Required for a truly pandemic-free world – patience and cooperation

Two things we need lots of more to really wrestle the pandemic into submission – patience and cooperation. Two things we aren’t very good at – patience and cooperation!

After struggling without great success in most countries to try to contain this new, highly contagious virus about which the world’s medical experts knew nothing a year ago, vaccines are now available and everyone sees hope. Sorry, folks, but while having vaccines does offer a glimmer of hope on the horizon, it remains a distant horizon.

Because a significant minority of people (and some leaders) in most wealthy countries have ignored the requirements to stay home and stay safe/wear your mask/social distance, not only has the virus continued to spread, but we have provided the virus with the ideal environment in which to mutate. That’s its main purpose in life: to mutate so as to become more transmissible and more viral. And that’s where we are now. We know about the UK variant, the South African variant, and the Brazilian variant. They have already spread far and wide. Do you really think those are the only variants the virus has come up with?!

The arrival of vaccines is a great step forward, for sure. The fact that the world’s scientific community has been able to develop effective vaccines so quickly – in 9 months rather than the more typical 9 years – is extraordinary and welcome. It’s a miracle, really. Its speed is a tribute to the scientific techniques that have been under development for the past decade or more, supported by government funding in many countries, including the U.S., Germany, UK, China, and Russia. However, as has been stated recently by chief health experts in both wealthy and poor nations, this virus is not contained until everyone in all countries has been vaccinated. The virus knows no borders. Cooperation among nations is essential.

It’s wonderful if you are vaccinated. But it’s not a panacea. Not just yet. Probably not for many, many months or longer. Vaccinating everyone in your region, or country, is a step forward, but if the people in the next region or next country or getting off the next plane are not vaccinated – or are not wearing their mask and keeping their distance – then the virus is happily able to thrive. It can continue to spread, and even better from its perspective it can continue to mutate, becoming even more contagious and more virulent. So get vaccinated as soon as your category comes up in your jurisdiction, but please don’t make the mistake of thinking that this is your passport to do whatever you want to do. It just doesn’t work that way. Wear your mask and keep your social distance, vaccine or no vaccine. Patience is a virtue.

Currently, access to the vaccine has become a political football. Which government can vaccinate the most citizens most quickly is the name of the game. My country can vaccinate more citizens than yours. I’m going to keep all the vaccines produced in my country, even if the private company that produces it has already signed contracts with other countries. The EU and Brexit’ed UK are at each other’s throats at the moment over vaccine access. Patience and cooperation would go a long way towards lowering the temperature and helping smooth access to the vaccines for all.

Unless nobody wants to travel outside their country’s borders for the foreseeable future, or outside their region for that matter, it won’t help all that much if 40% of your country’s residents are vaccinated while only 2% of another country’s residents are vaccinated. Keep in mind that we may have miraculous new vaccines, but the manufacturers can’t necessarily produce billions of doses overnight. And if the wealthy countries don’t keep an eye out for ensuring vaccines reach poor countries, then the virus will always have plenty of places to keep spreading and mutating, eventually boarding a plane for one of the wealthy, well-vaccinated countries. That’s the modus operandi of the virus. And the vaccines won’t necessarily protect everyone from new variants. We need to pay attention to how we protect the whole world with respect to this virus; it’s not just a good idea, it’s in all of our best interests.

Just yesterday, the chief medical officer in my province, Dr. Jennifer Russell, made the following observations during her daily COVID-19 update:

Public Health is bracing for a dangerous, variant-driven third wave of the pandemic in New Brunswick and is making changes to the province’s colour-coded recovery levels because of it.

Speaking at live-streamed COVID-19 update on Friday — the one-year anniversary of the province’s first pandemic news conference — Dr. Jennifer Russell said that because of the variant threat, no region will move past the orange level for “many weeks.”

“The third wave is going to be upon us soon, and it is going to be much worse than the first and second wave combined,” Russell said, noting there are “four variants we are concerned about – and there will be more.”

“The variants are going to come to New Brunswick, they may already be here. They’ll arrive without us knowing … they will spread quickly, and they will outrun our ability to contact trace.”

This is from the chief medical officer of a small out-of-the way province whose borders to both the U.S. and Quebec have been closed since March, a province where more citizens follow the rules than in many jurisdictions, a province with few cases compared to most other provinces and all states. She understands that it doesn’t take many rule-breakers for the spread to start. Folks, this is our reality. We need patience. We need to cooperate with the government officials who are trying their best to keep us safe. Our government officials need to cooperate with other government officials. We’re in this for the long haul, like it or not. Patience and cooperation is what will help us achieve a positive outcome.

 

STAY HOME, SAVE LIVES

WEAR YOUR MASK WHEN YOU LEAVE HOME,  EVEN OUTSIDE IF YOU’RE NEAR OTHER PEOPLE

KEEP UP THE SOCIAL DISTANCING

GET VACCINATED WHEN YOUR TURN COMES

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26 Responses to Required for a truly pandemic-free world – patience and cooperation

  1. jane tims says:

    hi Jane. A great post. Just add to the uncertainty due to the probability that boosters will likely be needed to ensure any one individual is protected.

  2. You’re on my weekly catch up list and oh Jane, I couldn’t agree more with the need to stay vigilant, be patient and wait – it’s almost like one of the most challenging things that’s been thrown at us – just as there’s a glimmer or two of hope that way down the line things could/might return to “nomal”, some people suddenly get gung ho, throw caution to the wind and expect, because they’ve had their first jab, they can relax & be less cautious. I expect to be stuck on Brexit Island for a while yet – not terribly enticing, but that’s the way things have to be right now.

    • Jane Fritz says:

      Your weekly catch-up list, I’m honoured! Yes, you and I agree on the necessity of staying in place. If we want to feel safe when we do eventually venture afield – and feel confident that we are not inadvertently harming others – then it’s our only recourse.

  3. barryh says:

    Thanks Jane. Great post! We really are all in this together, and it really is one interconnected world. Britain is now belatedly closing its borders to all but trade. But for how long can we stay sane behind these walls we’re erecting, and how are we going to open up again?

    • Jane Fritz says:

      Thanks, Barry. How are we going to open up again, indeed. That’s the big question. So far, any time anywhere starts opening up again, the virus rushes in. I guess we won’t be able to fully open up safely until 50-60% of all populations are vaccinated. That’s no time soon. But I was glad to see on BBC World News just now that Pfizer is sending a healthy shipment to SA.

  4. Great post, and I totally agree with Dr. Russell. The topic of the third wave hasn’t really been mentioned here in BC by our top public health official Dr. Bonnie Henry. She’s trying to stay positive, although the vaccine delivery setbacks are making it tougher for her. She’s also expressed real worry that the 500 new cases, on average, in our province everyday is not a good sign. We’re on the precipice of something else, but more British Columbians are losing patience. Mental health issues grow larger, more businesses are shutting down, and there’s no clear end in sight. I’m not convinced that the majority of the population will be vaccinated by the end of Sept due to manufacturing glitches and political sparring. Yet, I still remain optimistic that with each day we live through this we’re also one day closer to some sort of normalcy. So, I’ll remain patient because it’s the best course of action for me and my family, and my community.

    • Jane Fritz says:

      You’ve said it all, Debra. There’s so much for decision makers to balance, with so many businesses in trouble, especially small local businesses. Not to mention everything having to do with travel and entertainment. It’s hard to take it all in. But in fighting the virus, those who decide they can’t obey the rules anymore are just ensuring that it lasts even longer. I will try to share your cautious optimism.

  5. Paulie says:

    Vaccine access is not so much a political football as it is an economic one. Vaccine equity is going the way of just about everything else, those that have get and those that don’t are on their own. Or as a friend of mine once put it, “Money talks – BS walks” – or in this case dies.
    Just this morning I heard a commentary by Fareed Zakaria who said that Canada has procured (and obviously not received) enough vaccine to inoculate it’s population 5 times over (I’m not picking on Canada here. That’s the example that he gave. I would guess that the U.S. is doing similar). Meanwhile Nigeria is left begging.
    Agreed we need to be patient but we also need a medical community that is on the same page. And this is where I’m losing my patience.
    Just a couple of weeks ago an “expert”, a real medical person said that masks are more or less optional when you’re out biking or on a recreational path. But wait – just late last week Fauci seemed to do a two step on mask protocol while another “expert” suggested two masks AND a face shield.
    Well, why not three masks? Or four? Five masks and two face shields? A half dozen masks and a gas mask? Was Congressman Matt Gaetz, a Trump loyalist crackpot, a man before his time when he wore a gas mask on the floor of Congress as a joke? This mixed messaging is just the kind of thing that is giving fuel to those who are pushing back on reasonable protocols.
    My daughter and I, and we are both religious maskers (though neither of us pray) agreed that the simple mask protocol has become confusing. “We’re on our own,” she said. And I agree.
    For myself? I’m going to travel some this year. Not on a plane and not in a city. Maybe I’ll go to some of those parks I’ve long wanted to visit. Rent an RV where I can stay self sufficient and go to Death Valley or Olympic National Park.

    • Jane Fritz says:

      I agree completely about equality-inequality and the wealthy nations needing to have their eye on their global responsibility. But the notion being bandied about, including from one of my usual heroes, Fareed Zakaria, that the rich countries have all this vaccine is somewhat misleading. I have also seen this notion that, for example, Canada has ordered 4-5X its population in vaccines. Perhaps, but currently the country has only received vaccine for 3% of it population, and 2.5% have been vaccinated, with vulnerable remote indigenous communities getting priority. In my province, we hope to have received enough vaccine to have inoculated all healthcare workers, long term care home workers, and LTC residents by the end of March. Period. Then they hope to have enough to start the oldsters. And the Brits are fighting with the EU about who gets what when. Meanwhile, the protocol for distribution is all over the map, especially from state to state in the US. Canada does not have any production facilities and so is at the mercy of whatever. And whatever is what the world seems to be about these days. I am hopeful that when there really is sufficient vaccine for fuller distribution that Canada will do what it can to help poorer countries. If the rich countries don’t help the poor countries the only winner will be the virus.

      It’s the cheating to get a vaccine ahead of the queue in places that I read about that really gets me. What a bunch. You and your daughter have it right.

  6. Reblogged this on Musings and Wonderings and commented:
    Some level headed thoughts on our current situation, thanks Jane.

  7. Hats off to you for this one, Jane. We’re not going to get anywhere if so many people don’t follow the simple rules. I’m now wearing two masks, and honestly I’d wear three if they said I should. – Marty

  8. AP2 says:

    Well said Jane. Together we win. Divided we fall. Stay safe, AP2 🙏

  9. bernieLynne says:

    I am starting to understand the term pandemic fatigue because yes it’s nowhere near over. I belong to a compliant family but unfortunately know many families who aren’t in a province that is surprising in its non-compliance, because they are health guidelines and not laws. It has become so political with 70 year olds in the premier’s riding getting access to vaccines and my 95 year old mother’s health region not having access to any besides what went to nursing homes.

    • Jane Fritz says:

      I know, Bernie, it’s a long, long haul. We’re all going to have to hurry up and wait, shot or no shot, politician or no politician. The virus is not in a hurry. 😥

  10. AMWatson207 says:

    Strong medicine, but we need to hear it and keep hearing it.

  11. Andrew says:

    Mindfulness can help with both:)

  12. Amen! You hit the nail right on the head. I am happy to report that many people I know are wearing two masks and are being very careful. Unfortunately, this is not true for everyone in Maine. On the plus side, our numbers are dropping. Stay well, be safe!

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