In the first eight months of this year, the rapid succession of dominant COVID variants has gone from Delta through Omicron BA.1, BA.2, BA.2.12.1 and BA.5. On average, that amounts to a new wave every other month. Each has been significantly more transmissible and immune-resistant than its predecessor. Two more which could well challenge BA.5 have since appeared and have already been detected in North America: BA.2.75 and BA.5.1. With a million new global infections officially reported every day (and likely 10 million in reality), we’re giving this virus every opportunity to continue spawning even more transmissible variants. While we’ve been lucky that one of Omicron’s mutations happened to make it less deadly than Delta, there’s no reason to assume that change won’t be reversed in subsequent mutations. Apart from what now passes for leadership in Canadian politics, does any thinking person really believe that we’ll get off this treadmill anytime soon? Yet, as a province and as a nation, we’re now less equipped than ever to manage these damaging and too-often-deadly variant-driven waves.
That’s not to say that there is no hope. Research is continuing on vaccine candidates which may offer more general protection. One such candidate is Mosaic-8, which has gotten to the animal-testing stage and shows promise of offering reasonable protection against all coronaviruses, not just COVID variants. Testing is also underway for second-generation inhaled vaccines which are easier to administer, more rapidly effective and can be stored at room temperature. But, even if those or similar vaccines do pan out, it would likely be another one-to-three years before they are approved and become widely available. In the meantime, this is the pandemic that we have. Wishing for it to be gone is futile. Instead, it’s up to us to significantly raise the bar in protecting ourselves, our families and our communities, and to demand better support from our leaders.
How to better protect yourself and your family: Click here for a list of common-sense suggestions.