“We have only two choices, either we’re going to get vaccinated and end the pandemic, or we’re going to accept death, for the most part, this surge and another flare-up and maybe another variant.” “
– Dr Catherine O’Neal, expert in infectious diseases
Last Friday, esteemed director of the US Center for Disease Control, Dr Rochelle Walensky, said, “There’s a clear message going: this is becoming an unvaccinated pandemic,” which is becoming a term of art in the medical field. domain.
His remarks were later echoed by Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis, but he was pilloried by some for saying generally the same thing. Perhaps those who criticized the Prime Minister might want to criticize Dr Walensky in the same way or perhaps they were blithely uninformed or ignorant of his comments.
Walensky, physician-researcher, has an impressive resume, especially as an expert on HIV / AIDS. She was a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and at the renowned Massachusetts General Hospital, as head of the division of infectious diseases.
Perhaps those who were quick to criticize the Prime Minister’s comment, even suggesting that he was “curious”, may wish to reconsider their misguided and somewhat instinctive comment, given that a number of medical experts have generally the same point of view, although some might gently pedal their views.
It’s not that the pandemic is largely over. The most important point is that the vast majority of the unvaccinated suffer the worst health effects, with many succumbing to COVID-19 tragically and needlessly dying.
Those who speak for a living need to be as thoughtful and nuanced as possible, providing context and better understanding. Dr Walensky also noted of the pandemic in the United States: “We are seeing epidemics in parts of the country where we are seeing low immunization coverage. The good news is that if you are fully vaccinated you are protected … our biggest concern is that we will continue to see preventable cases, hospitalizations and, sadly, deaths among the unvaccinated.
The virus and its variants spread widely and infect unvaccinated people.
John Hopkins Center for Health Security principal researcher Dr Amesh Adalja pointed out: “It is likely that COVID-19 is now entering a phase where it is a regional problem and not a systemic problem for the country, due to the vaccination differential. Fully vaccinated areas are going to see a very blunt impact from Delta. “
And John Brownstein, PhD at Boston Children’s Hospital, noted, “The impact of the more transmissible Delta variant will not be felt evenly across the country. The main pockets of unvaccinated people will continue to be the main hosts for this virus to circulate. “
What many experts and most politicians cannot say is that we are living in a sort of pandemic of magical thinking, ignorance, fear and, yes, stupidity, classically defined as: “behavior. which shows a lack of common sense or judgment ”.
We are all heirs to stupidity. Humans sometimes make stupid, ridiculous and reckless decisions, regardless of their level of education or intellect.
Convinced anti-vaccines are unlikely to be moved or persuaded. Some of them will die for their beliefs, including some who have already died from COVID-19, insisting that the virus and the disease are conspiracies and / or fake news.
But there are more people who hesitate to vaccinate. There are others who are not opposed to the vaccination but who have been cowardly, indifferent or lazy in getting the vaccine. They must beware: the virus is a first-rate opportunist, waiting to attack as quickly and ruthlessly as possible.
A public health crisis demands maturity and personal responsibility from individuals. In some jurisdictions, there is also a pandemic of laxity, immaturity, arrogance, and cavalier attitudes and behavior. The virus exploits pride.
A BBC story reported on Faisal Bashir, 54, who recently lamented: “I was offered the vaccine, but I was arrogant. I went to the gym, cycle, walk and run. Since I was strong and healthy, I didn’t think I needed it.
“It also meant that if it turned out that it wasn’t safe, I wouldn’t have taken any chances. But the truth was, I couldn’t avoid the virus. It always had me. I don’t know how or where.
Faisal was released after a week in the hospital, where he was on oxygen. He remarked: “What I went through in the hospital – the care and the expertise – humiliates me. People fill hospitals with risk and that’s bad. I feel bad. I feel so bad about it and hope that speaking it will help others avoid it.
Sadly, there are dozens of stories like this, including by Bahamians who are now falling seriously ill and filling the hospital, with more recent deaths and more deaths to come in the days and weeks to come. to come.
How many have to die or get sick before others get vaccinated? We do not know! But the current wave is going to be tragic and debilitating for many in what is now overwhelmingly an unvaccinated pandemic.
It will likely remain a long and difficult task to get more Bahamians vaccinated, although hopefully this increase will encourage more people.
LIVE OR DIE
About a month ago in the UK, Abderrahmane Fadil left the hospital but is still not feeling well. Her advice: “I wish I could go to every person who refuses to be vaccinated and say, ‘Look, this is a matter of life and death. Do you want to live or die? If you want to live, go get vaccinated ”. “
Governments and officials have gone out of their way to be inviting, considerate and patient in encouraging people to get vaccinated. But patience runs out on those who refuse to be vaccinated for non-substantial, unintelligible or silly reasons.
As the Associated Press reported from Paris: “More than a million people in France made an appointment for a vaccine in less than a day… after the president pressured everyone to ask for a vaccine. ‘he gets vaccinated to save the summer vacation season and the French economy.
President Emmanuel Macron insisted that people “get vaccinated” so that the country returns to a greater level of normality. The president’s stick and carrot was that a vaccine might be needed to enter cafes and other places the French like to frequent.
Two weeks ago, the Belizean government released a new statutory instrument that included provisions requiring bi-weekly COVID-19 testing, starting August 1, for frontline workers who have not started the vaccination process.
The Instrument states in article 11 (3) of SI 74 of 2021: “A frontline worker who does not comply with this regulation will be deemed to be absent from work and subject to disciplinary proceedings in accordance with any law that regulates services of this front-line worker. . “
For those Bahamians who laughed, moaned, bitched, complained and cut their teeth about our emergency orders, including the Leader of the Opposition, those orders are even stronger in other jurisdictions.
Belize is in dire economic straits with the government recently slashing the wages of public sector workers by ten percent. Earlier in May, the country defaulted on its debt for the second time in a year.
With the need to completely reopen its economy, the country’s government of about 400,000 people has lost patience with many public employees.
According to the Amandala newspaper: “… The health ministry explained that it had broadened the category of frontline workers to include workers who will be on the front lines in the country’s efforts to revive the economy, in particular. in the tourism sector. industry.”
“These frontline workers who will be mandated to present a negative COVID-19 test result every two weeks if they have not been vaccinated include healthcare workers, police, coast guard officers, Belize Defense Force soldiers, teachers, tourism workers, customs officers, Immigration officers, public transport operators, officers of the Directorate of Transportation and public service officers.
Many countries no longer have the luxury of pampering public sector employees, who want to keep all of their salaries and benefits, but who refuse to do what is necessary to reopen economies to boost public revenues in order to remunerate them . It is ethically irresponsible.
When the Bahamas receives more vaccines, which allows more people to be vaccinated quickly, we have the power, as a small nation, to quickly end the worst of the pandemic, which is being fueled in large part by the not vaccinated. It is an unvaccinated pandemic in multiple ways.
Getting vaccinated is more than an individual decision about your health. As other world leaders and religious leaders have pointed out, it is also an act of patriotism and the common good.
The ability to reopen the country and our economy, save lives and prevent health problems is as much, if not more, in the hands of citizens than it is in the hands of government officials. We need some kind of pandemic of goodwill and patriotism to heal and restore the country.