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Posted: May 16, 2021

Will COVID be the guest that never leaves?

“Perceptions,” by Gerry Warner

Op-Ed Commentary

We’ve all heard of the Holy Grail. Right?

At least we heard about it before smart phones came along and civilization lost its ability to concentrate or remember the great legends of yore which gave us real superheroes like King Arthur, Sir Lancelot and the fair Guinevere instead of the Hollywood versions of today.

Well, the Holy Grail is back, but we don’t call it the Holy Grail anymore. We call it “herd immunity” and we’re all seeking it because it will supposedly end the ennui most of us are going through because of COVID-19.

I say “supposedly” because there’s little agreement on when we’ll reach that liberating day and all will become sweetness and light again. Personally, I doubt that Great Day will ever come because we’re being punished for our greed, laziness and profligacy.

You may think differently and that’s fine with me.

But first let’s go to the scientists, the Gods of our contemporary civilization, who supply us with “evidence-based truth” which is something akin to Holy Writ and is supposed to end every argument or solve any issue that a deeply polarized world disagrees over. Obviously, we can’t talk to every scientist on this sorry planet, but thanks to technology and the Net, we can obtain a consensus of scientific opinion and that’s what we’ll have to do.

According to a May 11 New York Times article, which is about as up-to-date as you can get, the novel COVID-19 virus, or SARS-CoV-2, as the medical scientists call it, can be reduced, but not eliminated. In other words, we’re stuck with this beast forever, but if we take the proper health measures we can defang the monster but it will always be around to torment – or even kill – us. And we also have a silver bullet to tame Frankenstein, but we’ve got to be willing to use it.

And that silver bullet is vaccination and its sidekick, masking, just like the Lone Ranger and Tonto. (Forgive unwoke me for showing my age and sliding into political incorrectness.)

At one point, it was thought that herd immunity was around 60 or 70% of the population vaccinated with certified COVID-19 mRNA vaccines like Moderna, Pfizer and others. But not anymore if you believe Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, US President Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser. “People were getting confused and thinking you’re never going to get the infections down until you reach this mystical level of herd immunity, whatever that number is,” he says in the Times article. “That’s why we stopped using herd immunity in the classic sense. I’m saying: forget that for a second. If you vaccinate enough people, the infections are going to go down.”

Unfortunately, there are two serious factors mitigating against this scientifically sound advice – vaccination hesitancy which is as high as 30% in the US and considerably less in Canada, but still too high. The other factor is deadly outlier variants like B.1.1.7, first identified in Britain and about 60 percent more infectious than the COVID-19 virus.

These factors could be game changers, and if some of us we don’t change our ways, we’re going to be in trouble. In other words, you can pray to your God at home. You don’t need to go to church – as if God cares. It also isn’t “essential” that you go to the rodeo, flee to a sunny resort on the Maya Riviera or visit Aunt Hazel or cross the border into a different health region of B.C.

Easy to say. Not so easy to do, I admit.

But as I said at the beginning, we Baby Boomers, Generation Xers, Millennials, and any other generation you care to name, have become spoilt, lazy and selfish to a large degree and we’re extremely reluctant to give up our toys and indulgences. We don’t want to change our ways and deep down many of us feel we shouldn’t have to. We want things to stay just as they are – and if we’re lucky or careful – many things will.

But so will COVID.

– Gerry Warner is a retired journalist, and he freely admits, a bit of a nag.

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