Vaccines are the new status symbol. Friends around Vancouver Island have been sending out tweets and Facebook posts boasting they’ve had the Pfizer or the Astra Zeneca jab and some say they’ve had a celebration glass of bubbly too. A little like winning a lottery.
It’s a nice counterpoint to the continuing doom and gloom on the Covid front, where provinces across the country is struggling to contain numbers while new variants keep raising their worrying heads and we’re being told to travel less and less, and the federal government mulls banning more flights from problem nations.
More vaccines are on their way in B.C. and across the country, and it’s high time we started to catch up – certainly with the UK – which as of Wednesday had given a first vaccine to at least half its population and the United States, which is at 40 per cent – these figures from The New York Times which is tracking vaccines around the world every day.
We have vaccinated 25 per cent of the population in Canada, which to be fair is still ahead of Spain, Denmark, Germany, Italy, Norway, France, Sweden, Romania, Mexico, Brazil, Peru, Malaysia and a whole slew of other countries.
We’re also way ahead of COVID-success nations Australia and New Zealand, which are doing well because they go into mega-lockdown if there’s even one case reported in a community. They acted swiftly. And they’re also both island nations, away from the rest of the world. But they’re way down the list on those vaccinated.
Many nations have hardly vaccinated any of their citizens – Syria, Cameroon, Armenia, Algeria and Egypt, for instance. Meaning that, yes, some countries will likely have vaccinated all or most of their adults by the end of this year but it will be a long time before there is free movement around the planet. Canada still has a long, long way to go. The Washington Post today carries an embarrassing story comparing the U.S. and Canadian response to the pandemic. We were gloating last year about how well we were doing. Now, thanks to major supply problems, we’re the poor neighbours. The headline is ‘Frustrated’ Canadians get hit hard by pandemic as a flood of Americans get vaccinated. It talks of dual citizens getting their shots south of the border and wonders why the United States isn’t doing more to share with its northern neighbour.
Like most of the COVID story, it’s good news here, bad news there. One step forward, two back. Finger-pointing. Appeals for understanding and calm. There’s no nice, neat continuum of healing here, but starts and stutters, some successes, some setbacks. More than a year after we learned of the coronavirus, we’re still struggling – socially, politically, economically, psychologically – to deal with it. Our freedoms have been curtailed. And then given back to us – carefully. And snatched back if the numbers go crazy again. I do have sympathy with various governments as they struggle to manage the pandemic and its various manifestations. Yes, we’re getting bored and frustrated, we’re impatient to get back to normal, but it’s tough to balance freedom and containment of the virus.
A year ago we thought this might last, at most, a few months. Then a few months more. Now we know we’re in it for the long haul. Everyone wants an end date. But only a fool would predict one. But the vaccine is the best news of all….and today in England it was reported that there were only a handful of hospitalizations of people who had been vaccinated just once but still been infected by the virus. Meaning COVID had been, for the vast majority of people, reduced to low-level symptoms.
Even the Astra Zeneca vaccine, which got a bad rap for blood clotting, yet is likely saving tens of thousands of lives – is helping speed global recovery.
As more of us get vaccinated and celebrate the fact, the number of infections should drop steadily, as they have in The U.K. and the U.S.
But the world is still a long, long way from normal.
Time. Patience And Hope are our friends. And the vaccines.
When you get yours, I’d post it on Instagram, or FaceBook or Twitter or wherever you want. Or simply phone a friend. It’s a big deal. And treat yourself to a tipple of whatever you fancy.
Ian Haysom is consulting editor with CHEK Media.