Why Social Distancing Is Still Important (July 2021)

With vaccines rolling out and pubs reopening here in the UK, it seems as though things are finally going back to normal. People are out in their droves enjoying the beautiful weather, and who can blame them? We’ve endured a seemingly endless year of isolation, but now we’ve had our second jabs, and it feels like it’s time to let our guards down (along with our masks!).

The temptation is to throw caution to the wind and make the most of the already limited summer in this country.

However, isn’t this the very reason the UK was the worst affected country in Europe and the very reason lockdown was quite so punishing for us Brits? Plus, with COVID hotspots continuing to crop up here and there, are we being premature in our celebrations?

There are still so many unknowns about the efficacy of the vaccine. According to one study, if vaccines with 50% efficacy were rolled out to 25% of adults, the model showed an average of 2.2 million new infections when precautions were lifted, with just under 800,000 new infections when they were maintained. There are also growing concerns over the greater risk for COVID-19 hospitalisation and deaths among Black people and rural communities.

There are other factors at play as well. We don’t know how the vaccine affects transmissibility, whether it works on new variants, how long it lasts for, and how many people need it in order for the whole population to be considered immune.

Why not just implement regular testing, given that tests are now so readily available?

A valid question, however the incubation period can last from 2 - 14 days. There is no way of knowing whether you’ve been exposed to the virus for up to two weeks! Who knows how many people could spread the virus before an accurate positive test result can be given. Also, how can you tell all the people you’ve infected they’re at risk of spreading the virus or having severe symptoms? Retracing your steps?

Remaining vigilant until we know the risks is essential; nobody wants to return to lockdown. Maintaining NPIs (non-pharmaceutical interventions) such as social distancing and contact tracing, along with increased vaccination, seems to be the safest course of action, both to get through this pandemic and prepare for new viruses which are unaffected by having the jabs.

Incorporating wearable devices like SpaceBands, which encourage social distancing and contact tracing, protects vulnerable staff and industries by promoting responsibility and identifying those you’ve come into contact with someone infectious.

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