While staying unvaccinated against COVID-19 is often framed as a personal choice, people who turn down the vaccine are at increased risk of infection for those around them, a new study suggests. .
Research published Monday in the Canadian Medical Association Journal found that people who have not been vaccinated are significantly more likely to become infected than those who have received the shot.
Conversely, the risk of contracting COVID-19 in non-vaccinated people is reduced when they spend time with people who are vaccinated, as they are a risk factor for transmission, according to the mathematical model used in the study. act as a buffer.
Co-author David Fisman, of the University of Toronto’s Dalla Lana School of Public Health, said the message of the study is that the choice of getting vaccinated cannot be considered simply individual.
“You might like to drive your car at 200 kph and think it’s fun, but we don’t allow you to do that on the highway partly because you can kill and injure yourself , but also because you are posing a risk to those around you. You,” he said in a recent interview.
Fisman said the idea for the study came a few months ago amid debates over vaccine passports and vaccine mandates.
“We wondered what was missing from that conversation, what are the rights of vaccinated people to be protected from vaccinated people?” They said.
The conclusion, he said, is that “public health is something you really have to do collectively.”
“What we concluded is that the decision not to vaccinate – you can’t really consider it as a self-inflicted risk[because]you are creating a risk to other people around you by interacting with them.” are,” he said.
The researchers used a mathematical model to predict how many infections a population would have, depending on how much mixing occurred between vaccinated and unvaccinated people. It found that when people mingled with people with the same vaccination status, infection rates decreased from 15 percent to 10 percent among those who were vaccinated, and increased from 62 percent to 79 percent among those who were vaccinated.
Fisman said that in real life people spend the most time with people like themselves. So, he said, even though vaccinated people are most likely to spend time with others who have received the shot, they are disproportionately affected when they spend time with people who haven’t. There are.
He said the advent of more infectious COVID-19 variants, such as Omicron, has affected both the effectiveness of vaccination and the public’s confidence in vaccination. But he added that even when the efficacy of the vaccine was reduced by 40 percent in the model and the fertility rate was increased for the more infectious version, the overall findings were still the same.
He said the study really underscores the importance of vaccines in a way because it doesn’t look at how they reduce the chances of death and hospitalization.
Fisman said the results, from a purely “utilitarian” standpoint, provide justification for the implementation of public health measures such as vaccine passports and vaccine mandates.
However, he acknowledges that a simple mathematical model does not fully reflect the real world or the various factors that must be taken into account when setting public health policy, including political views and public anger.
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