If we were really in a tunnel and needing to get out, even a pin prick of light would be welcome. Perhaps that’s how you feel about the announcement of approval for vaccine to be used to counter Covid-19. It seems that in a trial of about 30,000 people, evidence from a sample of only 95 (the ones that ended up actually contracting the virus) is good enough to indicate it is effective. In that sample of 95, over 90% who got the virus had not received the vaccine. Did everyone in the trial have equal exposure to the virus? Impossible to know. If we assume all were equally exposed then obviously the vaccine is a really worthwhile risk-avoidance tool. Will the people who received the vaccine be protected for a long while? No-one knows yet, but certainly in the short term it’s better to have some protection. If you have the vaccine will it stop you transmitting the virus to others? Possibly, but more time is needed to verify that.
You and I may not have enough information to completely convince us the vaccine will be effective, but even if the statistical probabilities of it working are not the best, medical professionals consider it is far better than being exposed to the virus with no protection. We regularly make decisions without complete information; simply put, we have good reason to trust in what we do know.
Hopefully we can be confident that a huge proportion of the people who can have the vaccine will receive it. They will consider it worthwhile for themselves, of course, but their action helps protect everyone else too if the virus has one less person to infect. Looking at the statistics might make you think its an unproven solution, but it is the best there is! And it’s not really deciding if the cup is half full or half empty; it is either really full or totally empty!
This may remind us of advice given long ago (by Blaise Pascal) about whether a person should believe in God or not. The logic went as follows: If you were to believe in God, but then found God did not exist, are you worse off? No. But if you don’t believe and a holy God does exist, what then? Awful. No-one can disprove God’s existence. Those who believe in God can point to many good reasons for doing so (contact us for some if you like!). The danger in getting the answer wrong is tilted all one way; it is far safer to believe. The good news of the Bible in John 3:16 needs to be compared with the risk analysis in John 3:36 (click on either of these references to read more)
So why are people ready to believe in future beneficial results of a vaccine, but not in God? If only a few thousand people in the vaccine trial have shown it likely protects them, compared to millions and millions of Christians who have testified to the positive difference it has made in their lives, why do people believe in the small sample and ignore the large one? Perhaps because they feel the darkness of the Covid-19 tunnel they’re in; they believe they’re exposed to a virus that could kill them, but they are apparently little concerned about what happens after they die. If we at present have no worrying awareness that our lives are speeding on to a meeting with God, we may not be concerned about deciding to believe in God or not. What if the light at the end of the tunnel is that oncoming train?