We need more than vaccines. Cleaner air, please!

None of us will ever forget the summer that was not. The summer of 2020. And the summer of ‘21 will indeed be remembered, particularly by those who have been cheated. They did everything that was asked of them by governments, but now realize they were unintentionally misled. They stepped up and got vaccinated against Covid, twice, with the vaccines bought with our money, by the Trudeau government. Some of those vaccines are AstraZeneca and Covishield, produced by AstraZeneca-SKBio (Republic of Korea) and the Serum Institute of India. Governments around the world are not accepting them, because of the now well-known blood clot issue, and the comparatively lower 60 percent efficacy. Countries are unwavering, despite the approval by the World Health Organization.

Travel agents are having to cancel trips, like the one in Alberta which had 40 family related people booked for Croatia. Nine had Covishield so the whole September trip was cancelled.

We are hearing daily from fully vaccinated travelers, having to cancel their trips because one country or another they had planned to visit, is not recognizing the Canadian government issued and mandated vaccine. (Although there are reports of lax border checks in some countries) I would not be surprised if some creative lawyer finds convincing wording for the basis of a class action law suit against the federal government. The Legault government realizes the ‘mistake’, or the unfortunate consequences of encouraging Quebecers whose first jab was AZ and their second dose was an mRNA, Pfizer or Moderna . This booster shot tries to hide the stumble, by the federal government, admittedly accepted by every province in the country. The third dose will allow Canadians with “two matching doses to circumvent international restrictions on mixed doses”.

I’m not sure there was a choice. A year ago, governments were grasping at anything that would get us out of this, trying to avoid health care systems collapsing. Even if it was only 60 per cent effective, after two arm jabs, it was worth it, they said, because it was at least some protection against this fatal virus.

It could be worse. Pity the 350 quarantined health workers in Indonesia and in other countries who took the China produced Sinovac vaccine, which offers little protection against Covid, and much less against any new variant, especially Delta.

In the end we have to wonder whether a vaccine strategy alone will be enough to stop the next wave. Quebec, BC and Alberta are opening up, too soon for many. In BC for example, masks are no longer required on public transit, not even in stores. Yet six million people remain unvaccinated in Canada. The hard-core anti-vaxxers will not be convinced. Even if they’ve been hospitalized and survive, to the detriment of health workers, they are stubbornly against it. Said one to a TV reporter “it’s because government has an agenda” What!

Many other Canadians simply do not have access, can’t leave the children at home alone, have no internet capability to navigate through the health system, language barrier, mental health and addiction issues, the homeless and the marginalized. Others are just fence sitters. Our system has to reach them. The Quebec passport is an excellent motivator. But there seems no reason to try to convince the hard-core deniers, “for whom it’s kind of a religion.”

Herd immunity was originally a 70% target. But with the arrival of variants, milder symptomatic infection is happening even to those of us fully vaccinated. So we can still transmit the virus. And that virus will find the unvaccinated. They are the most vulnerable. As a result, some epidemiologists call for herd immunity to be “75 to 80-plus percent.”. That is unlikely to happen. What’s the alternative? Let’s make the double vaccine mandatory for all health workers, all teachers, all front-line workers, all government employees. And if you’re going to return to the office, double jabs have to be mandatory. I worry about our kids going back to school soon, with no vaccines for the under 12 years of age.

I’m a big proponent of cleaner air, especially indoors where the concentration of viral particles is often higher than outdoors, and especially where large gatherings are now allowed because of relaxed restrictions. Recirculated air is just bad. Governments should be working with architects and aerosol engineers, to encourage office building owners, school administrators, airlines, to upgrade their HVAC system. Support the use of Ultraviolet germicidal irradiation. It’s ultraviolet energy that kills viral, bacterial, and fungal organisms. Let’s make more use of fresh air.

Despite the miracle performance of the vaccine, just like the virus, our strategies have to evolve. We need more than vaccines.

That’s what I’m Thinking.

Robert Vairo robert@newsfirst.ca