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The COVID-19 challenge rethink

Al Miller

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

It is imperative that as an independent nation we take a hard and dispassionate look at the approach in tackling the COVID-19 problem. The prime minister has rightly said he has no intention of locking down the country. I am encouraged to hear that, as I am convinced from having read much of the research, listened to various positions and what many other nations and doctors are doing.

We continue to commend the Government and medical professionals on the management of the pandemic, to date. I encourage all citizens to responsibly follow the protocols and do not reason and justify contrary action based on apparent inconsistencies.

As the Government begins to tackle the most urgent matters, I am suggesting that the whole approach to fight COVID-19 needs a rethink; and a new conversation needs to take place openly. We are six months into dealing with COVID-19 and as such we ought not to be at the same place, doing the same things in the same way, given that our knowledge base has improved.

Fear, based on ignorance, should not continue to be the driving force in response to the pandemic. Knowledge, science, data and experience have taught us much and indicate a basis for change from the current demanded behaviour, which goes against that which is normative. Without reasoned argument that answers mounting questions it can appear to be oppressive, controlling and pandering to external interest groups. This could cause the society to lose confidence in our leadership, thus weakening levels of compliance.

We must open up new conversations around the approach to the COVID-19 crisis as the one source of information, the World Health Organization (WHO), can no longer be accepted as the only source of credible knowledge after eight months; not when so much is at stake and some presented positions can appear to defy logic, critical thinking, and analysis. It is one thing to think that you are right in your opinions, but it is another thing when in the free world you seek to shut out other opinions or discredit them, that is suspect.

Jamaicans are rightly concerned about the economy; the welfare of our children's education; the livelihood of our people; the suffering of the poor; and the compromising of our rights, freedom of choice and liberties. We will and must always be prepared to make sacrifices but we need to have the confidence that all factors are considered in an atmosphere of transparency and truth.

There are critical questions that must be asked and answered at this time to ensure the continued integrity of the process. As in a game of football you cannot be in a must-win match where you are three-nil down and resort to defensive play. The coach must analyse and instruct for aggressive tactical attacking play. We have to take the fight to COVID-19. We know that it cannot easily penetrate a strong immune system, it cannot survive in heat, it affects the respiratory system, and first lodges in the nasal passage and penetrates the lungs if unchecked. We also know that certain available safe drugs, if taken in approved dosages, can both be therapeutic (cure) and even prophylactic (prevent).

Many doctors both internationally and locally are using them successfully. We have to attack this pandemic frontally in our own best self-interest. The matter must be opened up for dialogue and debates if necessary. What is more important, is it the lives of our citizens and advancing the welfare of our nation, or toeing a line for the agenda of others, whatever that is? Will we do the nothing but defensive fear tactic or go to attack mode that can lead to victory?

We have not heard from international advisors about launching a massive education programme on how to build up the immune system, of how to apply any of the known and proven modalities to clear the nasal passage as is done for asthmatics and congestion. Why are certain drugs recently withdrawn or restricted for use in our market? What of the drugs that are able to quickly clear the lungs for extreme cases? What are we currently treating patients with at our hospitals or is it mainly observation for defensive control?

Somebody must answer these questions or challenge my approach if it can't work. It is time for open and serious discussion to save lives and our economy and make Jamaica attack and win, or at least lose trying to win.

We are Jamaicans; we like to win. Let's therefore move urgently into attack mode and press to win. With prayer and wise work we can subdue this virus and lead the world in a cutting-edge approach. But we must be open to do more than we have been doing, as the evidence is clear we are not winning with current strategy alone.


Rev Al Miller is senior pastor of Fellowship Tabernacle. Send comments to the Jamaica Observer or