A scan around the world shows nothing is going to be easy if we are to live with Covid 19.
- Fully vaccinated people can still get Covid and transmit it.
- But vaccinated people will get it less severely and are much less likely to die.
- Vaccine effectiveness will dwindle over time and vaccination will become a way of life, probably annual.
- Getting the infection fosters a natural immunity, but it is not lasting.
- People who are not vaccinated and live in a nation where Covid 19 is endemic can expect to catch the virus around every 16 months, although many reinfections are much quicker.
- People who have been infected and vaccinated have a slightly higher level of immunity than others, but it still wanes fairly quickly.
- There are already potentially more infectious and fast-moving variants than Delta (including one called Delta-plus) and these will continue to emerge.
- The virus seems to love winter, and case numbers are soaring in northern countries even where vaccination rates are very high. The UK is on 45,000 cases per day, with 3,500 deaths in the past month, with about the same level of vaccination as NZ.
- Summer may therefore give us a welcome respite – the calm before the storm.
- Humanity is going to have to live with Covid for the long term. It’s not going to go away.
- It is a very serious and deadly illness that can only be partially mitigated by vaccination – but that vaccination, accompanied by simple public health measures, is the best protection for all of us currently.
I did this scan initially to try and work out my own position on the vexed question of compulsory vaccinations for workers. Is this a terrible breach of human rights or is it a case of saving them from themselves?
The trouble with leaving people unvaccinated and expecting that nature will take its course – they will get the virus and either die or come out the other end (possibly after a degrading stint in hospital) with a moderate immunity – is now revealed.
We are going to have to live with Covid forever. Not just next week, month or year. Our health system will not be able to cope with the levels of sickness we will have opening up.
We have a responsibility to all of us to reduce the burden as much as possible. This means compulsory vaccination for all, masks when infection rates are high and working from home as needed.
We will still need to treat non-vaccinated people who get sick as our duty of care does not end because a person acts foolishly.
I like the National Party’s S100 bonus. But it needs to be annual – each year a jab or two and $100. I heard it calculated at $4 billion, but that’s not right: $100 for each of 5,000,000 is only $500 million! Cheap as chips. Someone got a naught wrong. Naughty!
And yes, vaccine passports. I can see we need them. Paper or app. Let’s gear up for the long haul.
Dr Liz Gordon is a researcher and a barrister, with interests in destroying neo-liberalism in all its forms and moving towards a socially just society. She usually blogs on justice, social welfare and education topics.