An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.
THERE’S NEW EVIDENCE that our most vulnerable may have to pay a steep price for the relaxation of pandemic mandates.
Published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, a study by the University of Toronto used modelling to discover that vaccinated people act as a buffer for the unvaccinated. However, when the two are in contact, risk to the vaccinated is driven up disproportionately.
Various scenarios within the study are complex but the conclusions are clear: public-health mandates work, while leaving it up to individuals to protect themselves as best they can creates an environment for spread.
To put it another way, the study confirms that we’re all in this together, and that the measures we take as individuals protect the whole. Not surprisingly, those put in harm’s way by the relaxing of restrictions are most likely to be those who can least cope with it.
As one scientist put it, “… The more you give back freedom to those of us who are young and able-bodied and can cope well with infection and can get vaccinated, the more we’re creating a society that is unsafe for the most vulnerable, the elderly, those with co-morbidities, immunocompromised, those who can’t be vaccinated for medical reasons, young children.”
The study certainly brings into question the current approach to the loosening of mandates, especially in B.C where the mask mandate, the vaccination card and restrictions on meetings have all been relaxed.
As just one example, many public bodies have shelved earlier policies requiring all members who attend in-person meetings to be vaccinated. The new study seems to suggest the move might have been hasty.
The bottom line is, we’re rolling the dice on COVID, gambling that putting the economy and personal “freedoms” first won’t result in a dramatic new surge and that the health-care system can handle it. But with signs that transmission is once again on the rise, those most at risk may pay dearly.
Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops and a retired newspaper editor. He is a regular contributor to CFJC Today, publishes the ArmchairMayor.ca opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.