A vaccination-only anti-virus strategy

It seems as if the Biden administration intends to rely on vaccines alone to fight the COVID-19 virus.

The official advice is that once you get vaccinated, it’s safe to do anything you want, including spending time unmasked in poorly-ventilated indoor spaces.

That’s wrong.  Even if you’re vaccinated, you can be infected and you can infect others.  Masking, ventilation and other safety measures are still needed.

It’s true that availability of vaccines has dramatically reduced the death rate from COVID.  The chart above, showing waves of COVID infection before and after vaccines were available, indicates this.

Vaccination, however, does not confer 100 percent immunity.  The vaccines stimulate the immune system, so that, if you are infected, you are unlikely to experience symptoms of the disease and even less likely to be hospitalized. 

But they often fail to kill the virus.  You can be vaccinated and symptom-free and still be a spreader of the disease.

I’m in favor of vaccination. I got two shots of the Moderna vaccine as soon as I could, one in March and one in April.  I don’t take that as guaranteeing perfect safety.

It’s going to be a while before I eat a restaurant  meal indoors or watch a movie in a theater.  I may never take an airplane trip again.  I intend to wear a mask any time I am indoors with people I don’t know.

That’s not because I like masks.  I get short of breath when I wear one for a long time.  Everybody looks like they’re either terrorists, robbers or assisting in surgery.  But I can put up with this minor annoyance in order to reduce my own risk and the risk I create for others.

I understand that not everybody is willing to live as I do, or in a position to do so.  I am 84 years old, retired, unmarried, an introvert and a recluse. 

I don’t have to venture out into the world to earn my daily bread, and my temperament makes it easier for me than for most people to do without hugs and kisses.

For various reasons, not everybody in the USA is willing to be vaccinated.  Some think COVID-19 is a hoax.  There is a small, but long-established, anti-vaccine movement in the USA that existed long before COVID-19 emerged.  A higher percentage of African-Americans are skeptical of vaccinations than are other American ethnic groups.

It is true that approval of vaccinations was rushed because of the emergency.  I can understand people who think the benefit of vaccination is outweighed by the cost of taking a day off from work, and maybe a couple more days because of the side effects.

Vaccinations are not always easy or convenient to get.  If I were in charge, I’d try to set up a system of vaccination on demand.  People who want to be vaccinated would be able to phone a service any time and get vaccinated at home, as conveniently as sending out for pizza.

As time goes on, there should be newer and better vaccines and better acceptance of vaccines, as well as more open-mindedness about non-patented treatments.

But if we Americans as a nation depend on vaccinations to keep us safe, and large numbers are unvaccinated, and the vaccinated don’t get perfect protection, especially against new variants, where does that leave us?

We don’t know the impact of the Delta variant and other variants of the COVID-19 virus.  The impact could be small, but it is dangerous to assume it will be, the way Trump administration assumed the impact of the original COVID-19 virus would be small.

Masking indoors can give an extra layer of protection.  We now know that good ventilation is crucial.  Working at home is still a good idea when feasible.  Vaccination is good, but it is dangerous to put our entire trust in vaccines. 


The Delta Variant Thrives In a State of Political and Public Health Discord by Lauren Weber for Kaiser Health News.

Delta variant risk for vaccinated: the real COVID “breakthrough” cases by Susan Matthews for Slate.

Unvaccinated Is DIfferent From Anti-Vax by Ed Yong for The Atlantic [added later]

Officials Double Down on “Let Her Rip” Strategy, Placing Undue Faith in Vaccines as Regions With High Vaccination Rates Suffer Infection Spike by Yves Smith for Naked Capitalism.  [Added 10/19/2021]

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2 Responses to “A vaccination-only anti-virus strategy”

  1. Fred (Au Natural) Says:

    We’re obviously never going to kill this thing. Bad enough that most of the world is not vaccinated but half our own population is resisting it.

    I’m starting to think in Darwinian terms. Those who are smart enough to get vaccinated or are naturally resistant will have a survival advantage over those who are neither. When I get in that mode, I stop caring about the people in the COVID wards gasping on ventilators. You did it to yourself. Welcome to the natural world.

    The pandemic will never end but hopefully it will subside into something like influenza where every now and then a booster shot to give extra protection against the latest variants.


  2. VAlurker Says:

    It’s important to realize that correlation does not demonstrate causation and understand what the numbers do and don’t tell you. In the absence of data showing the number of infected vaccinated people in the 3d wave, this graph could also show that treatment protocols have improved, that the variant causing the 3d wave is less lethal, or some combination of those and other factors.

    I’ve spent a fair amount of time perusing CoVID numbers and studies, which show that masks are at best almost completely useless and that, in spite of Fred’s desire to see people he doesn’t like die horrible deaths gasping on ventilators, the vast majority (98+%) of people who catch CoVID will recover and gain some useful immunity in the process. They also show that for someone in their 80’s like yourself, CoVID is a genuine threat and that your strategy, especially avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated spaces, is sensible and effective. Vaccination, of course, also helps.


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