COVID-19 Vaccination: Beware of Self-Satisfaction

The number of daily coronavirus cases is decreasing without, however, becoming negligeable as the Delta variant, known to be more contagious and dangerous, is roaming the country while the vaccination drive progresses at an accelerated pace although a third dose now seems to be necessary: The picture of the pandemic that emerges reflects a reality filled with contradictions and tension.

Contradictions because one cannot say with certainty whether we are about to see the light at the end of the tunnel or we are on the brink of a dramatic resurgence of the pandemic with an outbreak of this darned Delta variant now prevalent throughout the world. Tension because this in-between situation drives the authorities to implement measures that are restrictive for the population and whose objectives are not always that clear, the more so that their implementation seems to vary greatly. 

Over the last few days, a number of news stories and reports have come out, praising—and rightly so—the outstanding effort made by the health authorities to vaccinate at accelerated pace. Having become an example in this respect in Asia, Cambodia can justifiably express its pride.

Except that vaccination does not mean the end of the epidemic. One must be cautious as to the optimism generated by vaccination as the head of the World Health Organization in Cambodia felt bound to point out a few days ago. Vaccinated people are not 100-percent immunized and can get sick although this should prevent them from developing a severe or even deadly form of the disease. They can, however, pass on COVID-19 although they are significantly less contagious than people who have not been vaccinated. 

In other words, vaccination at the stage at which it now is does not prevent the coronavirus from reproducing and spreading across the country. There will come a time when it will fade away. In short, vaccination at the stage at which it is today does not prevent the coronavirus from reproducing and spreading around the country. There will come a time when it will fade away when it is not able to find unimmunized hosts to reproduce, epidemiologists say. As long as vaccines can be effective against future variants, which has not yet been demonstrated. 

Finally, the amount of energy deployed on communication on vaccination could be counterproductive. In 2020, while the country was spared the pandemic and was looking with a wry smile at the major powers plunged into full lockdown, this excess of satisfaction had inundated the media. Aren’t we the best, we would hear everywhere. We know what happened since.  

When the situation became critical following the “Feb. 20 community outbreak,” the authorities took the confinement measures that were called for while pulling out all the stops to import as fast as possible the necessary vaccines. 

Where we are today, self-satisfaction is no more than before called for. This only muddies the waters regarding preventive measures that are seemingly still necessary and that the population must adhere to. In order to ensure this, measures must be proportionate to the health risks, as well as to the economic and social ones, and they must be clearly explained and demonstrated crucial to those who have been suffering for months from having lost their jobs or are every day more and more on the brink of the abyss.    

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