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How the vaccine-hesitant could slow the end of the pandemic

Houston, we have a problem.

There can be little doubt that one of the reasons behind Covid-19's rapid increase in many parts of the country right now can be attributed to the good news coming out about future vaccines to thwart the virus.

On the surface, the problem would appear to be that people are letting their guard down with salvation, apparently, waiting right around the corner, even though it could be up to four more months before mass distribution begins across this country.

But that is just the tip of the iceberg. It appears that there's a much bigger problem facing the nation if and when the vaccine finally becomes available and is distributed across Canada.

The Cardus think-tank publication, Convivium, recently published a rather lengthy piece by former newspaper publisher, former CRTC vice-chair and current senior fellow at the Macdonald Laurier Institute, Peter Menzies, and, in one particular area, the projections aren't good.

And the reason they aren't good is simply because far too many Canadians simply don't believe in the severity of Covid-19, despite the fact it's killed more people than wars.

And, as I've written before in this space, (Had they not been willing to sacrifice, Kivalliq News, Nov. 11) others are simply putting their self-interests first and refusing to give up a tiny, tiny piece of what they perceive to be their own personal freedoms in order to help prevent the further spread of this virus.

It shows that we are still not capable as a race of human beings of making a few self-sacrifices in order to protect those among us who are most likely to suffer the most or, indeed, lose their very lives if they come in contact or are exposed to this virus.

The fact of the matter is, 66 per cent of the population must be vaccinated in order for the virus to be successfully suppressed and herd immunity come to rule the day.

And, were the vaccine to be available today, available data shows nowhere near that many Canadians would be willing to be vaccinated against Covid-19.

Nowhere near! And that, valued readers, is one heck of a problem we're facing if those numbers don't change.

The Menzies article pointed out that recent Angus Reid polling in this country shows that only 39 per cent of Canadians say they would get an approved vaccine injection right away if one became available.

That's only slightly more than half of the 66 per cent we'd need to put this nightmare behind us once and for all.

And the numbers get worse.

Polling also shows that 23 per cent of the Canadians asked distrust the information being released by government and the media, and believe the threat of Covid-19 has been exaggerated.

When you add to all that the mask demonstrators, all those who believe their rights are being trampled on, and the anti-vaxxers who won't accept a vaccine of any kind, and we could be heading down a very dark path that could turn many Canadians against each other for quite a while in this country.

Call it the Donald Trump road to modern democracy.

Tim Caulfield, the Canada Research chair in health law and policy at the University of Alberta, says you can essentially break anti-vaxxers into two groups.

The first group consists of full-on disbelievers who make up somewhere between two and five per cent of the population, depending on which study you look at. Their minds won’t be changed.

The second group – somewhere between 20 and 30 per cent of Canadians – is for what some now call the vaccine-hesitant. They may get some of the required vaccinations for their children, but not all of them.

These two groups of Canadians could actually tip the balance as to whether enough of the population agrees to receive the vaccine to get us anywhere near the required 66 per cent we need to suppress Covid-19, and that's taking for granted, of course, another roughly 30 per cent of Canadians eventually changing their minds and agreeing to the vaccination.

And I'm not holding my breath on that one anytime soon.

In short, a politician trailing by these polling numbers would simply give up the ghost and drop out of whatever race he or she was trying to win.

Hopefully, cooler heads and more well-informed minds will take over so we can defeat the pandemic in this country once a successful vaccine becomes available.

But, whether it's 95 per cent effective or not, a Covid vaccine in Canada today would be absolutely useless without a dramatic change in the thinking of about half our population.

Food for thought!