Why we must vaccinate the World not just ourselves

Masks and social distancing are as important now as they have been for the past 20 months. Please don’t be a covidiot

The sudden emergence of a new variant called omicron by the WHO, should serve to remind us all that just ensuring that rich countries gear up with full vaccination programmes will not save people in poor countries from catching virus variations incubated in unvaccinated people.

There are still many questions about the new omicron strain to which we have few answers: to what extent will the variant diminish the vaccines’ potency? Just how infectious is it? Does it cause greater disease? And what does this all mean for the trajectory of the pandemic?

The scientists are already hard at work exploring these issues and assessing the genetic make-up of the variant – though health officials believe it’s likely to take up to eight weeks until we’re able to develop a clear picture of what’s going on, and what lies ahead.

In the UK we have some cause for optimism. We are heavily inoculated with many people having had three Covid jabs now. But our death rate is rising, our hospitals are being to fill, and the number of cases is still about 50,000 a week. It is hoped that the vaccines that we have will be effective against this new variant but we cannot be sure.

Almost certainly they will reduce the potency of the illness amongst those of us that have had the full jab treatment, but it could be even more deadly than the delta variant amongst those who think that the virus does not exist or it is a fiendish plan by Bill Gates to control the world!

This is one of the many reasons why alarm bells have been ringing not only in South Africa, but in the rest of the world because of what is at the moment a relatively small infection in South Africa where cases have surged throughout November, with the majority of these infections reported in Gauteng province. As many as 90 per cent of new cases in the region could have been caused by the new mutation.  It seems to be more effective at transmission than delta and if that proves to be the case, it will only be a matter of time before the variant dominates globally.

Yesterday, the world reacted in two ways. Firstly, most European Countries effectively banned travel or introduced tough quarantine rules to the 6 Southern African countries clustered around South Africa.

Secondly world stick markets dropped by 3% as investors began to think about what a resurgent virus would to do travel, trade, commerce and industry.

The fact that Government’s reacted so quickly to the emergence of the new strain is because they know that for a variety of reasons eventually the strain will reach our shores. In an age of global connectivity, we cannot stop the virus at our borders. At some time, it will get through and then, perhaps, run rampant through our Countries.

I say ‘perhaps’ because there is still much to learn about this strain. It might fizzle out, it might not be as deadly as it appears, it might not transmit as easily as it seems. When faced with the options of keeping their fingers crossed or acting most governments in Europe have acted. Quite right too!

Regardless of what answers the scientists bring back from their laboratories, it is reassuring to see such a swift response to the variant, which those in Whitehall believe to be the “worst we’ve seen so far”. The UK has jumped straight onto the front foot by placing several countries from southern Africa on its red travel list.

The WHO recently warned that a degree of complacency had begun to set in. “The fight is over,” many believe; “We won.” This insouciance takes many forms – from not bothering to wear a mask, to governments failing to donate thousands of surplus vaccine doses to those in need – but it can be overcome. Regardless of what comes of B.1.1.529, hopefully it serves as a much-needed reminder that we’re all in this together.

That is the situation we need to address in two ways.

Firstly, we must make sure that all the Countries of the world have strong vaccination programmes. This should be done for selfless reasons because we want to help. In fact, we should also be doing it for selfish reasons, if we don’t new strains will emerge and eventually one will overwhelm our defences.

Secondly, we must all continue to be careful. I continue to wear a mask in public places and on public transport. Sometimes I have been the only one on the bus or in the train carriage who was doing so. I will be attending a big public event later. I will again wear my mask. This is NOT an infringement of my civil liberties it’s my way of caring for myself and those with whom I am mixing.

Above all if you haven’t yet been vaccinated get on with it go and do it. Its free and reasonably convenient locations have been set up in Liverpool for you to attend as they have been throughout the richer countries of the world.

A huge proportion of those seriously ill or dying globally are those who have not been vaccinated either by choice or poverty. Death bed conversions are possibly good for some religions, but they are no good for vaccinations. Please, please don’t die because of stupidity or politics.

About richardkemp

Leader of the Liberal Democrats in Liverpool. Deputy Chair and Lib Dem Spokesperson on the LGA Community Wellbeing Board. Married to the lovely Cllr Erica Kemp CBE with three children and four grandchildren.
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1 Response to Why we must vaccinate the World not just ourselves

  1. This is an old article from January 2021 but the issue it describes is very pertinent to your discussion. Vaccines must be produced, patent-free, for all | Morning Star https://morningstaronline.co.uk/article/f/vaccines-must-be-produced-patent-free-all.

    I’m from Montreal, Canada but have been campaigning on Twitter and communicating with the UN for ten years on the welfare crisis in the UK:

    Sick and disabled people struggle to survive – there’s no denying it | Letters | The Guardian https://www.theguardian.com/society/2019/feb/05/sick-and-disabled-people-struggle-to-survive-theres-no-denying-it

    Richard, I tweet your blog on a regular basis and am fond of your work. I wish to extend my best holiday wishes to you and your family. Stay safe and God bless!

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