By Ming Wang, MD, PhD. Published on Tennessean.com, May 17, 2021, and Nashville Christian Family June 2021.
Why is it so important to get vaccinated right now? The answer is simple and clear: to win the race of ending the pandemic!
It is a critical time for our nation right now, a tight race between the speed of new variant generation of the virus and the speed of vaccination.
What determines the speed of the new variant generation of the virus is the rate at which it is causing new infections. When the virus infects a new person who has not yet mounted an immune response, the virus’ replication is dramatically increased.
Since a variant is generated through errors in the replication, this results in the production of new variants.
Overall, we are currently in the last 10 meters of a 100-meter track race.
The two “runners” — the new variant virus and the vaccination — are neck and neck at this time!
If we increase the speed of the vaccination runner, we may win the whole competition by passing the new variant virus runner in this final leg of the race!
If, however, we don’t slow down the new infections (due to our inability to achieve the 80% vaccination quota needed to reach herd immunity), the new variant virus can then beat our vaccination runner, we may therefore end up losing the whole race in these final 10 meters.
What happens if we do lose the race right now?
It may cause a potentially similar or even much worse situation in late 2021 than we experienced in the past year, and as a result, we may be thrusted back into the darkest days of COVID, with new lockdowns that may potentially further negatively affect our lives and livelihoods, and destroy our economy!
If the speed of generation of the new variant viruses beats the speed of our vaccination, the existing vaccines may become increasingly less effective since they were all designed to combat the original virus strains, not the new variant viruses. If that happens, the vaccinations that have already been done on millions of us may end up being wasted.
Then, why not just make new vaccine then to fight these new variants?
Research of any new vaccine takes months to years, and furthermore, when the number of new variants becomes very large, it may in fact make the creation of new vaccines exponentially more difficult or even impossible!
What is the bottom line?
Very simple: get vaccinated ASAP to protect yourself and your loved ones (vaccines have nearly 100% protection against COVID death) and to help all of us win the race.
Let’s overcome our polarization (COVID is not a political issue, it is a medical one) and find common ground, which is: we are all in the same race, in the last 10 meters of the 100-meter run.
Let’s slow down the new variant virus runner (majority of the infections now occur mainly in the unvaccinated) and increase the speed of the vaccination runner.
Let’s finish the last 10 meters strong, rather than risking losing the whole race.