/Let’s not get too relaxed

Let’s not get too relaxed

By Jim Poling Sr.
From Shaman’s Rock

The COVID-19 pandemic is over. That seems to be a consensus in a world that has succumbed to COVID fatigue.

Most people have tossed their masks. Government mandates and restrictions are mostly gone.

But the killer virus is still with us. Two to three thousand Canadians are catching it every day. Hundreds are ending up in hospital every day and several dozen are dying of it every day. In the U.S., the daily average death rate from the virus is 314. 

It is a virus that keeps bringing us surprises. The latest is research showing how quickly vaccine protection against the virus wanes.

A British study has found that two doses of the highly-rated Pfizer vaccine provide only 34 percent protection after six months. Two doses of Astro-Zeneca provide zero protection after six months.

Another British study found that booster shots start losing their effectiveness after 10 weeks. 

So, more people vaccinated and boosted are catching it, although most of those cases are not severe. Many are older people whose immune systems don’t respond to vaccines as well as younger people.

“There’s still exceptionally high risk among older adults, even those with primary vaccine series,” Andrew Stokes, a Boston University assistant professor who studies COVID death age, was quoted as saying recently.

What worries me most about the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 is how little we seem to know about it, and the surprises it brings us.

For instance, since the onset of COVID-19 there has been an increase in autoimmune disorders in people and pets. I know of three people who have contracted such disorders, which can range from recurring pneumonia to arthritis, lupus and psoriasis. 

Also, I have two granddogs who have developed autoimmune disorders since the pandemic began and have heard of other cases in dogs and cats.

Now there are reports of other viruses acting in odd ways. The medical community has reported surges in common viruses that cause colds and influenza, which are seen usually in the winter months.

Researchers are trying to figure out whether these common viruses are showing up now because of the lessening of masking and social distancing, or whether the powerful coronavirus is causing changes.

This coronavirus has too many variations, too many unanswered questions and too many surprises for us to become too relaxed.

Masking is unquestionably one of the most effective ways of reducing the spread of the virus. 

That’s not to say that government orders on mask wearing are the way to go. It is impossible for governments to enforce mask wearing for tens of millions of people.

And, government mandates for wearing masks have not proven very effective, as have other political decisions made during the pandemic.

Mask wearing at this point should be an individual decision. I intend to continue to wear mine in higher risk situations such as crowds.

The coronavirus is not going away anytime soon. Even if it does, there are other viruses out there preparing to take its place.

A worrisome one is the H5N1 strain of bird flu, which already has struck 100 species of wild birds. (If you have been wondering why you are seeing fewer birds around your place, the spreading bird flu might be the reason).

The experts say there is little risk that this bird flu will affect humans, however several human cases have been reported. There always is a risk of spillover into human populations as a virus evolves. Virus spillover from animals certainly has occurred many times in the past.

We live in a world of viruses. Shrugging and forgetting just how deadly and devastating they can be is a danger to us all.

For anyone who might have forgotten, here are a few facts to keep in mind:

In the United States, one of the world’s most medically advanced societies, coronavirus now is the third leading cause of death.

COVID-19 has reduced life expectancy in 31 of 37 high-income countries.

The virus has killed 6.3 million people worldwide.

Studies show that almost one-half of people who contract COVID-19 and survive suffer health impacts four months or more after the initial diagnosis.