There is a lot of mis-information out there and for the most part that is because a lot of it is also confusing on how it is presented.
There are a couple of things it would be helpful if people could agree upon and get right:
- COVID is not fake news, it is the leading cause of death today.
As of December 2020, COVID deaths per day out paced the other two previous leading causes of death combined (Heart Disease and Cancer). This does not account for downstream impacts to healthcare systems that are prioritizing COVID patients in ICU beds making them unavailable for other medical emergencies. Heart disease and cancer haven’t suddently stopped happening just because of COVID. Delays in treatment are likely going to result in a future increase in other diseases due to lack of early diagnosis and treatment. Believing it is fake news or not doesn’t matter if there are no hospital beds regardless of why you need a bed, which is why flattening the curve is so important.
- You need to assume everyone is a carrier, including yourself.
By one estimate, it was suggested that approximate 1 in 6 people could be carriers of the virus without knowing it. While 4 out of 5 people likely will not show any symptoms within 7-13 days, no one can say for certain whether you or someone you love is in that 20% that is at very high risk. Age certainly plays a significant role but this virus has also claimed lives as young as 3. You can’t count anyone out. You can’t assume you are not part of the problem just because you appear healthy. You have to take responsibility to be part of the solution.
- Masks are primarily to protect others.
Wearing a mask is primarily about protecting others, not you (although they do help). Refer back to rule 2 if there is any misunderstanding because you may never know if you have the virus or not. Transmission rates go up whenever people gather in confined spaces without masks. You can see that in the transmission rates after people have gone back to work (fall) and after holidays (US Thanksgiving, Christmas). While masks do help prevent yourself from getting it from others, the most important function of a mask is to prevent respiratory vapour from being spread about in the first place. The less droplets are in the air, the less likely someone else is going to breath them in or make contact with it.
- Vaccines prevent you from getting sick, not others.
A vaccine, once it is widely available, will help lessen the severity of COVID if you happen to become infected. It doesn’t not mean that you won’t be able to pass it on to someone else if you become infected. If you are infected with a live virus, then you are still a carrier and still need to follow rules 2 and 3 above. In addition, the mRNA vaccines require 2 doses to be fully effective. This takes time, so anyone receiving the vaccine shouldn’t assume that they can automatically dump their mask just because they have had their shots. Once you are innoculated, yes you are less likely to be able to transmit it to someone else. You aren’t completely immune.
- Herd immunity doesn’t work unless you involve the entire herd.
It doesn’t matter whether you are Conservative, Liberal, Republican, Democrat, Canadian, European, Asian, Black, White, Muslim, or Catholic. Viruses do not respect politics or cultural divisions. We are all, globally, one herd and need to treat the solution as a single herd. This is one of those instances where our self-preservation and self-interest is best served by treating everyone equal in terms of access, collaboration, and respect.
No one knows how long this is going to last. It is safe to assume that, until there is equal access to vaccines, personal protective equipment, and people willing to be selfless enough to know that using these effectively is the fastest path to a return to normal, life will not be normal.
Many people compare COVID to the spanish flu. To put it into perspective using today’s population figures, COVID could mean 2.6 billion people infected and 260 million people dead before this is under control. It doesn’t have to.
We have technology we didn’t back in 1918.
We have immunology understanding we didn’t back in 1918.
We have global communication we didn’t back in 1918.
We have infrastructure we didn’t back in 1918.
Its not enough though without everyone working together as one herd.
Agreement on five simple ideas. That is all it takes to speed up the process of getting through this crisis and being able to clean up this mess.
— Kevin Feenan