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New Zealand's longest-running online daily news and commentary publication, now in its 25th year. The opinion pieces presented here are not purported to be fact but reasonable effort is made to ensure accuracy.

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You are all going to die

6 September 2021

Today I have bad news. Everyone reading this is going to die.

Yep, death is an unavoidable fact of life. There can not be one without the other.

All life is programmed to grow old and die because without this designed obsolescence, the population of such life forms would rapidly grow to exceed the amount of resource available to sustain it. And, since the purpose of life is to refine the DNA of the life-form itself, it is essential that the old disappear in order to make room for new generations, each of which has the potential to be even more carefully matched to its environment.

We like to think that as individuals, we're important. Sadly, we're not. We are just a mechanism for the evolution and survival of the species that is defined by its DNA.

With that cheery thought firmly implanted in your mind, read on...

While we all sit here in lockdown, safe from the evil that is the CV19 virus in its many variants, we really do need to be thinking very hard about the future.

Although NZ talks about "elimination" by way of lockdown, this is not the end-game.

We will never eliminate the virus, no matter how hard we lock down because we still have a porous border due to MIQ stuff-ups etc. Even if MIQ functions perfectly well there is always the possibility that new strains of the virus may have a far longer incubation period and not become "active" and detectable during the 14 days of isolation.

The truth is that everyone will catch CV19 eventually. The virus will transition from being a pandemic to becoming endemic; another one of the many pathogens that we just learn to live with.

So does this mean we should just throw our hands up right now and say "what the hell, let's just get back to normal"?

Of course not and I'll explain why.

There are two ways you can gain a degree of immunity to the virus. You can get vaccinated or you can catch the virus and recover. According to medical opinion the best way is to do both... get vaccinated and then catch the virus. Apparently that produces the very best immune response and will likely protect you against many yet-to-be-seen variants against which vaccination alone will be ineffective.

So why, if catching CV19 is so inevitable, are we all locked down right now? Aren't we simply putting off the inevitable?

No, far from it.

The key thing is to get as much of our population vaccinated as possible *before* we allow CV19 to enter the community. Vaccination may not stop you from actually contracting the virus but all the evidence proves that the effect of the virus on someone who's been vaccinated is far less than it is on the unvaccinated.

This can be best illustrated by the situation in Israel where infection rates are going through the roof, despite very high levels of vaccination in the general population.

At first it might be tempting to think that this is a failure of the vaccination program but it's not. Infection rates do not tell the whole story.

If you look at the death rates in Israel you'll see that these numbers are not following the huge upswing in infections. Most of those becoming infected in Israel have the protection of the vaccine and are either asymptomatic or suffer little more than cold-like symptoms. By comparison, the unvaccinated are far more likely to end up in hospital or on a mortuary slab.

And of course, once the vaccinated have been infected by the actual virus, they become "super-immunised" and are unlikely to suffer further problems with CV19 as we know it today.

This is the reason we have a lockdown and need to keep CV19 out of *our* community, until we have sufficiently high levels of vaccination.

Once we're all vaxed-up then we can allow CV19 to run free without overloading our hospitals and needlessly endangering those who've not had the chance to get their jabs.

With luck, NZ will get to a level of vaccination where we can dispense with the task of keeping the virus behind the iron-curtain of our MIQ system by Christmas. With this in mind, New Year's day might be the best time to relax our attitudes to "elimination". The warm summer days mean that we'll naturally be less likely to spread or catch the virus due to the outdoor lifestyle and enough of us will be vaccinated that the impact on our health system will hopefully be manageable.

If the current "expert" opinion prevails, we may even see "Covid Parties" where healthy, fit, low-risk, fully immunized people knowingly mingle with those who have the virus, so as to get that "super immunization" that will provide valuable extra protection as we head into winter.

By this time next year I honestly believe that CV19 will be "just a fact of life" and most of us will have immune systems that are sufficiently primed that we need no longer be petrified by the prospect of catching it.

Of course I could be wrong... what do you think?

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