The New Year Of Hope And Freedom

by Fr. Shay Cullen

“COVID-19” | Photo by Prachatai/Flickr via Creative Commons

The New Year is upon us and there is great, vibrant hope with the arrival of various vaccines that the deadly killer COVID-19 might be defeated in time. It may take a year or so if political leaders really lead and act with moral conscience and competence. We can defeat COVID-19. A vaccine will not eliminate the virus. It will still be there, but we can be protected from it. In the Philippines, a vaccine is urgently needed without delay. For sure, the economy must keep rolling on and total lockdowns are not going to be applied anytime soon but the infections and death are increasing at a rapid pace.

It is good riddance to the traumatic 2020 where millions of people have been killed by the COVID-19. Who doesn’t know that? Well, many hundreds of thousands around the world appear not to know it or believe it. In developed western nations, many don’t seem to know or acknowledge that humanity is under attack by a deadly unseen enemy that could kill them in a few weeks of getting infected.

“We can defeat COVID-19. A vaccine will not eliminate the virus. It will still be there, but we can be protected from it. In the Philippines, a vaccine is urgently needed without delay.”

These people go on living their daily life and protesting and demonstrating at the government restrictions on social distancing, wearing masks, and handwashing frequently. To them, the virus is fake news or at least is not real to them. Perhaps, they don’t read, listen, or watch the news. They ignore warnings and go partying and socially mixing and seem ignorant about the threat to life that the virus poses. It is only when they have the painful debilitating sickness do, they ask themselves, “How did I get this?”

These are the people who do not realize that they are a danger to others. They may be pre-symptomatic or asymptomatic, carrying the virus but not showing flu-like symptoms. Lucky for them but not for their friends and neighbors whom they could infect and unknowingly kill. That is why effective testing is crucial in controlling the spread. When a positive result from testing is found, then tracing of the people that have been in close contact with the infected person must be conducted and they must be tested also. This has worked very well in Taiwan, New Zealand and now in China where the virus was first detected. In these countries, it is under tight control. South Korea was a winner for a while but a new outbreak has been detected. The same is true with Thailand. Perhaps complacency set in and people lowered their guard and cast-off protective measures.

When people are tested positive, all must isolate and when extremely sick, go to a hospital. The increasing number of infected people is alarming and exceedingly serious. New records are set every day. The UK ambulance services are overwhelmed with callouts. Hospitals everywhere are short of beds and ICU facilities. Patients are parked in hospital corridors, chapels, canteens, and offices. That is the result of irresponsible social contact that has helped the virus to spread. The United States is one of the worst hit with massive new infections daily. Much of this is due to irresponsible lack of coordinated response and control fueled by ignorance, denial, and inaction among immoral political leaders devoid of intelligence and compassion. Care for and love of neighbor is not on their agenda. President-elect Joe Biden may be just in time to save millions more Americans getting infected and dying.

“This novel coronavirus is no ordinary virus, here for a while and gone. No, it is here to stay and it has one mission it seems: to transmit itself more effectively and infect and kill as many people as it can. It is a non-living organism but can evolve and mutate in a matter of months into a new, more deadly killer virus.”

This invisible deadly enemy will not be defeated quickly with the advent of vaccines, produced in astonishing fast time. There will be some shared Nobel Prizes and other awards to be handed out to the brilliant scientists and their teams that invented an effective vaccine for sure. There must also be awards to the medical personnel, doctors, nurses, and orderlies that have carried the burden of caring for the sick.

This novel coronavirus is no ordinary virus, here for a while and gone. No, it is here to stay and it has one mission it seems: to transmit itself more effectively and infect and kill as many people as it can. It is a non-living organism but can evolve and mutate in a matter of months into a new, more deadly killer virus. We witness at present a new strain these days with the new more virulent mutated virus that is spreading with even quicker and with more lethal effect as you read this.

Vaccines will take many months to be available to all people. Everyone must take every precaution while the vaccine is being administered. It will take a year before the world population is partially protected. I say partially because the experts tell us continually that there is no known evidence as to how long the vaccine will provide a person with immunity from further infection. The vaccine does not kill the virus but powers up the human immune system to fight and kill it in the body. We must continue the precautions and protective measures for at least another year at most before there will be partial protection.

“Vaccines do work and will protect many people from the virus. Then we can start, in time, to get back to a non-virus dominated life, and the emotional and economic recovery can begin. It can’t come soon enough.”

The newly UK-approved, Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is one of the best because it can be stored at ordinary refrigeration temperature so doctors and clinics can store and give it easily. It also costs much lower. It is most effective after the second jab 21 days after the first injection. However, it is a 62 to 90 percent efficacy rate depending on the patient. The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine must be stored at -70 degrees Celsius. It, as well as the Moderna vaccine, has a 95 percent efficacy rate. The Russian vaccine, Gamaleya (Sputnik V) has a 92 percent efficacy rate.

Restrictions should be mandated by law making a certificate of having been vaccinated mandatory for job applications or other public services such as a birth certificate is required for most occasions- job applications, school enrollment, and so on. Refusal to get vaccinated is endangering the public and is like passing a death sentence to others. Vaccines do work and will protect many people from the virus. Then we can start, in time, to get back to a non-virus dominated life, and the emotional and economic recovery can begin. It can’t come soon enough.

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