Infectious disease specialist answers Covid and vaccine questions

One of the country’s foremost infectious disease specialists is encouraging people to get the Covid-19 vaccine, saying it is safe, effective and reduces the chance of serious illness, hospitalization and death.

Dr. Isaac Bogoch, an infectious disease specialist based in Toronto, said after 10 billion doses have been administered worldwide since December 2020, the data has shown uniformly across all countries that Covid vaccines are safe and effective at reducing death and hospitalization from Covid-19.

“The best thing you can do to protect yourself and those around you is get the vaccine,” he said during a live question and answer session on Six Nations of the Grand River Elected Council’s Facebook page Tuesday night.

Dr. Bogoch said the currently circulating Omicron variant is not as severe as the Delta variant that dominated the globe last year but because of its infectiousness, there are more cases of the disease now and even a small percentage of severe infections among such a large number of infections is cause for concern.

“It’s not as bad as the Delta variant but that doesn’t mean it’s not bad,” he said. “It’s still bad. Some people are dying. It’s serious stuff. That’s why you’re seeing things stretched.”

He predicts cases will rise quickly and hopefully, die down quickly.

“We don’t know when that’s going to be. Probably in the next few weeks we’ll see cases decline. It’s hard to know.”

He said the current wave of infections is the biggest wave of Covid infections since the pandemic was first declared in Spring 2020.

“The best thing you can do to protect yourself and those around you is get the vaccine,” he said, in addition to getting enough sleep, eating well, and exercising.

Dr. Bogoch said every single country around the world “has almost identical data” showing the vaccine’s effectiveness in reducing hospitalizations and death from Covid-19.

“If you want to reduce your risk of landing in the hospital and dying, the path forward is through the vaccine. People who are vaccinated are just way less likely to get sick enough to land in the hospital. They’re way less likely to end up in the ICU. They’re way less likely to die of Covid-19.”

“Vaccines work really well.”

In terms of safety, he said, the billions of doses have been administered since clinical trials began in 2020.

“We’re in 2022 now, about 10 billion vaccines have gone into arms worldwide. So when people say, ‘oh, we don’t have enough information yet’ there’s been about 10 billion doses of vaccines have gone into arms worldwide. I’m not going to pretend to have all the answers, because we don’t, but on the other hand, let’s also not pretend we don’t have a ton of information because we do. We know they’re safe. Yeah, you might still get infected if you’re vaccinated, but you’re just way, way less likely to get sick.”

He said when combined with other health measures, such as mask-wearing, social distancing and not gathering in large groups indoors, you can help control the spread.

“Why the hell are we in the mess we’re in?” he asked. “Lots of people aren’t vaccinated and lots of people aren’t listening to public health measures. This is really, really transmissable.”

Meanwhile, Dr. Bogoch said Covid-19 is not going away.

“Covid is going to be around for a long, long time. What’s going to change is that we gradually build up immunity.”

That way, when future waves come, the virus will only produce such things as a mild sniffle in most people and it won’t have as much of an impact on society as it does now, he said.

“That’s what will happen eventually.”

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