Good News About COVID-19 … Yes, Really
While the arrival of the Omicron variant ensured that the year would end on a downer, disrupting holiday plans and festivities, it wasn’t déjà vu all over again. Boosters of the mRna vaccines, which are plentiful in Canada, have been shown to offer substantial protection against severe disease and death from Omicron. All in all, there was much good news about the progress made in dealing with the pandemic in 2021.
Vaccinations for all Canadian adults started ramping up early in the year and are now available for Canadians age five and over, including boosters for people age 18 and over in most provinces. As of this writing,77 per cent of eligible Canadians are double vaccinated.
Meanwhile, the federal government has signed a deal to buy up to 1.5 million courses of antiviral treatments developed late this year by Pfizer and Merck. In November, Pfizer announced that its antiviral treatment reduced the risk of hospitalization or death from COVID-19 by 89 per cent.
And despite lockdowns, isolation, job losses and business closings, the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine reported in September that suicides in Canada unexpectedly fell 32 per cent in the first year of the pandemic compared with the year before. It’s the lowest suicide mortality rate in Canada in more than a decade, notes the Journal.
There’s also good news to come from the breakthrough scientific progress achieved with the messenger RNA COVID-19 vaccines developed by Pfizer-BionTech and Moderna. The vaccines’ mRNA technology has become a promising platform for combatting other diseases including malaria and for cancer immunotherapy. The Molecular Cancer journal reports that “mRNA is a powerful and versatile cancer vaccine platform. Its successful development towards clinical translation will remarkably strengthen our ability to combat cancers.”
As well, an experimental HIV vaccine based on mRNA already shows promise in mice and primates, according to scientists. Their results show that this novel vaccine was safe and prompted antibody and cellular immune responses against an HIV-like virus, the journal Nature Medicine reported this month.