The initial data surrounding the COVID-19 vaccines is quite positive, with many inoculated avoiding infections and those that still get infected reporting mild symptoms, when considering the overwhelming majority. The vaccination campaign has played a crucial role in reducing the mortality rate and hospitalisations. Although hospitalisations are being managed well, without being overwhelming, there are indications that we will be getting booster vaccines within the year.
Limited timeframe of immunity
Scientific reports suggest that immunity offered through some vaccines reduces after a couple of weeks. In order to maintain a high degree of immunity, we should expect that boosters will be given. Common perception is that the COVID-19 vaccines guarantee immunity for six months.
Throughout the progression of the COVID-19 pandemic, every few weeks or so we hear about the emergence of different variants. For a time, the Kent variant emerging from the UK was deemed as the most dominant, with the Delta one now establishing itself as the most threatening. New variants pose threats to vaccine effectiveness, with boosters being required to keep up. One must also keep in mind that being exposed to the infection or vaccine creates cells to combat the disease more effectively if it is encountered again, boding well for long-term immunity.
It is important to set realistic expectations going forward. Arriving at a stage where we will have zero COVID-19 cases can no longer be considered as a tangible possibility. With the evolution of the disease, we must come to terms with the fact that COVID-19 will become an endemic, similar to the flu. With the advancements in medicine and exposure, we would expect to have improved immunity going forward, with mortality rates constantly decreasing. Although some might quote smallpox as a disease which was completely eradicated, COVID-19 is a different beast. Smallpox was caused by two variants and held a thirty percent mortality rate, and it took over one hundred years to annihilate and was easier to diagnose and isolate.
The way forward
Vaccines and boosters should not only be perceived as a means of managing the emergence of COVID-19 cases and severe symptoms, but also as the key for the return to normal life. When considering the disastrous impacts on the economy, society and psychology, it would be folly to assume that heavy restrictions can be justified beyond a circuit breaker when hospitals are overwhelmed.