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Letters / Test case for herd immunity?

It seems that things are still getting worse on the Covid front at the moment. Whatever the reasons why Shetland is so bad currently, it does look as though we are going to end up as being a test case for herd immunity by the back door.

This isn’t deliberate, I just think we’ve been spectacularly unlucky with the combination of appalling weather and islander testing diligence, and maybe the numbers don’t fully represent the true situation here, but it looks very bad.

So we’ll currently be the focus of attention of virologists and epidemiologists the world over as to what happens when a mild form of Covid-19 is allowed to run largely unchecked through an entire, isolated, fully-vaccinated population.

Will the health services be able to cope? Will the economy and services be able to function with up to 10 per cent of the workforce being off work for a week or more at the same time? We’re about to find out folks.

Looking at reactions to Shetland News articles on Facebook, I have to take issue with the ones that go along the lines of ‘Everyone’s going to get it, there’s nothing you can do about it, we should all just get on with it’ – you know the sort of thing.

I’d have to question people who have this outlook, mainly because it isn’t true. If the SARS-CoV-2 virus maintained its own database of people who had been infected so far, and those who hadn’t, then I’d be worried, in the same way I’d be worried if I didn’t have a TV licence, and I’d maybe expect a knock on my door from a menacing looking virus with a clipboard. It’s not like that. Viruses are notoriously rubbish at admin, so if you keep out of their way, they won’t come looking for you, because they don’t know where you live.

So it’s the usual old story at the moment, but with bells on. Try to avoid contact with people outside your social group, maintain excellent hygiene, and keep a two metre distance. Especially, wear a good mask, an FFP2 or FFP3 if you can.

These will protect both you and other people. Think of microbiologists by a fume cabinet – they don’t just pull their jumpers up when they’re pipetting noxious compounds – they’re PPE’d up to the eyeballs. This is how it needs to be.

I’m currently working on the assumption that one in 10 people I come across have infectious Covid. I’ve no idea if this is close, but it feels about right. This being the case, I assume that when I’ve been around Tesco for instance, I’ve shared a space with at least one person who’s shedding the virus. So, if my mask has protected my mucous membranes, then virus particles are probably on my mask, my clothes and my skin.

So, I make a firm rule not to lick my clothes, myself, or anyone else, until they’ve been thoroughly washed. It’s tough I know, but I think it makes sense. Just be careful out there.

This won’t last forever. In the same way that this spike has taken off exponentially, it will fall off really quickly once the pool of humans whose behaviours expose them to infection starts to shrink.

I think that at the moment, it’s good to try to stay out of that pool if you possibly can.

Rob Jones