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BC FORUM News - From The Advocate, Spring 2021

 

All of these vaccines are wonderful

Any one of them can save your life

While the headlines give varying percentages for the effectiveness of vaccines, one stark fact has been harder to discern. The results of clinical trials show five different vaccines eliminated deaths, and dramatically reduced serious illness.

This amazingly good news is shrouded by how research scientists measure effectiveness. If any immunized person becomes ill – no matter how mild the infection – that’s considered a failure.

It makes a lot of sense if you’re dealing with a disease that’s almost always fatal, like ebola, but it muddies the picture in the current circumstances.

Each year, Influenza causes an average of 3,500 deaths and 12,200 hospitalizations in Canada. For COVID-19 – a far more deadly disease – the vaccines from Johnson & Johnson, Moderna, Novavax, Oxford- AstraZeneca and Pfizer-BioNTech reduced those numbers to zero and nearly zero.

In short, any one of these vaccines can save your life.

Weird times call for weird economics

Conventional notions of sound economic policy need to be set aside to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, says Nobel Prize winning economist Paul Krugman.

“When depression economics prevails, the usual rules of economic policy no longer apply: virtue becomes vice, caution is risky and prudence is folly,” Krugman wrote during the 2008 financial crisis. He says the crisis we’re now facing also requires governments to make large investments.

“We aren’t experiencing a conventional output gap. Instead we’re facing something more like a natural disaster….

“In this situation, the purpose of government spending isn’t to provide stimulus, it is to provide disaster relief – money that helps those hurt by the pandemic make it through until widespread vaccination makes it possible to resume our usual lives,” says Krugman, writing in the New York Times.

“In the jargon of economics, a large part of (President Biden’s) relief package is likely to have low multiplier effects. This is normally a bad thing, but right now it’s actually a good thing. It means that we can aid those in need without worrying too much about the side effects (like inflationary pressures).

“The point is that weird times call for weird economic thinking. This is no time to be conventional.”

Worrisome variants

The B.1.1.7 variant of concern first identified in the United Kingdom spreads more easily and may be 30 to 70 percent more deadly, according to a report from British government scientific advisers.

In this country, grim modelling released by the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) suggests the variant could drive a dramatic spike in infections, with cases climbing to more than twice the January peak of 8,000 a day if public health restrictions are relaxed.

The B.1.1.7 variant was behind an unexpected explosion of cases in Newfoundland in February, leading to a hard lockdown and, for the first time in Canadian history, the cancellation of in person voting in a provincial election.

Unless the variants are contained, the PHAC model also projects cases could climb to 10,000 a day even if current restrictions are maintained.

 

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