Pay attention people! And spread this news
Ontarians need to ask themselves if shunning and demonizing the unvaccinated still makes sense. There was a time when excluding them from what now passes for normal life seemed to offer a benefit, but the COVID situation has evolved. It’s time for our thinking to change, too.
The discussion about the unvaccinated has mostly involved their rights versus those of the vaccinated majority. The more practical question is what real value remains in excluding the unvaccinated from activities allowed for everyone else.
The Omicron variant and the quick waning of vaccination protection have changed the game. When vaccines were first introduced, they were touted as offering remarkably high protection against COVID infection. People with two shots felt pretty much invulnerable and were rewarded for their socially responsible behaviour by being allowed to eat in restaurants, attend sports events and go to the gym.
The idea that the fully vaccinated could catch the disease or transmit it wasn’t ruled out, but it was portrayed as rare, nothing to worry about. The Centers for Disease Control in the U.S. said in March 2021 that “vaccinated people do not carry the virus.”
LIES, LIES and MORE DOCUMENTED LIES
Then the Delta variant came along and we learned that vaccinated people could get infected and transmit the virus. When Delta was overtaken by Omicron, the situation changed again. An article in the British medical journal The Lancet in January reported on a new British study that concluded the impact of vaccination on community transmission “appeared to be not significantly different from the impact among unvaccinated people.” Other international studies have reached the same conclusion.
concluded the impact of vaccination on community transmission “appeared to be not significantly different from the impact among unvaccinated people.” Other international studies have reached the same conclusion.
Ontario’s experience with the Omicron virus certainly supports that point. While the rate of serious illness is higher among the unvaccinated, the vaccinated are significantly affected too. In early January, vaccinated people had a COVID case rate of a little over 100 people for every 100,000. Interestingly, both partially vaccinated and unvaccinated people had a rate of about 80 people per 100,000. Now, all three have declined sharply and there is little difference in the case rate between the vaccinated and unvaccinated.
In modelling released earlier this month, Ontario’s science advisory group estimated that between 1.5 and four million Ontarians were infected with the virus over the last 60 days. They certainly didn’t all get it from unvaccinated people.
When the pandemic began, the popular slogan was “we’re all in it together.” Then we weren’t, but now we are again. We’ve just been slow to react to it.
That’s evident in the Ontario government’s plan to keep vaccine passports in place even when it lifts other restrictions on March 14. Some will no doubt enjoy the punitive effect of keeping the unvaccinated outside looking in, but what additional safety does it offer the vaccinated when the case rates for the two groups are so similar?
As of this week, 89 per cent of Ontarians 12 and over are fully vaccinated and a further three per cent are partially vaccinated. That’s a huge success.
As the provincial government ponders whether to treat the unvaccinated like other people, it will want to consider the public mood. A new Angus Reid Institute poll shows a changing attitude. In Ontario, 54 per cent want pandemic restrictions to end now. That matches the national average, which has increased 15 points in two weeks.
The poll also gives reason to infer that personal experience is reducing public fear. Since Dec. 1, at least one family member has tested positive in 22 per cent of Ontario households. Across the country, 52 per cent of those infected say the symptoms were minor and 47 say they were serious but manageable, like the flu. Only one per cent reported severe symptoms.
The virus was as mild as always.
It’s still correct to say that vaccinations offer significant protection against severe illness and hospitalization. (no it’s not) By not choosing to get vaccinated, a small minority of people are putting themselves at greater risk and putting some additional burden on Ontario’s underpowered health-care system. If the last several months are a guide, excluding them from society will do little to change that.
Perhaps the vaxxed should be excluded they certainly had covid at higher rates then the unvaxxed? Think about that? Seriously, think about that?