Editorial: Another communal COVID-fighting effort needed in 2022

Even a small percentage of a large number, is a large number

Even a small percentage of a large number, is a large number.

That’s what we need to keep front and centre in our minds as we head into 2022 with COVID-19 numbers hitting heights we haven’t seen before over the course of this pandemic.

This is not the editorial we hoped we would be publishing this time last year. The year 2021 saw our first real virus spikes on Vancouver Island, yes, with the Delta variant hitting hard. But we were also seeing vaccines begin to become available, with the promise that we could all likely be vaccinated by the fall. We hoped that this would be enough to bring us out of the phase of COVID ruling out lives.

But it was not to be. A new variant, Omicron, has taken hold, and it spreads so quickly that almost before we knew it case counts were rising exponentially from week to week, sometimes even day to day. We have not yet hit the peak.

The good news is that the new variant appears to be less deadly, and less likely to cause serious illness than previous variants. The bad news is that it spreads like wildfire and our vaccines are likely not as effective at preventing us from contracting it, especially if we have not yet had our booster shots — for which most of us are not yet eligible.

We are also being told now unequivocally that COVID-19 is airborne.

So where does that leave us as we navigate into January 2022?

Mass vaccination clinics are on their way again, so we should all be starting to look at being able to get our boosters faster. But it’s really back to the basics. Not congregating indoors with groups of people and trying to get airflow going if you are around people outside your normal bubble. Limit your contacts. Properly fitted masks that cover the nose and mouth are recommended. Wash your hands. Limit travel.

And of course it’s vital that you isolate yourself if you feel sick. This is always good advice, as you shouldn’t be passing along any kind of illness to others, but even more important with COVID. The Omicron variant has symptoms similar to the common cold, so you can no longer just assume you’ve caught something seasonal.

Because while Omicron may not be as deadly as Delta, the sheer size of the outbreak can bring our healthcare system to its knees. Through scale alone, ICUs may be in danger of filling to capacity.

So we need to come together once again, a communal effort, to fight this virus that has taken such a bite out of our lives, and hope for better days ahead.