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Hoping a vaccine for this virus isn’t far away


I know I'd be on a hiding to nothing appealing to the diehard antivaxxers who have been angrily opposing the lockdown and finding the present crisis an inspiration to seek yet another conspiracy theory to share. But there are plenty of others who aren't naturally distrustful of expertise and leadership who might be swayed by their misinformation.

Here is a point to consider: the lockdown was a nightmare for the antivaxxers.

As a nation we have achieved the remarkable feat of effectively eliminating the Sars-CoV-2 virus from our population. Good scientific advice, political leadership and trust all playing important roles, buying us time to explore the next choices.

There appears to be two distinct paths in our future relationship with the virus. One is to gain herd immunity by exposure to it, and evidently see a lot of our vulnerable people suffer terribly and maybe die, and our economy continue to tank as we try to mitigate the effects.

The other is to hope that the efforts to develop a vaccine will produce a result in the relative near future that will be available to inoculate those of us who are willing. A much preferable outcome for everyone who isn't afraid of vaccination, but a particularly thorny issue if you've chosen to see vaccines as evil sorcery.

The antivaxxers' determined opposition to the lockdown is likely motivated by an eagerness to avoid whatever negative effects they imagine vaccination entails while ignoring the terrible suffering that those in New York, Stockholm or Lombardy have faced on their first small steps along the involuntary path to herd immunity. For the antivaxxers this is somehow a reasonable tradeoff. My fears versus your granny.

I suspect the “motivated reasoning” of a signed-up antivaxxer will find flaws in my logic, but you might excuse me, as the special insights available to them seem intriguingly inaccessible to the rest of us.

I trust that most New Zealanders hope as I do that, having achieved elimination, vaccination isn't too far away.

Donald Robson

Leave a Reply to Jason Sanders, Auckland Cancel reply

  1. Lloyd Gretton, Auckland says:

    Mortality rates are dropping at least in America while testing positive is growing thanks to more and more testing. President Trump in his inimitable way is trying to tweet the good news. So is former Senator and medical practitioner Ron Paul. Everyone admitted into an American public hospital is now tested for Covid-19. If diagnosed positive, they are then classed as a Covid-19 case. My personal feeling is that by around the end of this year, the health crisis will be over and no vaccinations needed except for co-morbid and the very elderly. Unless they are forced on us by Bill Gates, who is notorious for his vaccination practices in the third world.

  2. Jason Sanders, Auckland says:

    Well Mr Robson, you might be advised to not hold your breath for the touted panacea to Covid19 of a vaccine. Coronaviruses have been around for some decades now and there never has been a successful coronavirus vaccine, in terms of efficacy. I dare you to tell me of one!

    Point no. 2: you seem to be creating a strawman argument to criticise those who oppose full lockdowns. You belligerently allege all those who oppose strict lockdowns are woolly minded conspiracy theorists, and anti vaccine. This points to great bias and prejudice colouring your assessment of what many reasonable minded people consider to be NZs overly strict lockdown measures. It is also unfair to the intelligence of those who do happen to oppose mass vaccination.

    Here is a more nuanced reply: in regard to your position that all those who oppose a full lockdown are antivaxxers I would like to point out to you that those medical experts of Sweden and Iceland, who advised their Governments to not do hard lockdowns (they did very liberal lockdown measures, aiming to not let their healthcare systems get overwhelmed, which they believe they did achieve), are most definitely not anti vaccine. In fact Anders Tegnell, Sweden’s chief epidemiologist, was head of the WHO vaccine campaign in Laos 1990 to 1993 and played a key role in his countries vaccine campaign against Swine flu in 2009. Former Swedish chief epidemiologist Johan Giesecke, is highly esteemed medically, and still an adviser to the Swedish Government, and was also against hard lockdowns.

    And Giesecke makes a good point. So what if NZ and Australia do succeed in totally eliminating cases of C19. To stay clean we’d have to close our borders for the next 30 years or so. That will be the only way keep total elimination of this highly infectious respiratory illness. Economically it would destroy us of course.

    The only way out apart from completely closed borders for years to come is a successful vaccine. But that is a great gamble. As I have pointed out there never has been a successful coronavirus vaccine. However it looks like Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and her cabinet are foolishly pinning all their hopes on that happening, very likely setting us up for a huge economic slump next year, the likes of which we haven’t seen since the 1930s.

    To reinforce my point, there are many medical experts who doubt an effective vaccine will ever come about. For instance, the UK’s Chief Medical Officer, Christopher Whitty, recently told a Parliamentary committee that there was “concerning” evidence suggesting that it may not be possible to stimulate immunity to the virus.

    “The first question we do not know is ‘do you get natural immunity to this disease if you have had it, for a prolonged period of time?’” Whitty said.

    “Now if we don’t then it doesn’t make a vaccine impossible but it makes it much less likely and we simply don’t know yet.”

    In an interview with The Observer David Nabarro, professor of global health at Imperial College, London, had this to say, “Some viruses are very, very difficult when it comes to vaccine development – so for the foreseeable future, we are going to have to find ways to go about our lives with this virus as a constant threat.”

    Best wishes,
    Jason Sanders