Here we go again. With COVID-19 case counts suddenly spiking in the United States, Great Britain and Europe, the pandemic we all hoped was behind us is once again showing just how resilient it can be. And this time, the culprit for its return is clear: the combination of a new variant and millions of unvaccinated people.

The spread of the Delta variant has public health officials in the U.K. projecting as many as 100,000 new daily cases “within weeks,” although the country’s high vaccination rates mean the number of hospitalizations and deaths will be lower than previous waves. But they are rising, and they’re rising even faster in places like Texas and Florida, where half the adult population has yet to receive their first dose. And while Canada is now ahead of the United States in terms of the numbers of people who are fully vaccinated, we’re not out of the woods yet.

That’s because the new and more contagious variants mean so-called “herd immunity” requires 75 to 90 per cent vaccination rates, not the 60 to 70 per cent previously seen as the threshold. And because children under 12 can’t get vaccinated yet and represent approximately 13 per cent of the population, that means we need just about everyone over the age of 12 to get vaccinated.

That’s not happening in Alberta, where demand for second doses is falling off sharply. According to provincial health data, there are more than 500,000 people who are now eligible for their second dose but haven’t gotten it yet. That’s particularly worrying in a province that has one of the lowest rates of first doses in the country and only counts 51 per cent of its population fully vaccinated.

The United Conservative Party government has tried to increase these numbers by dangling a number of carrots in front of the vaccine-hesitant population, including three $1-million prizes and a series of smaller ones (including hunting trips and fishing permits) aimed more specifically at rural Albertans. So far, at least, the carrots aren’t working.

That’s why it’s time for the sticks. Governments can’t force people to get vaccinated, of course, and that’s a bridge too far anyway. But they can raise the cost of their decision to refuse the vaccine and ignore the huge volumes of scientific research indicating herd immunity is the only way to beat this virus. If they want to engage in anti-social behaviour, they should be deprived of the opportunity to socialize with those of us who did our duty.

That’s what French President Emmanuel Macron did recently, when his government announced compulsory vaccination of all health-care workers and a new requirement of proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test for anyone wanting to enter the country’s cafés, cinemas, shopping malls and other public spaces. The result? Record numbers of vaccinations, including nearly a million in just one day.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson wasn’t willing to go quite that far, but on Monday he announced those without their vaccinations wouldn’t be able to get into nightclubs and other large public gatherings. “Proof of a negative test will no longer be enough,” he said.

Quebec has already edged in that direction with its plan to introduce so-called “vaccine passports” in parts of the province where COVID-19 rates are highest. In Manitoba, the government has been issuing proof-of-immunization cards to everyone two weeks past their second shot.

But in Alberta, where Jason Kenney’s “best summer ever” is in full swing, this idea is apparently a non-starter. “We’ve been very clear from the beginning that we will not facilitate or accept vaccine passports,” Kenney told reporters at his annual Calgary Stampede pancake breakfast last week. Unless he changes his mind, that “best summer ever” could quickly morph into the worst fall possible for Albertans.

The carrots, after all, haven’t worked. It’s time to give the sticks a try. The cost of continuing to coddle or cater to vaccine skeptics is just too high, and it shouldn’t fall on those of us who dutifully followed public health guidelines, received our vaccinations and made numerous sacrifices in order to fight the pandemic.

Canada has tried the carrot approach to encourage COVID vaccinations. Now it's time for the stick, writes columnist @maxfawcett. #cdnpoli #COVID

Yes, Kenney is clearly terrified of his rural base, which is the home of Alberta’s unvaccinated population. And there’s no question more stringent rules around vaccinations would trigger a furious reaction from the freedom-obsessed fringe elements that have consistently rejected public health measures like masking, and seem well-represented within the UCP.

But as unpleasant as this blowback might be, Kenney should be more scared of the prospect of a fourth wave and what it would mean for his re-election chances in 2023. Conservatives used to believe in strong, principled leadership and governments that protected their citizens from external threats. Now, more than ever, it’s time for them to rediscover that — and raise the price of being unvaccinated before the rest of us have to pay it for them.

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This reminds me of the classic story of the shepherd boy who cried "wolf." The drug companies have blown almost all their credibility on lies for profit. Capitalism is killing us at every turn now.

It's be really interesting to see you repeat that to your doctor during your next check-up.

Completely one-sided piece. I am losing respect for what passes as journalism at Nat Obs. Why does Max Fawcett ignore in his piece all the science that reports on the dangers posed by the mRNA "vaccines"?

What "science" is that Kim?

While out on a stroll with our dogs about a month ago one of my neighbours suggested to me that the government was attempting to genetically modify all of us with mRNA vaccines for a laundry list of nefarious purposes. She's a lovely person, and not unintelligent, but sadly a victim of her own internet filter bubble: social media companies had effectively turned her into a 'highly engaged' click-zombie for their profit at her (and those around hers) expense.

When you read through the studies Kim, you may begin to question whether the lens that you are seeing this through has become distorted by those who profit by maintaining your engagement. There are risks to any vaccine, especially ones that are still under emergency use authorization, but in the US more than 338,000,000 doses have been administered with very few problems noted.

Here's a reliable place to start to learn about mRNA -

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/different-vaccines/mr...

And here's a reliable global vaccine tracker -

https://www.bloomberg.com/graphics/covid-vaccine-tracker-global-distribu...

Hope this helps.

Great links. Thanks.

Yours is a troll post, Kim.

Any verifiable study that you could link to support your thoughts would have gone a long way to making your case, but you didn't.

When people don't know how to distinguish between science and claims about science, it's a problem of education, or more particularly, lack thereof.
It's probably also inaccurate to assume that everyone who doesn't want the vaccine is necessarily "an anti-vaxxer."
There are also more reasons for the decline in various infectious illnesses, such as improvements in housing, sanitation and living standards.

Genuine, peer-reviewed science has proven beyond the slightest doubt that the two mRNA Pfizer shots I received have now resulted in two Bill Gates Foundation microchips being embedded in my brain. I have been hearing the murmur, "Dump Apple, get PC Windows" over and over ever since. So far it hasn't worked.

Just wondering out loud if covid will mutate faster in the unvaccinated? For those who have been double-vaccinated and are still testing positive, does that mean covid mutation is still possible? As in - will covid mutate regardless of whether a population has been vaccinated? Let's say a population has been fully double-vaxed, CAN the virus still mutate within that population?

I'm no expert, but from what I've read the answer appears to be "yes". I'm obviously oversimplifying here, but I think the more times the virus makes copies of itself the more chance that a "more fit" version will be created by 'mistakes' in the copying process. RNA viruses like COVID that have only one copy of their genes are more likely to mutate (have mistakes in the copy process) than DNA viruses, that, like us, have two copies of our genes.

If you are unvaccinated, it seems, and you get infected you become a virus factory and the more virus you produce the more chance of a 'more fit' mutation emerging in you and infecting others. If you have one jab and you get infected you will get less sick and produce fewer virus copies. With two jabs and a strong immune system the virus' 'factory' gets shut down quickly and even fewer copies of the virus are produced.

So the virus, so long as it has a human host and can make copies of itself, will mutate, and so as long as it exists there is always a chance that new dangerous variants will emerge.

Bu what we don't want to be doing is providing 'factories' to help it evolve: the biggest and best factories being those individuals that are not vaccinated.

I'll say it again I'm no expert, and so hoping others will chime in here and provide you some references.

Hope this helps.

Depends what you mean. Sure, some vaccinated people can still catch the disease, although it will generally be a mild case. Catching the disease means there are viruses replicating. Where there is replication, there can be mutations (most will just make the virus not work as well, but now and then . . .).

But what it comes down to is, the more viruses breeding, the greater the chance of mutation. If everyone's vaccinated, since most of those people won't catch the disease and so won't spread it, it is very difficult for the virus to spread. And if it doesn't spread, and there are very few cases, then there are very few viruses breeding, and the chance of it mutating goes down drastically. This is the basic reason why it's important to not just vaccinate Canadians, but to get vaccine to Africa and India and whatnot. Anywhere with a big reservoir of unvaccinated people, especially if like say India and Brazil their public health containment measures suck, can have big outbreaks which are much more likely to lead to dangerous mutations.

I would suspect that a mild case means there are fewer viruses--the immune system is keeping the numbers down and that's why it's mild. Which would mean that even case for case, vaccinated people would result in fewer mutations because they've got less replication happening on average. But that's minor compared to containing the spread. So for instance in Vietnam, they stopped it cold before anyone was vaccinated, so you're not getting new strains out of Vietnam. Although who knows, if they get even more contagious strains maybe they could overwhelm even public health measures as good as Vietnam's or New Zealand's or South Korea's, so it's pretty important to vaccinate everyone.

Mass vaccination worldwide is how they killed smallpox. If we could do it back then I don't see why we can't do it now.

I'd suspect that like every other disease and condition, genetic, epigenetic variables enter the picture, along with overall health and illness status. Very little that happens can be reduced to a single variable.

The obvious solution is to pass a law making it clear that people who are offered vaccines but refuse on ideological grounds be told that if they are infected with the virus and need to be hospitalized they will not be covered by their provincial medical services plan but will will need to repay the cost of their treatment. That will be fair to all of us who do the right thing and accept the offer of vaccination against covid-19.

There seems to be some confusion. Wearing a mask properly protects others. Getting vaxxed (if the vaccine's good) protects the vaccinated individual.
Herd immunity's a crap shot in a dark wood. Herd immunity applies to closed populations only. Canada accepted and deployed the Astra-Zeneca vaccine on the basis of 60% efficacy in prevention of *severe* illness. So that's 40% with severe illness, some with "not severe" symptomatic illness, and an unknown reservoire of asymptomatic infected persons to pass the illness around.
A city, province or country is not a closed population: there is always ingress and egress.
Anyone following the research knows full well that the best numbers apply, basically, to healthy 18-64 yos. And ironically, some of the numbers are derived from populations with up to 35% of studied individuals having known prior infection, and/or antibodies (the latter applies to previously asymptomatic infection).
Researchers and the WHO keep emphasizing the need to remain masked and socially distanced, with or without vaccination.
We've already determined that masking and distancing prevent infection. This needs to be maintained because the vaccines protect the public health system, but they don't protect the individual from infection: only to some extent from hospitalization.
As someone who has, and whose family members have had severe reactions to medications and vaccines, I frankly don't understand why people aren't livid at those who wear masks partly covering their mouths, and their noses not at all, but nevertheless get all hot and bothered when they hear that someone doesn't want to take the vaccine.
One person's ideology is another's religion. We allow exemptions based on religious and conscientious belief. Guess which level of government will assure you that the vaccines and medications they authorize won't harm you or your children? None. Absolutely none. So it really is up to each individual to use their best judgment based on classes of pharmaceuticals and excipients they've reacted badly to in the past, and decide for themselves.
Population health is based on risks and benefits. In the case of individuals, that calculation doesn't apply: there's no cumulative risk figure that will tell you whether the medicine will make you well, or make you sick -- only the individual situation "counts" at that point.
Withholding healthcare because someone's made "choices" less than the best would have to be applied across the board. So drive under the influence (that *does* put others at risk), and no treatment. Smoke cigarettes? Pay for your own chemo! Should you have to pay as well for treatment for those who got cancer from second-hand smoke? What about those who insist on eating meat and dairy -- and feeding it to their kids -- and using laundry products that are toxic, personal scent that is neuro-toxic, teratogenic, mutagenic and more? Those, too affect others. How about motor-vehicle exhaust?
How about alcohol? Even if you don't endanger someone else, the recent research concludes there is *no* safe level of alcohol consumption.
Pesticides. On and on.
And grandma? With the current vaccines, she'll remain at risk. Despite having stayed home for a year to keep ventilators available for the 30-50s who'd get priority for ventilator access. I dunno. Something doesn't smell right with all the anger over vaccine refusal, that didn't exist around masking refusal.
For them, and for those who lied to health authorities about not having had contact with travellers, there should have been penalties.
For those who get vaxxed, but indulge in unhealthy behaviours, I've no particular quarrel, unless and until they start a holieir-than-thou rant about how the unvaxxed should be punished.

The world will NEVER end - it will adapt- inspite of humans who want to kill it..
WE on the other hand WE will ALL end -some sooner than later.
ALL of us need clean water. clean air. clean food and shelter PLUS a vaccination to protect our CHILDREN - our future - our HOPE. They ALL ask the right question - where did COVID come from ? and how can we PREVENT illnesses?

There’s no question more stringent rules around vaccinations would trigger a furious reaction from the freedom-obsessed fringe elements that have consistently rejected public health measures”…

I suspect that any method used to impose or mandate vaccines will be met with reactions from a multitude of individuals of differing political positions, levels of education and of vaccine knowledge and not simply from “freedom-obsessed fringe elements”. That was an unhelpful characterization.

As a retired healthcare practitioner with 40 years experience I have observed the growth of resistance to vaccines (primarily the annual flu vaccine) that has been the result of either previous unfortunate experiences of self and or patients (Guillain-Barre syndrome), lack of trust in the flu vaccine selection and/or manufacturing process, the attempts by different governments and employers at either imposing or attempting to impose the vaccine on HCWs. These attempts were challenged successfully primarily by the nursing staff.

These attempts occurred in the last 20-25 years after healthcare professionals had witnessed and experienced the multiple waves of the “Common Sense Revolution” and the new mantra of “do more with less and less”. This coupled with the introduction of manufacturing management techniques such as Sigma Six Lean in hospitals and “Non-culpable Attendance Awareness” programs have created a chasm between hospital staff and those who impose these policies to the point where I wonder if we will ever return to an era where some trust exists between these divided entities.

With this history I wasn’t surprised to learn that there has been the usual and unfortunate vaccine hesitancy from hospital staff. I don’t see it as a response freedom-obsessed fringe elements but rather the outcome of years of poorly thought out policies by a healthcare system who relies heavily on the use of a stick and rarely any carrots. Consider the “Non-Culpable Attendance Aware Programs” in use in hospitals introduced in an attempt to reduce the use of sick time in hospitals; this program specifically targets individuals who are indeed ill as a result of nature and/or bad luck and not as result of any choices made by the employee (anything from colds, kidney stones, cancer). Once an employee trips over an arbitrary number of sick events (usually three events in six months) they are placed into the program and attend frequent meetings with Occ Health and department managers where they are informed that the staff member is valued and sorely missed when off ill. They are also informed that the employer is “here to assist in any way” but if this continues your will be placed on step two of the program meaning more meetings to discuss the absence and again if ithere is continued sick time you will be placed on step three where a failure to bring your sick time down to zero may lead to termination of employment due to “frustration of contract”. This doesn’t take into consideration the length of service of even individuals with stellar attendance records. The plan is followed note for note and I have consoled many staff members following these meetings who were so upset I was concerned with their ability to continue safely with their shift. That isn’t irony but seemed more like brutality.
It has been my experience that added stress is the last thing a person dealing with cancer or other serious health issues such as heart disease or Crohn’s disease needs.

This policy along with the application of LEAN methods have truly demoralized healthcare staff. The irony that hospital administrators pursue this non-culpable absentee program imposed upon staff employed to provide care for our ill and injured has been a very bitter and destructive experience.

So the reasons why some in healthcare won’t sign up up for COVID of Flu vaccines is more complex and perhaps misguided but it is much more than them being freedom obsessed fringe elements and I suggest more to do with an unfortunate lack of trust is their administration. Consider that a nurse who obtains the Covid19 vaccine and has an unfortunate outcome requiring time off may trigger being placed on the non-culpable attendance awareness program.

For background, I am fully vaccinated against Covid19 and sighed up yearly for the flu vaccine; these were my individual decisions based upon my review of the risks/benefits and while employed in healthcare tried to promote vaccines to fellow staff.

Education and discussion is usually the most effective method of encouraging a behaviour and when those who resist don’t fear a “stick” then one should give that some deeper thought!

Who cares for our caregivers?

Thank you for that comment.
It's not just nurses who've been so abused by the current corporate obsessions: it's the majority of workers. Those who are unionized have some hope of improvement ...
The thing about turning everything into "efficiency models" is that it leads to impoverished thinking, impoverished pursuit of facts, and resistance by people who are treated like mere armatures on a Big Machine. People and life are "messy," and the BS corporate philosophies that have infected governments, health systems, education systems and legal systems with cost-cutting, profit increasing, divestment of benefit to private sector, and commodification of people's time, life and health just aren't "efficient" at getting to superior outcomes. Or even what used to be normal outcomes.
Consider the situation of an elderly woman whose failing eyesight has left her without a driver's license ... referred to "The Cancer Centre": 250 miles away, with no busses. And since it's not efficient for the hospital to put the patient at the centre of their diagnostic & treatment protocols, she has to get back and forth to the Centre, 6 times for different kinds of tests that could have been arranged all for one day were it not for the efficient protocol. That, of course, is just the beginning.
Hospitals used to provide uniforms, that were laundered on the premises. Ppl who dealt with sick pts didn't go out on the street in their work clothes ... and then come back to patients. Iatrogenic infections are now the rule in hospitals, rather than exceptions.
And then there's the whole piece about "herd immunity": the writer in this article and public health systems all rely on a theory relating to closed populations, and seek to apply it to larger and highly fluid groupings.
The biggest problem with the vaccines not delivering us from Covid is not that a few "holdouts" are standing in everyone else's way, it is that they were never tested on the basis of whether or not they would prevent infection, just measured by the report of certain symptoms (which turned out in the end not to be definitive) and on the basis of hospitalizations. And now we have a reservoir of mild and asymptomatic cases, which are nevertheless contagious and which might well become a long-term phenomenon. Without knowing at what point after exposure symptoms would develop, "we" in what is said to be "world class science" made assumptions, and relied on self-reporting instead of testing. Our approach to public health measures has been framed around protecting the capacity of the health system, not preventing deaths, much less illness. Public health seems to believe their job is to protect the public health System, not the Public, for heaven's sake!
Undoubtedly it was easier to rely on test subjects to report fever, than to actually test them, and less expensive for the pharmaceutical company. But it must be remembered that the Astra-Zeneca vaccine was approved for use in Canada on the basis of preventing 60% of severe illness that would otherwise be anticipated to occur. And less than that in seniors.

Max is absolutely right. If these people don't want to get vaccinated then it is time to make their lives very inconvenient.