Wednesday, August 11, 2021

Kate Hawkesby: Is the vaccine push giving us false hope?


An Emeritus Professor of Medicine and Immunologist is warning Australians to take lockdown more seriously.

I’m watching Australia closely at the moment with this Delta outbreak, because I can’t help thinking we are just one border mishap away from Delta being our problem here too.

And like Australia, we’ll have no choice but to lock down immediately.

Thankfully, we have form here on taking lockdowns seriously, we seemed to oblige willingly the last few times we’ve had them, most Kiwis seemed to get it. But I wonder with the onset of time, whether we’ll get less compliant with lockdowns.

Towards the end of the last Auckland lockdown, people were over it, flouting a few more rules, and it didn’t take us all long to ditch the contact tracing and mask wearing.

So we’ve become complacent.

In Australia, they’re watching what’s happening in America, where fully vaccinated people are still getting infected with Covid. So the message appears to be that while vaccination rates are crucial, so is keeping up certain restrictions around our movement.

And this is the part we may take a while to get our heads around.

In the States, the professor points out the ‘American summer provides a real-time cautionary tale.. Despite having only 50 per cent of the population fully vaccinated, related restrictions were eased prematurely.’ and in ‘Cape Cod, hundreds crowded into the popular holiday area where the virus had a field day.’

Most alarmingly, he says, ‘74 per cent of the infections occurred in fully vaccinated people.’ So, now they're back to even vaccinated people wearing masks, even when they’re inside.

And of course, to maintain social distancing.

So is the vaccination push giving us all false hope?

Vaccination may not be the ticket to freedom we think it is, because what these latest waves of Covid are telling us, is that it's not that simple.

You might not die or get as sick if you’re vaccinated, but it doesn’t mean you can’t still catch it and pass it on.

In Iceland, 86 per cent of the population has been fully vaccinated; their government thought they had the pandemic beat, so they loosened restrictions too. But with Delta seeing case numbers soar, they too have put restrictions back in place. The same goes for Israel.

We are of course way behind on all this, as we don’t even have our vaccination rates up to a suitable level of protection in the first place, but we should be mentally preparing ourselves for the fact that even when we do, it’s not necessarily the cure all.

Even into 2022 and beyond, we may be required to wear masks and social distance. I mean thus far, touch wood; we have somehow, by some sheer miracle, escaped Delta diving into our community. 

But I’m not sure for how long that’ll be the case.

Kate Hawkesby is a political broadcaster on Newstalk ZB - her articles can be seen HERE.

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