As impossible as it seems, there is, at long last, what appears to be a faint glimmer of hope on the horizon. On Monday, pharmaceutical giant Pfizer announced that it has developed a vaccine, which it says is 90 per cent effective in preventing COVID-19 infection.
British Columbians can’t be blamed for letting out a huge sigh of relief at what feels like the first hint of good news we’ve had since this collective nightmare began 10 months ago.
But if you do, we simply ask that you keep that sigh inside your mask for the time being.
Despite this undeniably encouraging development, the time for celebrating is – well, we don’t really know when it will be, but it’s not now.
We are far from out of the woods, with B.C. recording record high infection rates on an almost daily basis and renewed restrictions on where, how and with whom we can interact.
At the moment, these new rules – which, admittedly, were rolled out over the weekend in a somewhat confusing fashion – are expected to be in effect for just 14 days. But just how much they will be loosened at end of this two-week block will depend on how well we manage to behave in the interim.
If we can reign ourselves in and forgo meeting with our social networks outside of Facebook for the time being, we may soon find ourselves enjoying a bit of freedom again.
But if we can’t, it is not impossible that we will find ourselves in another virtual lock-down of one form or another. That’s bad for people’s mental and physical health and it could end up being the death blow for many small businesses that have somehow managed to hang on this long.
For now, it’s a waiting game, albeit one with some pretty strict rules. Once this potential vaccine has passed rigorous safety checks, consider that there will be hundreds of millions of people potentially queuing up for that shot in the arm or spray up the nose or whatever form it takes.
First in line will be health care workers, and rightly so. After that, it’s fair to suggest that the elderly and people with serious health conditions should be given priority. Politics and money are going to play a role in who gets it next, that’s just an unfortunate truth about our global society.
The upshot is that it’s going to be a while until most of us who want the vaccine will have the opportunity to get it. Think about the effort that went into getting a COVID-19 test in the early days of the pandemic. Or a roll of toilet paper, for that matter.
When the day finally comes (and it will) that we can declare this virus vanquished, it will be time to party. And what a party it will be (masks and social distancing optional). But we’re not there quite yet.