2020 was no doubt a rough year for many of us, but most including myself were hoping for a better 2021. While things improved somewhat, not to extent many of us hoped for. While things were really bad at this point a year ago, many of us had hope end was near as vaccines were approved and it was simply a matter of getting the shots into people’s arms. By early spring, numbers in both UK and Israel looked very promising and this was with only one dose. While Canada was being hit hard with a third wave, any frustration was more at slow roll out of vaccines. And Canada did have a slow start, but we ended up finishing sooner than many including government predicted so despite slow start, I do think our government on balance handled roll out well. By summer, signs were COVID-19 was nearing its end and life would begin to return to normal. But then in August, many parts of US got hard hit while Alberta and Saskatchewan were hard hit in early Fall. However, since it was largely unvaccinated clogging up hospitals, solution seemed to be move to vaccine passports so those of us who did right thing and got both shots could get our life back to normal without risking hospitals being overwhelmed. Some in Alberta and Saskatchewan were calling for a firebreak lockdown last Fall, but thankfully both premiers ignored it. I supported lockdowns pre-vaccine, but I as per last post believe they are not appropriate post-vaccine.
But then Omicron struck and now we are seeing by far our highest levels of infection since pandemic started despite 85% being vaccinated. Yes our hospitalizations are way lower than a year ago showing vaccines work, but still felt like a gut punch. Question is will life ever return to normal or is this pandemic going to be here for long haul. I believe unfortunately it will be latter. I hope its former but realistically I think idea of pandemic ending anytime soon seems unlikely. I may not be an epidemiologist, but I do know pandemics don’t just magically end, something has to cause an end. And reality is if vaccines won’t end it, I don’t know what will. As such we need to now learn to live with COVID. COVID zero was never realistic all along, but at this point it is utter foolishness. I understand desire to prevent our health care system from being overwhelmed, but when deciding restrictions one must realize there is no magic cure. All actions will cause some harm so we have to decide what causes least harm. A one time lockdown is a fair trade off, but on and off lockdowns every time there is a new wave is just not sustainable. Businesses cannot survive and more importantly many calling for lockdowns are focusing too much on physical health and ignoring mental health. Humans are social animals and asking for us to stay home for long periods can be very damaging to mental health. We have already seen overdoses skyrocket and I worry if this continues, suicides, alcoholism, domestic abuse, and overdoses will all get worse. As such my worry is less about getting COVID-19 as I am double vaccinated and getting my booster soon so I am sure I will be fine. I worry more that our establishment is still stuck in March 2020 mentality and every time a spike, they call for lockdowns ignoring that with a highly vaccinated population; you can have much higher levels of cases without health system collapsing then you can when few are vaccinated. Yes I understand for some immune compromised, things will be more dangerous, but they were always at risk so we need to find ways to protect them without shutting down society. Making it mandatory for firms to allow people to work from home where possible, delivery of groceries, and expanded disability assistance for those who cannot work for this reason seem like better options to protect immune compromised without shutting society down. And more importantly, people need to make their own choices based on their risk.
Everyone has different risk tolerance and best thing government can do is let people know what risks are and let individuals decide based on their risk tolerance. Like most, I wish it hadn’t come to this, but we have to deal with reality not how we wish it were. I hope I am wrong in that pandemic transitions to endemic this year, but I am also a realist that odds of that happening are well below 50%. As such those pushing for lockdowns may be right if looking at this wave in isolation, but wrong if thinking long term. The current wave will recede at some point, but it won’t be the last wave. So those asking for lockdowns now, I ask what are your metrics for ending them? Too many I think are asking for conditions that will result in on and off lockdowns indefinitely. That may not be their intention, but it will be end result. And permanently shutting borders is just silly. I don’t wish to live in a hermit kingdom. I believe travel is quite beneficial. It teaches people about other societies and cultures and more people learn about rest of the world, the more tolerant we are and also more open we are to different ideas. It is from travelling elsewhere that allowed me to see first hand how certain policies work and thus why on some things I don’t accept status quo in Canada as I’ve seen it done better elsewhere. Now I am not suggesting dropping all rules like Florida has, but I do think we need to find a way to allow people to largely return to normal, but still minor restrictions to help avoid the worse of COVID-19. I respect establishment, but I also think sometimes they are too disconnected from how average people behave and go more on idealism than realism. And as such we should listen to what they say, but also realize they only see one angle, not all. And best decisions are made by looking at all not just one. I hope pandemic does transfer to endemic, but I think its high time our experts realize that may not happen anytime soon and start thinking of a realistic way forward instead of being stuck in past thinking.