The deadly Delta COVID Variant has now been detected in 85 countries around the world and it is just a matter of time before it makes its presence felt in Jamaica.
This is a time of caution, a time to ensure the country is not overwhelmed by this deadly variant that wreaked havoc and death in India.
The Government has said that its number one priority is to balance lives with livelihoods. That being said, you can’t have a livelihood if you are dead.
Sceptics among us will say that the Government has given the go-ahead to party and open up the country after the public outcry following the Mocha Fest fiasco. Some might even say that party organisers wield too much influence over the governance of the country and that their self interests are able to bend the Government to their will.
Nevertheless, why is Jamaica opening up and removing curfew restrictions when countries with more robust economies like Australia, New Zealand, Portugal, Bangladesh and even Israel (which has seen to it that most of its people are vaccinated) are going back into lockdown to protect themselves against the Delta variant?
What does Jamaica know that these countries don’t?
The primary focus should be securing vaccines and seeing to it that Jamaica gets to herd immunity status reasonably quickly. To abandon caution now seems asinine and is inviting disaster to befalll the country.
About 94 per cent of the population has yet to receive a vaccine with only around 100,000 persons getting their first dose. Just 75,000 Jamaicans from a population of three million have been fully vaccinated. At this rate, when will Jamaica attain herd immunity? One can only do the math and hope the cavalry gets here soon.
The fact remains that Jamaica is one of the least vaccinated countries in the region and, despite this, has decided to open up. What has to be borne in mind is the difficulty of securing vaccines despite the valiant efforts of Howard Mitchell.
One would have therefore assumed the inclination would be vigilance against a virulent outbreak, but the approach taken has been the opposite.
In the UK, daily COVID cases have risen above 20,000 for a second day in a row. In the United States, in communities that have low rates of vaccination, the Delta variant now accounts for 36 per cent of sequenced cases in the past two weeks according to covSpectrum tracker.
About 55 per cent of the US population has received one or more doses of a vaccine according to the CDC.
With the US and United Kingdom (UK) being major tourism source markets, there may be trouble ahead with this variant. Already Jamaica has not made the UK’s green light list of countries to which its citizens are allowed to travel. We all know why.
“The data out of the UK showing how quickly the Delta variant became the dominant variant there is strong evidence that it is more transmissible than the Alpha variant, which we already thought was more transmissible than the original lineages,“ said Andrew Pekosz, a professor at Johns Hopkins University.
Let’s be clear here – COVID-19 is spreading rapidly among unvaccinated populations and countries where restrictions have been lifted.
There have now been 180 million cases of COVID infections across the world with 2.8 billion doses of vaccine administered.
“More cases, more hospitalisations, further stretching health workers and health systems which increases the risk of death. Those who have vaccines are getting better significantly and they’re opening up their society. Those who don’t have vaccines are facing serious COVID situations with serious surges in cases and deaths due to COVID. That’s the reality now,” said Director-General of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
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