We can all give thanks that the New Year brings hope. The much-awaited vaccines could mean Covid-19’s departure. But the logistics of inoculating everyone globally, or least enough of us to stymie the virus, is proving costly and difficult. Small island states like Jamaica lack the buying power and the influence to protect their citizens early. That means things here could get worse before they get better because of the long wait we may have to endure.
To complicate an already tenuous situation, enough people here are antivaxxers to scare the rest of us. Their understandable fear of potentially unwelcome side effects, however, can put everyone at risk. So, it’s important the authorities educate the public about everything related to the vaccines.
We should also be grateful that there is more than one vaccine, which means a chance for us to find relief faster than what the COVAX Facility offers. COVAX is a global risk-sharing mechanism for pooled buying and equitable distribution of vaccines. Not wanting to be limited by COVAX’s schedule, Jamaica’s Ministry of Health is looking to broker vaccines from elsewhere, like Cuba, China and India. If successful, we could start vaccine protection before COVAX’s April timetable.
There are other obstacles that can derail our best laid plans. We’ve imported the new strain that has complicated the UK’s efforts to deal the virus a crushing blow. If that strain spreads here our indiscipline could be punishing. Worse, other new strains are being discovered elsewhere, raising speculation that the world may not be virus free for some years. And to add a Jamaican twist, there is now a scammer operation with Covid-19 tests.
Derailed from an economic lift just before Covid-19, Jamaica must now restart the hard work of recovery and readjustment to the virus’ negative impact. We must do so even as we try to control the amount of infections, a tough job for a popular tourism destination. Let’s pray we have the wisdom and the courage to do just that and to overcome what is still the world’s severest challenge in perhaps a century. Let’s hope the end is in sight and we can embrace the notion that we will finally have a shot at normalcy once again.