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Shutdowns and precautions and vaccines, oh my!

I have been asked about why the shutdown is helping, how all of the precautions fit in, and where do I stand on the vaccines. Here is a perspective:

Without precautions Covid-19 had an infection rate of 2.5. This means every infected person is expected to infect another 2.5 people. Infected people typically are infectious for about 2 weeks, so the infection goes from one person to 2.5 in two weeks, to over six in four weeks, 15 in six weeks... All of our precautions, the masking, distancing, staying home, and sanitation have dropped the infection rate to 1.1, and that is why our numbers are slowly creeping up.. Any number over 1 means the virus is spreading.

We need to get the number below 1 and keep it there!

In my office my patients keep asking me about the vaccine, it’s safety and effectiveness. They are looking for hope! I have some patients who think the government should force all people to get vaccinated, some who are eager just for themselves, some vaccine hesitant patients who want to see more safety data before being vaccinated, and some anti-vaxxers. I think my practice is representative of the general population.

The math/logic behind not forcing everyone to be vaccinated is as follows: let’s assume the government gets 50% of the population vaccinated, that the vaccine is 90% effective at preventing the disease, that the infection rate continues to be 1.1, and that the infectious period is two weeks. Effectively that means 45% of the population cannot be infected and spread the disease. This effectively drops the infectious rate to about 0.6. In two months this lower infectious rate will drop the number of cases by 85%. In four months the numbers drop 98%. The vaccine release is projected for early 20 21. That means, assuming my scenario is correct, that Ontario will have only a few dozen cases by the end of August! All of this assumes that the vaccine prevents spread as well as enhanced personal immunity.

Unfortunately, by not vaccinating everyone, the spread is still possible to the unvaccinated, and the most vulnerable people, the elderly and immunosuppressed, who are less likely to develop immunity from the vaccine. This means there is still a risk of death, even if Covid becomes rare. Therefore the societal problem of a lower vaccination rate is continued deaths due to Covid, albeit far fewer.

The potential problem with vaccination is vaccine adverse reactions. We do not know what the rate and severity of vaccine adverse reactions will be. The rush to get the vaccine to market means we will not have any longitudinal studies on the safety of the vaccine. This makes many hesitant or downright anti-vaccine.

Regardless of where you fall in the spectrum of forced vaccination to anti-vaxxer, I welcome you to my office.

One last note: Vaccines are out of the scope of practice for chiropractors in Ontario. I am not advocating for or against vaccination for any individual. I am simply pointing out the math of how a vaccine, even with partial population participation will bring the numbers down quickly!

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