By Laura Keil, Publisher/Editor

It feels unfair that our common enemy can shape-shift while we’re stuck in our regular old human bodies, armed with—well, nothing. Unless you’ve been immunized.

I admit I’m a little shocked by these new variants. In a recent story by CTV News, the reporter interviewed a doctor who spoke of people in their 30s and 50s being in the ICU, receiving treatment reserved for the very worst cases. Many of these deathly-ill people had no underlying health conditions.

In other words, that could be you and I.

Deaths in long-term care facilities have plummeted since mass vaccinations took place among the elderly. But most younger folk are still waiting. The variants are shape-shifting and spreading gives them an opportunity to mutate. And right now, new infections in B.C. are at an all-time high.

Luckily many Robson Valley residents 18+ will be getting their first shots starting next week. Even one shot reduces the likelihood of severe complications from COVID-19. Plus preliminary evidence suggests that the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines help prevent the spread of the virus in addition to improving health outcomes.

Still, variants of the virus are proving more dangerous, and herd immunity requires that a certain number of people in a population be vaccinated. A vaccine that’s 90% effective at blocking transmission would need to reach at least 55% of the population to achieve temporary herd immunity if social distancing measures like face masks and work-from-home mandates remain in place, according to a model developed at Imperial College London (According to the same study, a vaccine would need to reach roughly 67 per cent of people to provide herd immunity if social distancing measures were dropped entirely).

Many researchers say reaching a herd-immunity threshold looks unlikely due to factors like vaccine hesitancy, the emergence of new variants and the delayed arrival of vaccines approved for children.

The bottom line: people who choose not to vaccinate will not be protected by people who do. And letting the virus continue to infect people will lead to variants that could become increasingly deadly, nixing the gains made by current vaccines, and putting us all at risk—again and again.

Our best bet right now is to double-down on our mask-wearing and exposure to other people. And secondly, book an appointment to get immunized.

If we can slow the spread of deadlier variants, we have some hope of getting back to normal.