I got my second COVID-19 vaccination shot yesterday. I am elated to finally complete this process. So many unnecessary lives were lost just so I live. Something I don’t take for granted. That and the fact that racism was at the root cause of the inequities we all witnessed first hand with the pandemic. Racism meant that there were structural barriers, pervasive one that contributed to thousands of unnecessary deaths. Racism meant that individuals and families and communities of color were most impacted by the pandemic. Racism also meant that more healthcare workers of color, an estimated 3,600 health care workers in the USA died from the pandemic and two thirds were people of color. Let that sink it for a moment. An estimated 66% of the health care workers that died as a result of the pandemic were people of color. So yea, racism is a serious public health problem and I applaud bold leaders like the director of CDC for describing it as such. For me, I am alert, restless maybe, for light, for change. Something has to give.
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.