Now is time to learn to live with COVID – and expand arsenal of tools against it

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Now is time to learn to live with COVID – and expand arsenal of tools against it

NEWYou can now listen to Fox News articles! A group of 2,700 truckers known as the "freedom convoy" has made its way to Ottawa to protest mandato

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A group of 2,700 truckers known as the “freedom convoy” has made its way to Ottawa to protest mandatory vaccination as a literal roadblock against truckers re-entering Canada from the U.S.

This, despite the fact that 90% of truckers have at least two vaccine shots, and there is a high rate of COVID/omicron spread despite vaccination. The requirement also ignores the fact that other countries, including Israel and the European Union, have made allowances for recovery from COVID (natural immunity) as a form of protection that is just as valid as vaccines. 

This acknowledgement is in keeping with the growing reality that no immunity is enough by itself and all immunity against COVID is helpful.

COVID – FACTS, FICTION AND FEAR

A more effective public health strategy might be to ask for rapid testing at border crossings, rather than to insist on a rigid outdated proof of vaccination, especially considering that omicron is everywhere and targeting truckers is a poor approach both medically and politically.

Consider that truckers are true front-line workers. They are bringing food and other staples into people’s lives. They can’t work remotely, and they have been braving the pandemic since the beginning. 

Reuters reports that 90% of Canada’s cross-border truckers and 77% of the Canadian population have had at least two shots, so compliance is certainly not the issue. The Canadian Trucking Alliance, which represents 4,500 carriers, opposes the protest, which shows they are out of touch. 

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who has said the convoy does not “represent the views of Canadians,” is currently in quarantine because his son has COVID, yet is reportedly being moved to a more secure location. He is out of touch as well, and we certainly hope he doesn’t spread COVID in the process of being moved by his security detail from one location to the next.

People walk beside trucks parked along Wellington Street during a rally against COVID-19 restrictions on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, on Saturday, Jan. 29, 2022.

People walk beside trucks parked along Wellington Street during a rally against COVID-19 restrictions on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, on Saturday, Jan. 29, 2022.
(Justin Tang/The Canadian Press via AP)

This is occurring at a time when COVID case and death rates are plummeting in Canada, as well as the Northeastern U.S., and other countries, including the U.K., are pulling back on all restrictions. This is exactly what Canada should be doing and what we should be considering in the U.S. as well. 

The mental health toll of rigid superimposed mandates and passports has been enormous and it isn’t clear that they have been working. Masks likely have some value if high quality and properly worn in high-traffic areas where there is a lot of COVID spread, but government-imposed mask mandates at schools and businesses can do more harm than good. 

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Now is a time to learn to live with COVID. Now is a time to expand our arsenal of tools against it. 

Government efforts should be focused on expanding the availability of the extremely scarce but effective anti-viral Paxlovid, the monoclonal antibody that works against omicron, Sotrovimab, and countering the continued scarcity of rapid home tests (despite the Biden administration’s highly advertised giveaway).

A free N-95 mask or two mailed to your local pharmacy or health center is not the answer; it is more a symbol of further constriction rather than a public health windfall. The public needs to pivot from restrictions and scolding rhetoric to providing more tools. 

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A step in the right direction occurred this week when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention finally revealed data which showed that by fall and the upsurge of delta cases, “people who had survived a previous infection had lower case rates than persons who were vaccinated alone.” 

The governments of both Canada and the U.S. need to pay attention to this data and finally acknowledge natural immunity as a component at least short-term after infection. Also, it’s time once and for all to shift from the stick to the carrot.

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