Vital lessons for mankind from this pandemicSunday, April 25, 2021
It is not unreasonable to argue that the pandemic caused by novel coronavirus and its mutations have been far more devastating than they had to be, for several reasons.
Domestic politics played a terrible role in some countries, where insecure leaders downplayed the impact of the virus, even contradicting the scientists and medical practitioners who took seriously the impending danger.
Even after presidents Donald Trump and Jair Bolsonaro contracted COVID-19 they continued to downplay the seriousness of virus. The result was that many of their supporters chose to disregard the advice about wearing masks and social distancing.
Regrettably, complacency was covertly rampant in countries where it was assumed, apparently, that such massive outbreaks of disease occur only in poor, developing countries; for example severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in Asia and Ebola in Africa.
Attitudes were such that few realised that the public health systems of the developed countries of North America and Western Europe had not been tested by anything as devastating as COVID-19. And so they had a false sense of security.
This was evidenced in the many wealthy people from all over the world who opted to migrate to developed countries or to seek medical diagnosis and treatment in the much-vaunted medical institutions of those countries.
It is now well established that the inequality of income and wealth between social classes had placed the poor at a distinct disadvantage in information, access to treatment, the ability to social distance, and the access to vaccines.
Most of the world's poor live in developing countries and, not surprisingly, are and will be the last to get vaccinated. This is dangerous because nobody is safe until there is natural immunity, which means that the majority of people worldwide are vaccinated.
It will not suffice to rely on the claim that hoarding of the vaccines is caused by the slow manufacturing process leading to supply shortages. We are aware, however, that since “parson christen him pickney first”, human nature will take over when there is scarcity.
Logically, the answer to inadequate supply is not equitable schemes of distribution, but increased production. The pharmaceutical companies, it is reported, are operating at maximum productive capacity. But production is concentrated in a few countries.
By March 3, 2021 some 413 million doses had been produced globally. China has produced 145 million; the United States, 103 million; Germany and Belgium, 71 million; India, 43 million; United Kingdom, 13 million; The Netherlands, 10.5 million; Russia, 10.5 million; Switzerland, 5.5 million; South Korea, 1.6 million; and Brazil, 200,000.
The answer to increasing the supply of vaccines is to license their production to as many countries as possible where suitable standard manufacturing facilities exist or can be installed quickly.
We hope that mankind has learnt much from this pandemic and so will be in a much better position in preparing for future eventualities.
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