by: Jessica Legg
As of December 10, 2020
When this page was first started, the goal was to talk in general about medical technology. At the time, there was a lot of talk about what types of masks were best, and how we could make them safer. DIY hand sanitizer and masks became popular crafts on YouTube, followed by videos debunking both as ineffective or misleading. Despite these setbacks, a community grew on the internet that spread accurate information and saw many nurses, doctors, and other medical professionals explaining how and why the mandates being implemented worked. Vaccination was going to be just a small part of it, discussing how vaccine testing and use might change due to the methods laboratories have been forced to use in the face of the pandemic. The idea was a bit patchwork and not specific enough to make a solid page. Then in November, the month when everything seems to be happening, a US company came forward with a possible vaccine1.
On November 20, 2020, Pfizer Inc. filed for emergency authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to start large scale production of their vaccine1. They along with their partner BioNTech in Germany claim a 95% effectiveness in their current trials, though they are unsure as to whether the vaccine is effective for the older population1. The emergency authorization would allow them to begin producing and distributing the vaccine before the test trials have finished, but they are far enough along that the odds of adverse side effects are minimal1. The companies are promising 30 million doses by January 2021, though if they do not get approval soon that number may be reduced1. They are not the only company close to starting vaccine production. The company Moderna has an almost complete vaccine which Canada has pre-ordered, and the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca in the United Kingdom have one that is effective in people over 70 which they say should bring results in by Christmas1 2. Both vaccines require two or three doses to work, and therefore will take longer to vaccinate everyone3. It will take at least a few months if not a year for enough vaccines to be made for regulations to be relaxed and begin to go back to where they were before. It is likely that throughout 2021 masks and social distancing will still have to be used3. It is estimated that at least 67% of the population needs to get inoculated to achieve herd immunity3.
These results are all promising, especially because in March most experts were estimating at least 12 or 18 months before there would be working vaccines. Those estimates, along with many others made over quarantine have been proven inaccurate, which is unsurprising, as an international pandemic is not an event that lends itself to predictability. Constantly changing information makes creating a page about vaccinations difficult, as the beginning of December has shown. As of December 1, 2020, the vaccine still has to be approved for mass production and distribution in any country, though several were promising final decisions soon3. As of December 9, 2020, Canada is due to receive 30,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine by Monday (December 14), with a total of 249,000 by the end of the year4. Priority will go to seniors and staff in long-term care homes, then to anyone over the age of 804. Most provinces will include essential hospital staff in the first rounds of inoculation, but the focus will be on at-risk populations4. We are in what could be called the final stretch of the COVID-19 pandemic, but it will not be the last of the pandemics. With global warming and further encroachment on previously undisturbed habitats, it is likely that there will be an increase in outbreaks of unknown diseases on a similar scale. The question moving forward is: will this pandemic be taken as a learning opportunity to put plans in place so future outbreaks are more contained? As comforting as it would be to say yes, these last months have been so terrible that there is no way we would want to go through it again, the reality is many people do not like being told what to do.
This pandemic has brought out the best and the worst in people. Anti-vaxxers—people who refuse to vaccinate themselves or their children—have been around since vaccination was first invented, but in recent years they have been a growing vocal minority5. There has been an increase in childhood cases of deadly, vaccine-preventable diseases since the 1980s, with Andrew Wakefield’s alleged measles study being one of the most infamous5. This increase was not just seen in Canada and the United States, but also in many countries in Europe including the United Kingdom and France5. There are people who will push against mandatory vaccinations against COVID-19, claiming Charter or Constitutional Rights, and the government has yet to address how they will handle the topic6. They, along with anti-maskers—people who refuse to wear masks despite government mandates—show there is a decrease in trust of government bodies6. There has also been an increase in the number of people who do not necessarily distrust the government, but who just do not want to deal with all the regulations anymore. It has been months since COVID-19 reached Canada and everything was shut down, and people are not able to wait anymore. The next few weeks will be crucial to seeing if the number of cases increases dramatically, or if people use their common sense and stay at home over the holidays and do not visit other people, or go on vacation. The upcoming switch of the President of the United States will also be a factor, as citizens have already shown unrest before the new party is in.
This is a rapidly evolving situation with many moving parts that needs to be taken one step at a time. Keeping people calm and following instructions are the most important tasks right now, then once it is confirmed there is a vaccine on the way, the government should release a detailed plan of how it will be distributing it. Whatever happens, it is not going to be easy or organized, so sitting tight and hoping that the right people will be consulted is the best course of action right now. This pandemic should be taken as a learning opportunity to prevent another shutdown on this scale, but it will be up to what people do after it is done that will show whether or not this situation will be learned from. A lot of people just want to forget it. A lot of historians and medical professionals say that would be a bad idea.
The Pfizer Logo
A child being vaccinated
Drawing a vaccine
1. CBC News. "Pfizer Seeking Emergency Use of Its COVID-19 Vaccine in U.S. | CBC
News." CBCnews. November 20, 2020. Accessed November 20, 2020.
2. Kirka, Danica. "Oxford Scientists Expect COVID-19 Vaccine Data by Christmas." CTV
News. November 19, 2020. Accessed November 20, 2020.
3. Willett, Julian D. S. "COMMENTARY: How Pfizer's and Moderna's MRNA-based
COVID-19 Vaccines Work." Global News. November 22, 2020.
4. The College of Physicians of Philadelphia. "History of Anti-vaccination Movements."
History of Vaccines. 2020. Accessed November 20, 2020.
5. Herring, Jason. "Alberta Sees Record 1,731 New COVID-19 Cases as Hundreds of
Anti-maskers Rally in Calgary." Calgary Herald. November 29, 2020.