The importance of reiterating the Covid-19 message

  Posted: 11.01.21 at 07:50 by Alastair McCraw

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This is the one subject which dominates all our lives for the foreseeable future. Dealing with it is the task of our generation. By that, I mean all of us without exception, as individuals, as groups, and as a society. We carry the responsibility daily, not just for ourselves and our loved ones but for everybody else too because that in turn protects us too. We’re truly interconnected.

The virus, as I write, continues to spread. There is no comfort in having a lower rate of infection or fewer cases than the average. None of the rates, none of the deaths are good. It’s truly a miracle that our health and other services have been able to cope so far. Now they really approach a breaking point.

Let’s be realistic. Some people are spreading the virus, possibly without having any idea of doing so. I don’t demonise them for being human, but I would remind them that everybody they know will be affected, as will everybody they meet. Act like you’ve got it for now. You won’t go far wrong.

All the standard rules (Hands, Face, Space) still apply. As the vaccine rolls out, things will improve. That roll out practically will be slower than the spread of the virus can be. We have the power to slow that spread. ONLY we have that power.

Mankind has understood the existence of plagues for thousands of years. We’ve learnt practical measures to deal with epidemics and pandemics over the centuries. For hundreds of years, we’ve realised the idea of Public Health and its importance to society itself. We have carried out the practice of vaccination for two hundred years.

Increasingly, we’ve been able to identify the microbes and bacteria that can transmit disease. We’ve developed tools to treat and defeat those diseases, particularly in the last hundred years. In my own lifetime, the closely related sciences of microbiology, biochemistry and virology have advanced to the point that tasks that once took years, can be performed in hours, or even minutes. That acceleration has been even faster in the last five to ten years. Almost revolutionary work has been done, maybe too fast for many to even appreciate. To the point where truly effective vaccines can be developed within a single year.

To try to deny any aspect of this shared history, scientific understanding, and experience of mankind, is truly perverse. That experience cost many, many millions of lives. That deserves respect, as does the science itself. We have seen a recent example of what can happen when a group of people decide to choose their OWN truth only, in the face of all the evidence, precedent and consensus. Put simply, people can die.

Vaccines are considered usefully effective if they are both safe and have effectiveness of over 50%. So, the difference between effectiveness at over 70% or over 90% isn’t really the point. It’s getting the vaccine out there, in us, to as many as possible as fast as possible. Reducing the symptoms to a non-lethal level is a massive bonus in itself. Minimal side effects can only be better that the disease itself and Covid-19 is a VERY nasty disease indeed at its worst.

Sadly, many of you will now personally know somebody who has had a serious, or even fatal, experience. So, have the vaccine when it’s offered. Remember it doesn’t take full effect for three weeks. It will become even more effective after the second shot, but the more people have the crucial first shot, the safer we are overall. That first shot is the one that will count most.

In time we will all be able to be vaccinated. Until then we are going to need to continue to be very careful. A previous generation endured the Second World War and the necessary changes to daily life. We can do the same, for a shorter time.

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