As COVID-19’s second anniversary creeps faster and closer, the world is up against a wall, unable to respond fast-enough to the rollout of new variants and the cumulative strains on global health and medical facilities.
The ten rich nations that raced to buy and hoard over 70% of all vaccines and vaccinated over half their populations (over 60% in the UK and USA and 90%+ in Australia) are finding it hard to cope with the combined effects of the Delta and Omicron variants (called ‘Deltacron’ by some).
Their new record weekly and daily caseloads in the G-7 (the world’s seven richest nations) ranged at the beginning of 2022 from 250,000 weekly in the UK to one-million-plus in the USA, the countries that conspired with BIG Pharma to fast-track manufacturing of vaccines and broke all promises to help inoculate the majority of the world’s population in poor countries, finding it impossible to buy or ‘Booster’ themselves out of COVID.
The rich nations are today Going Bananas seeking new solutions to the worsening problem, in the process recycling old regulations, reimposing earlier-abandoned measures, reopening bars and restaurants, reintroducing ‘COVID Passports’, reversing vaccination mandates, shuffling travel protocols and in many other ways clearly-showing they know not where they are heading.
Meanwhile, Omicron has varied into the new ‘BA.2’ variant of global concern (already identified last week in over 40 nations) stoking more fears and panic just as scientists were trying to prove that Omicron’s maximum-transmission-speed might actually be a blessing in disguise as the beginning of the end of COVID-19.
Against this rather-confused global background, Saint Lucia cannot afford to continue marking-time with COVID-19 and Government and Health Authorities must start taking those decisions that’ll eventually ultimately become necessary, like a National House-to-House COVID Testing campaign.
As far back as April 2021, I recommended that medical teams accompany the Electoral Department’s registration teams to converse with households and answer their questions about COVID and encourage vaccination, which would result in more people holed-up at home for whatever of many reasons and unable to go to public clinics being vaccinated and yield vital statistics for planning use on who’s not vaccinated and where…
I said Home Quarantine was a sure prescription for super-spreading the virus into communities.
I suggested current elected government MPs and Cabinet Ministers should make and take more time to be seen on-the-ground (and not only online) by starting to implement their promises made — on oath at the first sitting of this parliament — to go to their respective constituencies and help spread the message to Follow the Science and The Protocols.
I also wished aloud at times that the Health Minister would choose to use his established and respected, influential cultural messaging expertise to take the message to communities around the island, in Kweyol and English.
Indeed, it’s taken 18 months for a regional survey to reveal what many have been saying all along: that our messaging started-off wrong and despite the new administration having established and gained support for its commendable insistence on Following the Science, COVID-19 — as an invisible virus spawning worse cloned variants — continues to mutate and variate faster than the scientists can understand and the world can respond.
The rest of the world has tended to go with the flow set by the rich countries, unable to ebb or reverse the constant flow of new COVID waves that come with overflowing and overlapping tides of instant research and findings by vaccine developers and manufacturers backed by cooperative regulators, with almost daily promises of new vaccines for every new variant.
Suddenly, after leaving children out of the testing and vaccination loop from the very beginning of research for the first vaccines — as if they were too young and IT-humanoid to be affected by a virus wreaking havoc among adults — they are testing positive and being hospitalized in large numbers, unleashing another round of another rat race for competitive research to see which company will come-up with the first next cure.
I’ve always held that those who don’t vaccinate don’t risk their lives just to show they have “rights” but more because they’re either unaware of the danger or have other genuine reasons always worth listening to and addressing; and many are also confused or misled by conspiracy theorists and anti-vaccination propaganda.
I’ve also always supported stronger measures short of mandating vaccination, not because I think it’s wrong to take care of people who don’t care to or cannot protect themselves and others (including family and friends), but because we’ve seen how political parties, trade unions, advocacy groups and other societal entities under leadership of anti-vaxxers can be used to foment bloody confrontation with the political directorate — as with the life-threatening stone attack last year on Vincentian Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves by a protester in an activity organized by a coalition of trade unionists and politicians supportive of the opposition and/or opposed to the government’s COVID prevention policies.
But we all lived to see the US and UK, Australia and Canada directly and indirectly impose Mandatory Vaccination, as in Australia that’s registered the highest vax rate in the world, while China has been able to contain the virus in ways those rich nations envy, but won’t dare admit.
Again, I join those appealing to the government to widen the choice of available vaccines beyond the existing boxed few (that many unvaccinated people here still have strong reservations about and don’t trust) and do more to ensure Cuba’s popular and highly-anticipated Abdala (and other vaccines that work elsewhere, including Chinese and Russian variants and varieties, including Ivermectin for those who want it) are made available as added choices.
We simply cannot afford to continue to allow the dictates of rich countries to decide how long we live with COVID.
It just won’t work for us!