The "New Normal" practice with social distancing measures introduced in cafes and restaurants during the first round of outbreaks last year. Photo: Sayan Chuenudomsavad

EDITORIAL: Vaccines give hopes that we would be able to deal with the Covid-19 virus, but they’re not a long-term shield against future challenges

Previous rounds of outbreaks worldwide have laid bare to people that the long-term survival is really with rearrangement of human’s relationship with nature. That literally means drastic changes in lifestyle, in irresponsible consumption, and in exploitative economic activities, and of course, it’s much harder and requires stronger determination to pursue than vaccination_such as shifting towards Green Economy

The latest report on relatively low efficacy of the experimental Covid-19 vaccine jointly produced by Brazil’s Institute of Butantan and China’s Sinovac Biotech has prompted Thai people to become nervous here as they are anxiously waiting for the same vaccine to be delivered here in late last month amid the new burst of the virus which has spread over 60 provinces now.

The results of the clinical trial in Brazil, as revealed early this week, showed relatively low efficacy, with slightly over 50% effective. The later explanation is that the experiment this round has been conducted among medical practitioners and volunteers. They are considered as high-risk groups, and following epidemiological assumptions, high risk groups tend to yield less vaccination effectiveness.

The explanation by top virologists and public health executives may have brought some reliefs to the public at large, but one fact that has surfaced from this latest development is how fragile and sensitive Thai society is at the moment.

Epidemiologically, vaccines, if successful, are considered as effective cures against communicable diseases, but there is probably an exception for this virus, Covid-19, as almost all of the experiments or the very last phases of clinical trials have so far not yet yielded quite stable results that can confirm their stable efficacy.

This is partly because the virus keeps evolving, not being stable in genetics, according to leading virologists. So, nobody at this point can confirm the vaccines’ effectiveness in helping prevent or control the virus.

Still, as the situation is so somber in almost everywhere infected with the virus, Covid-19 vaccines have become people’s high hopes.

There is nothing wrong to pin hopes on somethings hopeful, but the other facts from previous rounds of outbreaks worldwide have laid bare to us that the long-term survival is really with rearrangement of human’s relationship with nature. That literally means drastic changes in lifestyle, in irresponsible consumption, and in exploitative economic activities, and of course, it’s much harder and requires strong determination to pursue than vaccination, such as shifting towards Green Economy.

While struggling with immediate challenges brought by Covid-19, the society needs to be reminded of these facts and should not be allowed to be overwhelmed with immediate cures like vaccines.

Because the only sustainable and resilient shield against any newly emerging diseases in the future, not just this virus, is truly with changes in our behaviors, being able to shift from the destructive economy and living towards a more environmentally friendly one.