Not enough British Columbians will acquire immunity from COVID-19 vaccinations for life to return to normal by fall, according to two Simon Fraser University professors.
Simulations run by mathematicians Paul Tupper and Caroline Colijn show at the province’s current rate of inoculations, reopening in September would lead to “substantial rises in cases and hospitalizations.”
Nearly 470,000 people would be infected, approximately three times the number of B.C. infections to date.
The province is aiming to provide every eligible adult with a second COVID-19 vaccine dose by September under its current vaccination program. However, only 80 per cent of B.C.’s population is adult and only 80 per cent of those adults are expected to get vaccinated.
This means a large portion of the population, 49 per cent, will still be unprotected – nine percent short of the minimum 60 per cent needed in order for B.C. to achieve herd immunity.
This includes children, for whom COVID-19 vaccines are not yet approved, adults who refuse to get a shot and people for whom the vaccine isn’t effective.
“Our simulations indicate that herd immunity is not attained with current vaccination plans,” Tupper and Colijn wrote in the report.
The key, the professors said, could lie in vaccinating kids.
“We need a higher fraction of the population to have immunity in order to return to life as normal,” reads the report. “We can reach that fraction either through vaccination or infection.”
Providing inoculations for those as young as 10 years old would increase B.C. immunization numbers to more than 60 per cent, resulting in herd immunity.
Though, as the report notes, it is not likely the province will see children inoculated by fall because of the time needed for regulatory vaccine approval.
In their calculations, Tupper and Colijn assumed those who have been infected with COVID-19 are immune from the disease.
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