Working together

At the eighth meeting of the Emergency Committee on July 14 convened by WHO Director-General, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, among other things, it was declared that the debilitating Covid-19 pandemic is “nowhere near finished”.

As the Committee declared, the pandemic itself “continues to evolve with four variants of concern dominating global epidemiology”; at the same time, it recognised “the strong likelihood for the emergence and global spread of new and possibly more dangerous variants of concern that may be even more challenging to control”.

Additionally, “The Committee unanimously agreed that the Covid-19 pandemic still constitutes an extraordinary event that continues to adversely affect the health of populations around the world, poses a risk of international spread and interference with international traffic, and requires a coordinated international response.”

By now we should all be aware that while Covid-19’s tenacious grip is loosening with adherence to social distancing, handwashing, masking, and acquisition of double vaccine doses, in the eternal line by American poet, Robert Frost, there are many miles to go before we sleep.

The WHO noted this enduring distance we are yet to traverse in its statement on the divergences in national practices, saying, “The pandemic remains a challenge globally with countries navigating different health, economic and social demands. The Committee noted that regional and economic differences are affecting access to vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics.”

Also, it added, “Countries with advanced access to vaccines and well-resourced health systems are under pressure to fully reopen their societies and relax the [Public Health and Social Measures]. Countries with limited access to vaccines are experiencing new waves of infections, seeing erosion of public trust and growing resistance to PHSM, growing economic hardship, and, in some instances, increasing social unrest.”

Even as the responses to Covid-19 evidence polarity as nations and governments continue to travel in divergent directions, dissonance is also becoming more noticeable at an individual level, where some are making irrational, unscientific decisions to forego life-saving practices against becoming infected with Covid-19, particularly in acquiring vaccinations. That it is being stated in scientific circles we are now into a “pandemic of the unvaccinated” is troubling, and a cause for concern over global recovery.

Here in Canada, it was reported by CBC earlier this week that more than 79 percent of those eligible have already received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, which means over six million are still waiting, or have chosen to forego vaccination. According to the figures, the number of new first doses administered since June 16 has now dipped well under 100,000 daily injections.

However, the good news out of the US is the latest data from the US Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey show vaccine hesitancy declining nationwide, from 21.6 percent in January to 10.8 percent in July. However, some American states are still showing high rates of resistance by individuals, such as Wyoming with 25.6 percent, and West Virginia with 22.4 percent.

In Guyana, Ministry of Health figures this month indicate that 241,680 persons have already received a first dose of a vaccine, and 126,620 persons are now fully vaccinated. However, the figures also reveal that vaccination turnout has been slowing down substantially, with fewer individuals visiting inoculation centres.

In Trinidad and Tobago, concern over a delayed post-pandemic recovery due to hesitancy has seen calls to the government to make vaccinations mandatory. While the government weighs its options, a social media survey by the Trinidad Express last week revealed the majority of respondents to be vaccine hesitant and unwilling to entertain punitive governmental intervention.

It is a long and winding road ahead to recovery, but with an end to the journey in sight. To arrive there means working together, as nations, and individuals, at a global level.