‘Who Vax Lose!’
That’s today’s deadly message from the conspiracy theorists, who’ve always maintained that the COVID-19 virus was manufactured by China, with devious global intent.
In the year since the virus was officially acknowledged (on December 31, 2019), Beijing has been accused of spreading it across continents.
The World Health Organization (WHO) was accused by US President Donald Trump of ‘colluding with China’ to ‘hide the truth’, pulling the US out and withholding its annual $400 million contribution.
While under attack, China instead concentrated on taking all measures necessary to halt the COVID-19 spread, including suspending citizens’ personal rights in the wider national interest and employing Science and Technology to trace affected persons.
International and internal flights were banned and all forms of transport remained grounded while army engineers built giant hospitals, virtually overnight, while the country remained under lockdown.
The results of Beijing’s maximum early interventions were positive: by the Chinese Lunar New Year (January 25), Chinese and Cuban scientists had jointly developed a formula to successfully treat patients and reduce the virus’ spread in Wuhan, where it originated.
Leading nations joined the USA in turning an impending global epidemic into a political blame game, while ignoring China’s example of taking early strong measures, no matter how uncomfortable, to protect its 1.8 Billion people.
By April, Europe and the USA were virtually competing to register the highest numbers of persons diagnosed positive, Brazil not far behind.
In May, doubts about vaccine tests took another turn, with disclosures that some trials were only being done only in poor nations by scientists from rich nations, with populations of poor nations officially warned against using them.
Then came confirmation that American Blacks, thanks to their poorer health and socio-economic conditions, were — and still are – more vulnerable to COVID-19.
Rich and poor countries spent precious time debating the economic costs of national lockdowns, while the casualty numbers rose uncontrollably.
By September, some rich countries invoked dead laws to roundly impound COVID-fighting equipment manufactured by private companies within their borders, although already bought and paid for by other countries.
At the same time, those same nations entered into secret agreements with the multinational pharmaceutical companies – ‘Big Pharma’ — to purchase over 90% of the vaccines, while still under trial.
Complicit governments also drastically cut the usually-reliable 18-month testing time to mere months, claiming Science and Technology can now yield quicker results ‘in labs.’
Today, the global anti-vax narrative has become mainly ideological — and aimed at ‘People of Colour’ and ‘People of Faith’.
CARICOM nations in July agreed to be provided vaccines under a special COVAX arrangement that will see WHO and Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) entities supervise distribution.
Receiving nations are expected to use the ‘Herd Immunity’ approach, requiring that 70% of the population be vaccinated.
The new vaccines must also be kept at a permanent guaranteed temperature of 70 Degrees Celsius — a sure challenge in those regions of the world overwhelmingly populated by Black and Brown people, like the Caribbean and Africa.
People will naturally be divided on whether to vax or not, but at the end of the day it’s each CARICOM government’s duty, to all the region’s citizens, to embark on national campaigns encouraging them to listen carefully to the arguments, undertake their own research – and most of all, let the medical and health authorities lead the discussions.
CARICOM governments cannot afford to take neutral stances on COVID-19 vaccinations, or use vaccines as political or election ploys (like how the ‘immune’ President Donald Trump tried to rush approval for a vaccine he would have circulated before Election Day).
Instead, the region’s leaders must lead from in front – and if they really truly believe in the effectiveness of the vaccines they have signed-up for their citizens to take, they should summon the testicular fortitude to stand-up and tell and show they are indeed confident in their own decisions.
Each leader should assure their citizens they would take the first jab when the vaccine arrives.
Meanwhile, most CARICOM citizens also innocently under-appreciate the role our region’s best medical, scientific and technical minds have played in opening the way for Our Caribbean to respond adequately to the COVID-19 challenge.
The University of the West Indies (The UWI) continues to play its original leading role of helping Caribbean nations confront the COVID-19 challenge.
The UWI actually has a technology center in China — and its scientists on the ground there developed very early insights into the virus and its dangers for the Caribbean, which led to the establishment a UWI COVID-19 Task Force very early this year, also put at the disposal of CARICOM.
The UWI Task Force continues to collaborate with the CARICOM Secretariat, the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) and other relevant regional institutions confronting COVID-19.
The UWI yesterday (Friday, December 18) hosted a virtual Vice Chancellor’s Forum on ‘COVID-19 Vaccination’ featuring the university’s leading lights in the search for a global solution to the pandemic.
A week before, the World Tourism Association joined the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) and the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA) in another virtual conference, hosted by veteran Caribbean broadcaster Julian Rogers, addressing the impact of COVID-19 on Caribbean Tourism.
Coming at a time when the global conspiracy theorists have been able to easily influence public opinion across the region into mistrust of vaccination based on religious considerations and social conditions, the Vice Chancellor’s Forum could not have but helped better the region’s understanding of the central role and contribution Caribbean medical scientists and researchers, including Cubans, to the few fruitful and early searches for a lasting solution to the COVID-19 pandemic.
This is definitely not a time for continued unhealthy procrastination.
Instead, the region should undertake, as of now, not only national education exercises, but an actual coordinated regional vaccination campaign.