EDITORIAL | Don't drop guard against COVID-19

The vaccine release and rollout along with the relaxation of restrictions have prompted many citizens to let their guard down against COVID-19.

Many, it appears, are tired of the health protocols and may no longer be bothered to maintain a reasonable amount of physical distance from other people. Many have reverted to old habits such as holding and attending gatherings, which were strictly prohibited and frowned upon during the first few months of the pandemic. Many are walking about with face shields pushed upwards to cover the head and not the face, or face masks pushed down to the chin or hanging by one ear.

It seems that many are forgetting that we are only in the initial stages of vaccination. Health experts say we still have a long way to run to achieve herd immunity when most of the population is considered protected from the infectious disease. Many of the few that have been inoculated have received only one of two jabs, while others are still even debating whether to get vaccinated at all.

Meanwhile, health frontliners are sounding the alarm that they are seeing a surge in cases, with many facilities in the metro now operating at full capacity. The possibility of healthcare systems buckling under pressure is still real.

As World Health Organization emergency expert Mike Ryan cautioned late last year, “vaccines do not equal zero COVID.”

Ryan said governments have to sustain strong control measures for some time to prevent a spike in transmissions or even a pandemic yoyo.

Of course, government control measures can only achieve so much, and it is up to us individuals to decide whether or not we want to follow the health standards. Ultimately, it is up to us and our determination to prevent the spread of the virus, to treat those infected, to avert surges in cases, and perhaps even stave off future pandemics.