Covid-19 – Fatalities and Vaccines
There are two new developments in the COVID-19 situation in our country. First and foremost is the alarm about the rising casualty figures both quantitatively and qualitatively. Our country has now passed the four-figure casualty mark, after being only in double figures just two months ago. More worryingly though are the increasing number of fatalities, after months without a single death, and the need for hospitalization of dozens of people, placing a tremendous strain on our health services.
The second aspect of the new situation is the first arrivals of the much-heralded COVID-19 vaccines and the first set of inoculations to limited personnel. Already Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves, his wife Eloise and leading frontline personnel have been vaccinated using the Russian Sputnik V vaccine. This afternoon, more vaccines arrived from India, by way of the Government of Dominica, and in the next few weeks, more are expected from a number of sources – through the COVAX initiative from the World Health Organisation (WHO), as well as more of the Sputnik V from private Russian sources.
Of course these two aspects are interrelated, for the higher the casualty rate, the more likely will persons be to clamour for the COVID-19 vaccines. Yet it is not as simple as that for in the midst of the worsening global pandemic, including resurgences and more virulent variants, there is significant push back against the vaccines, ranging from hesitancy to scepticism to distrust and even campaigns encouraging persons to reject all vaccines.
As with many other situations, there are those who have been using social media to mislead the uninformed and who do not make a distinction between personal choices and scientifically-proven developments. One is therefore often left with the impression that the vaccines are even more dangerous than COVID-19 virus itself, a falsehood which can be disastrous for countries like ours.
Though our situation is far from a comfortable one, it is important that we do not panic. It calls for calmness and responsibility both on the individual and collective level.
The vaccines do not provide a magic wand, we still have the responsibility, personally and collectively to follow the health protocols and take the appropriate precautions. There are challenges and inconveniences, such as in the risk of public transport for instance and gathering at community spots such as shops and recreation places. But these are challenges which we are perfectly capable of meeting if we value the health of our families, our communities and the nation as a whole.
We must not let those in our midst, bent on spreading confusion, derail the fight against COVID-19. Let us continue to give support to our health personnel who have, for almost a year, been working around the clock to keep us healthy. The greatest tribute we can pay them is to heed their advice and to resolutely take all precautions necessary to preserve the health of our nation.