The severity of the COVID pandemic following the landing here of the deadly Delta variant caused me to launch this series here on the stupidity of doubting science.
It simply blew my mind to see and hear who was writing and saying what to discourage innocent people from vaccinating, citing individual rights without pointing to collective responsibilities, telling fantastic horror stories that sound so good to be believed as true.
I spent the last year cringing inside as intelligent friends spouted Fake News and Conspiracy Theories under the guise of ‘sharing forwarded posts’ to supposedly ‘help people make informed choices’, when the ultimate objective is to create enough doubt and confusion in unsuspecting minds to cause mistrust of vaccines.
I wanted to help readers understand the choice is not between rights and restrictions, but between life and death.
I was therefore very pleased by last weekend’s VOICE Editorial entitled Trust The Science.
It said: ‘From where we stand, we see no reason why the science behind the vaccines… cannot or should not be trusted…’
And it added: ‘In addition to the science behind vaccines, there is also the irrefutable evidence of the statistics. Over a BILLION vaccines have been administered yet there have been very few adverse reactions.’
And further: ‘The percentage of vaccinated persons seeking hospital care is so ridiculously small that the saying the proof of the pudding is in the eating comes to mind.’
The editorial concluded: ‘It might be rude, but it is nevertheless undeniable that failure to take the vaccine is stupidity bordering on lunacy.’
Yes, Stupidity Bordering on Lunacy!
How else to describe not vaccinating when all available evidence shows its basically unvaccinated people being hospitalized and dying from COVID?
But the success of the anti-vaccination lobby also supposes there’s a science behind the stupidity being preached and practiced: the science of propaganda –spinning information into misinformation to deliberately mislead persons unwilling or unable to access the information everyone says is available online, without caring how many citizens are indeed offline and/or do not use broadband for accessing information.
The anti-vaccine mind-benders carefully select Biblical quotes, share selected online posts and concentrate on sensational stories that even include ‘revealing’ supposed ‘secrets’ about ‘vaccines causing death’ — either soon after the first injection, or ‘within two years…’
They also target soft audiences like church congregations and elderly persons to prevent, even forbid, youth and children under their legal control – or under their roof — from taking any vaccine.
It’s also been pleasing to see how the entire Cabinet of Ministers and all SLP and Independent MPs have embraced the Prime Minister’s encouragement to ‘Follow the Science’ and committed to taking the message to their respective communities.
While the Preachers of COVID Doom and Gloom continue to spread Fake News and False Stories, the nation’s children and elderly continued to be neglected, until the arrival of the Pfizer vaccine now also being used on 12-year-olds.
The elderly is still most at risk as a result of their vulnerability due to ‘underlying conditions’ that include previous major operations involving removal of organs, or having any of a series of ailments.
With the island’s medical fraternity fully behind the government’s drive to stem the Delta tide and better address the current ‘fourth COVID wave’, it’s also necessary to engage the many professionals who honestly served under the previous administration, as well as persons of opposite political persuasions who also embrace the science.
And as former CMO Stephen King recently recommended, the many local doctors, nurses and other health professionals trained in Cuba should also be invited to concretely apply, in a national emergency setting, the rudimentary basics of public health policy that guided their studies in Havana.
The eight new Cuban doctors assigned to the Respiratory Center (at faithful Old Victoria) can be followed by a request for a return here of the couple dozen members of the Henry Reeve Medical Brigade (Cuban doctors, nurses and specialists) sent back home by the last administration.
Following the arrival of the Pfizer vaccine and the evident resurgence of some interest in vaccinations, the government can also now look to expand the number of vaccine choices by undertaking a Vaccine Diplomacy drive of its own, to not only ensure there’s a free vaccine doses are available for all, but also to secure the other immediate associated needs.
These can include: Increasing the number of hospital beds, equipping the Respiratory Center, securing oxygen supplies, launching an island-wide testing drive, integrating private medical professionals — and taking the message to people, not only online but also on-the-ground, through a mix of traditional and modern communications means.
The science and numbers, with facts and figures based on real experiences (like how only unvaccinated people being hospitalized and buried…) are invincible weapons in the war against those advising people to risk possible death instead of simply taking vaccines to prolong their lives.
The longer the ‘anti-vaxxers’ succeed in planting confusion by sowing and nurturing misinformation, the more people will test positive, more people will die, more variants will develop – and COVID will remain with us that much longer.
Government’s duty is always to care for the health of all citizens, including those demanding rights to choose not to vaccinate, who must not be allowed to forget their duties and responsibilities to others at home and in their communities – and the rest of the nation.
That will take a combination of moral suasion and essential requirements, together aimed at ensuring more people are persuaded to vaccinate – like everyone has done so many times, taking injections at hospitals and health centers without asking what’s in the syringe.
The government has started-off on the right track, but needs to continue to stick by its commitment to follow the science, as vaccines are the proven safest way to save Saint Lucian lives and reduce risks of Death by Delta.