4th wave incoming.
British Columbia has a vax rate over 80% for first jabs with second jabs catching up fast. We also have exponential growth in “case” numbers and hospitalizations and admissions to the ICU are rising as well.
Our Health Minister and Public Health Officer have called a press conference tomorrow where, I expect, they will announce some restrictions – almost certainly travel restrictions, earlier bar closings and, perhaps, a return of the indoor mask mandate.
They will also probably have some unkind words for the unvaccinated although I would be very surprised if any form of vax passport was introduced.
While these measures will be pitched as public health responses to the 4th Delta wave they are, in fact, political responses to a fearful population a vocal portion of which is demanding “action”. The population is fearful because, it turns out that even a successful vaccination program, and BC has many shots in arms, does not actually stop COVID. While this may be blamed on the unvaccinated, the evidence from Israel and Gibraltar and Iceland suggests even high levels of vaccination, while helpful as to outcome, does not stop the Delta 4th wave.
I suspect Dr. Bonnie Henry already knew this. Minister Dix is a smart guy and likely knew this was coming. But the vax was oversold as immunizing when it isn’t. For the fearful, the vax was “the solution”. Now that it turns out to be pretty much a therapeutic rather than a sterilizing vaccine the fearful feel even more vulnerable. Which, in turn means they are advocating for restrictions, the harsher the better. Which is what, I suspect, Dix and Henry will be responding to tomorrow. (Remember, Henry did not impose BC’s first mask mandate, it was imposed by the government at the request of the BC Retail Council – public health had very little to do with it.)
Frightened people demand solutions, the more draconian the better. Politicians have to deal with those demands. The new school year is around the corner, the COVIDians – double vaxxed for safety and masking even without the mandate – are petrified that the Delta variant will kill them. They want the government to back up their fear with the traditional “strict measures”.
It will be interesting to see which way BC jumps. Will it continue along the path to more complete re-opening even at the risk of a rise in “cases” – as Alberta has done – or will it start the mask mandate/travel restriction regime again? Politically, this is a question of whether the government values fear over freedom. From a public health perspective there does not seem to be much that will stop the Delta 4th wave – at least anything which is open for public discussion.
I suspect fear is going to win tomorrow. I hope it doesn’t, but the fearful are a very motivated bunch. I hope that Dr. Henry stops short of re-imposing masks but, even more, I hope she takes a moment to remind people to take a walk in the sun, eat well, lose a bit of weight and rely on their vaccines, their natural immunity and the systems which support it.
The 4th Delta wave is upon us. I suspect the vast majority of us will be just fine.
UPDATE: I was wrong. Fear did not win this round. The only significant announcement was a vax requirement for people working in LTC facilities. While I doubt this will make much difference there is a logic driven rather than fear driven reason for such a mandate.