Category: public official

Is There Light at the End of the Omicron Tunnel?

I wish all my readers a happy, healthy 2022.

New knowledge of Covid-19 often suggests new policies that contradict existing policies. A prime example is the early advice not to wear masks, soon reversed to make masks mandatory. Many journalists called this an illogical flip flop, while others praised it for basing action on the latest and best knowledge.  It now appears that despite, or maybe because of the omicron variant we are close to the limit of public tolerance for lockdowns and other such coercive policies.

Wearing masks and social distancing are still required.  Masking may be somewhat helpful, but of limited value in avoiding infection because most people wear cheap, leaky masks and often ignore social distancing in busy places like grocery stores, or among the 10,000 cheering spectators at a recent Toronto basketball game.

We now know that infection is transmitted not only by visible droplets but also through invisible aerosols, exhaled for up to 27 feet, even by talking and laughing. These aerosols can float in indoor air and be circulated by heating and AC systems. Thus, 6 feet of distance sporadically observed, with the typical loose masks, may be as much a symbolic gesture as highly effective infection prevention. But it is still popular to insist that responsible citizens must exhibit their concern for the safety of others by masking and social distancing, and, of course, by full vaccination of the remaining unvaccinated.

I personally comply with the masking and social distancing guidelines for whatever benefit they may provide. I am also not opposed to getting vaccinated if it makes sense for the person to do so. At my age and medical condition it made sense for me to get two shots and a booster as soon as they became available. But I am not you, and your situation may differ.

Should Vaccination Be Coerced?

Full vaccination is now required, even if you have had the virus, recovered, and now have stronger natural immunity than the vaccine can provide. Why, for the naturally immune? This coercion is not based on current medical knowledge but on collective moral symbolism.  We have a duty to be good citizens, so prove your goodness by getting vaccinated, whether you need it or not.

It is one thing for government officials to recommend that every adult should have two jabs plus boosters. It is quite another to require it, as a necessary condition for admission to work, university or other important places.  We now know that vaccination doesn’t prevent either being infected or transmitting infections. However, it can reduce the severity of illness of those infected who are not asymptomatic. 

In response to the question “What’s in it for me to be vaccinated?” the answer is clear. If I become infected I’m less likely to become severely ill or to die.  In response to the question “What’s in it for society if I am vaccinated?” the answer is less clear. 

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