Canada’s ramping up their vaccine rollout across the country with the aim of giving the majority of adults their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine by the end of May.
As more and more people get their first shot, we feel closer and closer to returning to a “new normal” after over a year of on and off lockdowns, stay-at-home measures, and the difficult challenge of figuring out who will compose our limited social bubbles.
But what happens next? How will the flow of our everyday lives change as the percentage of people being vaccinated increases?
Unfortunately, according to health experts, not much.
At least 70% of the population needs to be vaccinated in order for herd immunity to work
Herd immunity essentially means that it becomes nearly impossible for the virus to find suitable hosts that help sustain the transmission of the virus. If the virus isn’t able to find a host, it eventually dies out.
But, in order for that to happen, the majority of people must be vaccinated against COVID-19.
While there’s still a lot of debate surrounding what percentage of the total population is needed for this to happen, medical experts agree that at least 70% of the population needs to be vaccinated. Some argue a minimum of 85% of the population is needed.
Unfortunately, Canada’s vaccination rollout has lagged behind most industrial nations. Meaning, we have a long way to go before we even come close to reaching 70%.
Canada has currently vaccinated less than 5% of its total population.
Right now, we are trailing behind Israel, who has vaccinated (meaning their population has received both doses) just under 60% of its population; the U.S. has approximately 30% vaccinated, and the U.K. is hovering above 20%.
Yet another question about the vaccines lingers… What about transmission?
Pfizer & AstraZeneca vaccines likely reduce chances of transmission by 40-60%
For months, medical experts were cautious about saying the vaccine will reduce transmission of the COVID-19 virus. There just wasn’t enough information to make that claim.
Recently, however, a few studies have been published with some surprising results.
According to a report done by Public Health England, which looked at transmissions of more than 365,000 households, the Pfizer or AstraZeneca vaccine reduces the chances of virus transmission by 40-60%.
This means that not only are vaccinated people further protected from COVID-19 but they will protect the people around them too.
That’s great news if we want to achieve herd immunity.
Social distancing measures still needed to prevent increased risk of outbreaks
Early this year, a mathematical model evaluated the risk of an increased risk of outbreaks during the process of vaccinating a population.
Unfortunately, people who are in the process of getting the vaccine often think they are less likely to get and transmit COVID-19. This is untrue and could actually lead to further outbreaks. If you think you are protected, you may engage in riskier behavior.
The study warned that the chances of an increased outbreak are higher when vaccination coverage is high but vaccine efficacy is low (meaning you haven’t received both doses) and social distancing measures are not being followed.
So, until Canada’s fully vaccinated at least 70% of the population, life under COVID seems to stay the same.