by Dr. Derek Jeffers
The concept of rethinking our strategy to deal with Corona Virus infection and COVID-19 is nothing new. However, one must be clear in their understanding and clear in the solutions put forward. Identifying a problem is easy, finding and putting into effect workable solutions is totally different.
One must first understand and grasp the issue to find solutions. This is not just a problem of the disease COVID-19 but more so an issue with the spread or transmission of the organism (SARS Co-V 2) that causes the infection. We can have a situation of zero persons in hospital with COVID-19 but a massive disruption to the economy or country due to numerous persons infected with the organism, requiring isolation and those who they had exposed requiring to be in quarantine.
Over the last 18 months our knowledge of both the Virus and the Disease has increased significantly. Add to that the information obtained since the start of the vaccination process.
Below are some of the basic steps:
1)Exposure to the virus results in the possibility of getting infected. If you get infected you can get symptoms. THE VIRUS CAN BE SPREAD THROUGH THE AIR WE BREATHE IN ADDITION TO SOMEONE SNEEZING AND COUGHING AROUND US.
2)Prior to exhibiting symptoms and while you are having symptoms you may shed virus into the atmosphere around you, putting others at risk of inhaling those viral particles, hence getting exposed and possibly infected.
3)Depending on how your immune system responds to the infection you can quickly recover from your infection or you can develop an “atypical pneumonia” plus other complications throughout your body; together these are referred to the as the medical condition call COVOD-19.
We are all aware of the non-pharmaceutical methods to prevent infection and spread of the virus. These are part of what is referred to as Primary Health Care techniques.
Prevent exposure (wear a mask, wash hands, keep distance from persons who may or may not have symptoms, if one have symptoms or know that they were exposed to someone who tested positive they should quarantine for 14 days and during that time be tested to see if their exposure caused them to be infected)
The development of vaccines has provided a major weapon in the Primary Health Care techniques. The early evidence from the studies convincingly proved that vaccinations produced two major effects:
1) Significantly reduced the chance of the infected person getting serious ill with COVID-19 requiring hospitalization and hence putting a serious strain on the Secondary health care resources of a country.
2)Reduced the chance of an infected person dying to less than 1%.
The evidence is now accumulating that these vaccines also do what traditional vaccines do: PREVENT PERSONS FROM GETTING INFECTED AND EVEN IF THEY DO HAVE BREAK THROUGH INFECTION THEY VERY RARELY SPREAD THE INFECTION TO OTHERS, ESPECIALLY OTHER VACCINATED PERSONS DUE TO A MASSIVE REDUCTION IN THE AMOUNT OF VIRUS THEY EXCRETE INTO THE ATMOSPHERE AROUND THEM.
None of us is perfect and hence nothing that we create will be perfect. Most countries are run by a majority of less than 60%. In SKN its even less than 55%. We presently have over 65% of eligible persons having had the 1st dose of the vaccine and over 50% the second dose. Why not then let that majority be the driving force to move the country forward? If a preventative method has been shown to offer 99% protection from death what more should be done other than providing that information? Bribery? Reward? Lotto? Piece of land?
THE WAY FORWARD
Government has provided free access to the second line of Primary Health Care defense, VACCINATION!
Members of the Private Sector now need to determine how they should run their businesses.
Create an environment that is safe for everyone. The virus is highly unlikely to spread among vaccinated persons. The CDC recommendation a few weeks ago was that vaccinated persons don’t need to wear masks, even indoors. The advent of the vaccine should not cause us to abandon the basic non-pharmaceutical methods. But without confirming who is vaccinated how can one determine whether to wear a mask. Vaccination certificates or cards that we presently have in SKN.
Cinemas- movie nights only for the fully vaccinated, full capacity. Nights for the unvaccinated at 25-30% to facilitate social distancing. Might even require higher prices.
Restaurants – dine in only vaccinated, unvaccinated pickup.
Supermarket – Shopping days specially for the fully vaccinated.
Entertainment or sporting functions – entrance only to the vaccinated.
We cannot always depend on the government to lead the way, they have provided the vaccine. Its time for us to assist them in getting the country moving again. The majority of vaccinated persons must lead the way just like in any democratic environment.