By day, I am a global health researcher. The past year has been surreal. To not be able to travel for work has also been challenging. I expected the pandemic to last this long. I knew vaccines take time to make and even take longer times to distribute. I am in awe that we were able to make the COVID19 vaccines in record time. That the world began to get vaccinated within 10 months of the pandemic is no small feat. It will go down in history as one of science most enduring achievements, if only we ensure that everyone has access to it. If only we disseminate the vaccines equally. Not for rich countries only, but and especially for those extremely limited in resources.
The pandemic is already felt unequally by many. And an unequal access to the vaccines may nullify all scientific achievements made to bring the pandemic to an end. What good is it to vaccinate some people and not others, some places and not others, ‘rich’ countries, and not ‘poor’ ones, even some continents and not others. ‘No economy, however big, will be immune to the effects of the virus until the pandemic is brought to an end everywhere,” said John Denton, secretary general of the International Chamber of Commerce. No place too. Every single corner of this earth literally matters for this pandemic to end. Every single person to. I would like to return back to work. I expect that this may not be the case until 2022. That would be 2 years of no traveling for work. It’s a tough pill to swallow. I am keeping myself busy with other tasks in the meantime. However, I would prefer that we keep spreading the vaccines equally. Not only for rich countries, but for all countries, especially those limited in resources.
When the history of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic is written, what will those of us in public health note we accomplished? How would we present the success and failures with proactively maintaining measures such as wearing masks or practicing social distance or even avoiding large crowds?Where did we go wrong with taking care of the public’s health? How did the public not understand that ending the pandemic depended on us, you and me?
These questions trouble me as our nation recorded 184,000 new cases yesterday according to NPR. With more new cases, come deaths and the winter season has not fully begun. At the present time, it remains that all our pleas to practice basic public health measures is wasted. All the valuable advice and even education presented about the virus by key experts are unknown or unheeded and therefore not utilized by the public. The next couple of months is perhaps the most difficult that the public will experience with a pandemic that shows no sign of abating, respects no authority, and inflicts more harm than good. Not to heed the public health’s simple and clear messages, like wear a mask, or practice social distance, is equivalent to stepping backwards or rounding the corner to the beginning of the pandemic. We keep rounding the corner to the start of the pandemic and frankly, I am tired. With more cases, come more deaths? Whom shall we blame? Ourselves?
The public’s health is very fragile now. Do your part to actually end the pandemic by heeding the advice from public health leaders. Let it not be known, that your loved one tested positive or even died. Ignorance to public health, whether a blessing or a curse is real. Whatever your disposition today, know the virus has its own agenda and doesn’t care about yours. The next couple of months are indeed critical and for the public’s health, it will depend on you and me.