There’s no denying how to beat the virus
Western People August 10, 2021
If we want to put some clear water between ourselves and the Covid-19 virus, it really is a contest to the death between ‘the Virus and the Vaccine’. The virus mutating itself into yet another variant – now the aggressive Delta variant – has underlined that truth. ‘Herd immunity’, once derided as an irresponsible even slightly crazed objective, is making a comeback in a different form – the effort to maximise the numbers vaccinated, including children.
When the vaccines for Covid-19 first began to emerge, even the experts held out little hope that they would prove to be the lifeline they are. Now there’s almost a consensus that vaccinating as many as it is possible to vaccinate safely is the only secure way forward.
Thankfully, the response to opting for the vaccine has been extraordinarily high in Ireland. This is clear – I write on Thursday of last week – as I see from a graphic of the vaccine uptake by age-group the following:
- 80+ 99%
- 70-79 98%
- 60-69 96%
- 50-59 94%
- 40-49 89%
- 30-39 82%
- 20-29 64%
Here are a few other telling statistics re vaccination:
- Less that .001% (or one on a thousand) of those fully vaccinated have had a fatal outcome
- Less than .004% (or 4 in a thousand) have been hospitalized.
The above proves two inescapable conclusions: (i) vaccines work and (ii) vaccines are the best protection against the virus.
Considering that 300,000-plus have contracted the virus in the Republic of Ireland and that 5,000-plus have died as a result, it’s frightening to contemplate what life would be like now in Ireland if there was no vaccine or if the Irish people had decided not to accept vaccination in large numbers.
How many more thousands would be dead now and how many multiple thousands would have contracted the virus – and everything that entails including the spectre of ‘long Covid’?
Yet despite everything, the conspiracy theorists are still making hay. A mix of attention-seekers, religious extremists, trouble-makers and the incredibly gullible – all it seems blithely unaware of the telling statistics quoted above – are pooling their nonsense and gathering in groups to protest against the vaccines, with spectacularly unqualified people offering opinions based on little more than what they read in the papers or what they saw on Google.
As I wrote in this space last May the blunt truth is that taking a vaccine is a personal, family and social responsibility. Taking the advice of a conspiracy theorist is nonsensical and may well prove fatal.
Despite the progress we’ve made, Nphet and Niac are still cautious because the figure for new cases is still uncomfortably high and they are still nervous that the target for herd immunity has still not been reached. We are in sight of clear water but we’re not there yet.
It is a sensible, responsible course to take because even though statistically the numbers are less that they were, we’re still dealing with an aggressive disease that can have huge implications not just for long-term, debilitating illness but for death.
The stakes are still high and it makes sense to be careful. Which is why the government needs to keep its nerve and not be jumped into conceding immediately opening up everything when waiting for a few more weeks would significantly increase the numbers vaccinated, limit the numbers contracting the virus and the numbers dying.
Inevitably, some protests about the unfairness of the lockdown are inevitable. Some of it is understandable, more is a bit problematic and still more is just blatantly childish and sometimes just plain selfish.
In the Sunday Times, Brenda Power suggests that the pandemic has brought a sense of proportion to the excesses, for example, of the wedding industry which seems geared to concocting ever more ingenious ways to part young couples with their savings. Little wonder, she writes, that ‘wedding planners were protesting outside the Dáil hoping to resume the money-spinning excesses of those ridiculously extravagant events’.
But, it seems too, there may be hundreds of couples thanking heaven for the pandemic, the limited guest lists and the simplicity of getting married. And not just the couples getting married but the guests too, one of which confided to me once that she would rather get a summons in the post than a wedding invitation.
The same I suspect is true of many parents of First Communion children who stand to save hundreds of euro on not having a Bouncy Castle, 50 plus guests and the varieties of excess attending such landmark ‘spiritual’ events. Or indeed the reluctant guests for whom attendance is a ‘command performance’.
There’s a message there that we would do well to take on board – those who make the loudest noises (or succeed in generating the loudest support) are not always those who make the greatest sense.
There comes a time when leaders have to lead and when the more moral and responsible approach trumps the more limited perspective of those who imagine that what’s right for society is what they decide they want to do or have to have.
For Catholics, in terms of social teaching, the key tenet that always guides (or should guide) our approach is what we call ‘the common good’ – even when those you’d imagine should be reminding us of it seem to have forgotten it.