Content Warning – this was a post written for my friends on Facebook who have been super-excited about the vaccine and what it might mean. This is a non-referenced post, written on a tube train, which may or may not be of interest to the wider world
There’s lots of stuff flying around about vaccines at the moment. I don’t know if its useful, I don’t know if anyone cares anymore (I would forgive you if you didn’t), but here are some thoughts/comments. They will be an oversimplification as I can teach whole modules on this but there we go.
Vaccines have 2 main functions:
- 1 – to prevent or, more commonly, reduce transmission risk.
- 2 – to attenuate infection, i.e. you still become infected but will get less sick and, therefore, your risk of mortality (death) or morbidity (long term consequences) is reduced.
Almost all vaccines are a combination of both of these aims but they are often focused more on one than the other. Most people seem to be commenting thinking that the main aim of the SARS CoV2 vaccines is mainly number 1, when in reality the main thing we’re trying to achieve is actually to reduce mortality and long term health consequences.
The vaccine is much more likely to function like the flu vaccine where you are given it at six month or 12 month intervals depending on whether you are currently in a group where your risk indicates that aim 2 might be helpful. It will inevitably have an impact on aim 1. However, you will, from the current predicted vaccinable groups, have a large reservoir where the virus will still be actively circulating and will be for the foreseeable future.
In addition to that, we will still have some vaccinated people who acquire infection and actively shed virus, they just get less ill. This is to not even mention vaccine failures, of which there will be some as with other vaccines.
What does this mean?
Well, the availability of a vaccine is great news. It will help in reducing deaths, preventing healthcare associated cases and will be a step back towards normality. It sadly does not mean that it is the only step back to normality or that those steps will happen a lot more quickly. It just means that hopefully less people will die along the way. I don’t think we are talking enough about the new normal, but that is where the vaccine will lead us, not to where we were before. Obviously everything is speculation until the peer-reviewed studies are out and this is just me. I am only one person so my crystal ball could be wrong. Be hopeful, look to the future but also know that our personal responsibility for controlling spread and protecting others will not end with one or two injections.
Anyway, what do I know…?
All opinions of this blog are my own