK?
Everyone else, please carry on reading.
As has been widely reported, multiple, government-funded efforts to quickly and safely develop an effective COVID-19 vaccine are ongoing worldwide.
There are more than 150 separate vaccine projects — at various stages of development — now underway globally. Some are even starting human trials this summer.
The most optimistic scenarios envisage approval, and even a limited number of shots being available, perhaps by year’s end.
Yes, it’s happening faster than normal. But these aren’t normal times.
Thousands of scientists, fuelled by extraordinary levels of government funding, have been able to focus on finding a vaccine for this single, specific virus.
Here in Atlantic Canada, it feels like we’re in a bubble in more ways than one. Until a couple of new cases emerged this week in Nova Scotia, the region (except for New Brunswick, where three cases are still in recovery) had been free of any active cases for a while.
Atlantic Canada has done an excellent job of crushing COVID’s infection curve. So we’re feeling relatively safe in our little corner of the world.
But news from places like Brazil and the southern U.S. — where rising daily numbers of new cases have recently been breaking records — shows there’s still plenty of storm outside a-raging.
If we’re going to reopen fully to the rest of the world, we’ll want to believe the virus can’t hurt us.
There are only three ways that might happen.
First, best-case scenario, the virus mutates itself into oblivion and disappears, or at least becomes less dangerous and/or far less prevalent. Obviously, that’s not a strategy, just a wistful hope.
Second, scientists develop effective medicines that can quickly treat anyone infected and restore them to health. Not a perfect solution, as people would still get sick, sometimes very sick, and we’d still worry about catching it, but clearly better than not having such treatments.
Third, we develop a vaccine that prevents, or greatly diminishes, coronavirus infection. That’s our best bet to get back to “normal.”
As I mentioned, research — using up-to-date knowledge and modern technologies — is progressing at lightning speed. But scientists warn that even if all goes well, mass vaccination programs with an effective, safe vaccine almost certainly won’t be available until, at the earliest, sometime in 2021.
It could easily take longer.
There’s another concern. Health experts worry that anti-vaxxers are already working overtime, using misinformation and scare tactics, to discredit potential COVID-19 vaccines. Unless authorities build public trust in vaccine efforts now, experts say, a much larger group of “vaccine-hesitant” individuals may doubt the safety of a successful candidate, diminishing its value if not enough people get immunized.
That would be a tragedy. Bottom line: Don’t let the anti-vaxxers screw this up.
Now, for those diehard anti-vaxxers who got this far, I warned you you’d be vexxed. You didn’t listen. Then again, what else is new?