Unanswered Question: Is Social Distancing the best method of curbing the Covid 19 Pandemic?
When we thought Covid 19 is in its last stages, India, one of the biggest manufacturers of Covid 19 vaccines has just lost around 2000 people in a single day as of 21 April 2021. I am not saying Indians are naïve at observing Safety/Standard Operating Procedures but this shows how the whole Covid 19 situation can be unpredictable.
Taking this example of India, we might say the companies manufacturing the vaccines are not directly owned by India, and logistically, you might think India doesn’t have to import vaccines since they have the biggest Covid 19 vaccine making facility in the country, because the nearer the better. But instead India is importing vaccines and also it has allowed tests for a number of other vaccines apart from the AstraZeneca ones it’s producing. This brings some ideas in the plate. One, is it because of the population of India that other vaccines have to be imported? Two is it because they don’t want the vaccines they are producing? Or is it because the vaccines they are producing are not enough and mind you they are just manufacturers and may be distribution might be a whole different process? Or is it because they are variants of Coronavirus present in India which may be dealt with particular vaccines? Are the people who died of Covid 19 among those that were vaccinated?
The above questions have to be answered? I also agree that my notions can be objected upon, but it is difficult to answer these questions without considering science. The answers I got when I was writing this are mostly generalizations from the experiments at hand. Some explained how the vaccines do a better job at preventing the spread of existing variants of Covid and even reduce their impacts. The good news is that most vaccines are responding to the existing variants so well, but the million dollar question is “what if there is a new variant somewhere that cannot be curbed by the existing vaccines?”
You can see that the answer to this imaginary question, is not in the present vaccines, of which they are well experimented and are working well as far as preventing new variants is concerned. Although the vaccines also slow down the effects of the variants really well, the dynamic questions above are answered with another question; what if social distancing and quarantining could be that answer since they have also been working well? We realize that we go back to the old saying that “prevention is better than cure”. I think whether a new variant comes or not, social distancing and the other SOPs are still better.
Today it’s still worrisome to hear someone saying “We were packed like sardines in that meeting, since they did temperature checks and we wore masks etc.” Temperature checks and temperature guns have been used in public places to prevent the spread of Covid 19 by checking higher level temperatures in people with a supposition that the ones with temperatures higher than the normal, may be sick and therefore should not mix with those whose temps are low. But this has shortfalls. Although temperature checks and masks are instrumental in the fight against COVID, I think we should not substitute them with social distancing nor quarantine either.
In the war against COVID 19, social distancing, quarantine, temperature checks, wearing face masks and usage of hand sanitizers have been helpful before vaccines were there. But now vaccines are there and are even more helpful. However people have high hopes in the vaccines like they did in the SOPs like having temperature checks. People have had high hopes in temperature checks which only reveal if one has a normal temperature or has caught a fever, which is one of the earliest symptoms of a viral disease. The rest leaves us with social or physical distancing shall we be in the presence of asymptomatic people whose temperatures are not showing any signs of sickness.
Nevertheless, the temperature checks have been instrumental at sieving who mingles with who at public events, and should never be underestimated. All I am saying is where we have questions with the COVID situation, the best way to prevent the coronavirus from spreading was and is through social/physical distancing and quarantining.
Overtime, others have depended highly on facemasks. But masks also have their own flaws since they may carry infections if exposed to Coronavirus, and if not washed accordingly or if not disposed off properly, they may transmit new infections to the one who has touched their infectious surfaces and touched membranes. This is my basic assumption, you can add more on infectious surfaces, or object.
“What if there is another variant somewhere out there causing these new deaths? And what if the existing vaccines are not working as good as they should be on that imaginary variant?” These questions are not to undermine the work of specialists who have worked really hard to come up with such vaccines and who are doing endless researches on the new the Covid 19 variants. Nor are they an excuse for you not to get vaccinated. They are there to stimulate you to be vigilant to practice the rest of the SOPs. If you have been vaccinated or as the saying goes these days, if you have taken a jab, don’t neglect the SOPs for the sake of others. You can be a surface carrying the Coronavirus, and in the long run spreading the disease to unsuspecting people.
Mind you the COVID issue has been painted with “dis n dat”, a lot of defiance and even conspiracy theories. But before you quarrel with me, even with anyone else, remember to first practice the necessary SOPs, at least if not for you, do it for the sake of others. As you argue with others on Covid 19 issues on whether the whole thing is conspiracy theory or not, know that the theories may be untrue, but Covid 19 is real and it is killing people. Not that those who died did not follow SOPs, some did, and not that SOPs are the perfect genie that will automatically save your life, but because prevention of a disease is always better than the cure.
Since we are not used to staying away from our friends or families, since important events like funerals and weddings still are taking place along with worship services in some parts of the world, and since watching football in homes of close neighbors is still happening, the list is endless, we still have to apply the physical or social distance rules. It’s easy to rebel against your government’s orders on Covid curfews and stuff, but whether you trust it or not still do whatever you can to prevent the spread of the virus.
Now that vaccines are here everybody else is excited, but should we trust them? Yes! We should and most of them have high chances to prevent the spread of Covid, but I still think we shouldn’t neglect the rest of the social distancing and quarantining measures in their place. Mind you, the vaccines are slowing down infection rates, but they do not heal you when you are already sick. So keep up the good work of quarantining.
I know it’s boring to live like this, but we will make it. Don’t ignore the rest of the SOPs because there are vaccines being rolled out, Covid 19 is not yet over, but it’s near you in the name of that hand shake, that hug, that kiss and that surface. It’s not omnipresent, but it is present, and don’t panic and also at the same time panic if you are not observing the SOPs. Treat the whole COVID issue as an experiment, but with a lot of other validated and invalidated results, and social distancing being a validated one.
With Covid “half a loaf is not better than none.” Be fully geared up to still prevent the spread of the disease and don’t be over excited with the vaccines, and also don’t undermine them. All SOPs and vaccines are important. But Social distancing is simple and yet a fundamental method of preventing an infectious disease and if you can, stay home or whatever place you will quarantine at, make sure family members are not rolling stones themselves. Do we have to learn the hard way again?
I know we are impatient, and we would like to see our beloved sports men and women in full stadiums, we long to hug again, we long to attend weddings and office meetings with no facemasks again, and we long to mingle and be human, but we have a deadly virus that can only be curbed by the old evangelist’s message which has always been, “Please practice SOPs!” Standard or safety operating procedures against COVID 19 are helpful, but among them, I think social distancing and quarantining are massively helpful.
An Opinion By Alfred Dzaoneni
(A Media Enthusiast and social Commentator).