“By the end of this winter everyone in Germany will either be vaccinated, recovered or dead. … Freedom means taking responsibility, and there is a duty to society to get vaccinated.”
- German Health Minister Jens Spahn
After the punishing Delta wave and now with much lower case numbers and deaths, there is a lulling complacency setting in yet again throughout the country about the trajectory of the COVID-19 pandemic.
There is no all-out urgency in promoting the vaccine. The vaccine rate has dropped precipitously. There is a distancing by some in the political directorate from highlighting at every opportunity the need for Bahamians to get vaccinated. Are we at risk of having to discard some vaccines?
We have a very long and painful way to go in the pandemic, with more suffering and heartbreak and long-term illness. With many restrictions now removed, including curfews, a coming season of dying is going to be punishing and debilitating.
In a new wave, there is the possibility of terrible community spread in the Family Islands, with a good number of residents dying because of a lack of intensive care units and other tools in these communities.
With approximately only 36 percent of Bahamians fully vaccinated, we are unprepared for the next major onslaught of the virus, which is going to kill and make seriously ill many more Bahamians, many of whom who are living in a state of make-believe and unreality.
A number of those who are now frolicking, happily making Christmas preparations and enjoying themselves at various events, are going to be dead sometime next year because they have not been vaccinated and are not taking precautions.
Look around the Christmas festivities and table this year. A number of those who are unvaccinated will not be there next Christmas! The virus has resulted in multiple deaths in families. There are more of these to come.
The obituaries in the dailies will continue to spill over into the broadsheets, with funeral homes and mortuaries enjoying banner profits because some refuse a free vaccine that may save their life. There is a free Christmas gift we can give ourselves and those we love: a lifesaving vaccine courtesy of the Government of The Bahamas.
Among those converted to the need for a vaccine are some who were rabid anti-vaxxers, who caught the disease, suffered terribly, and are now among the more pro-vaccine. They are fortunate because they lived to share the story of their conversion.
Despite the many deaths from the Delta variant, the terrible illness, and anxiety and fear, many have retreated into magical thinking. Many are blithely unaware there are more waves on the way, believing the worst has passed.
There will be an increase in vaccine uptake, which will only likely come after the next wave, with many frightened that they will die. Then after that wave kills many Bahamians, there will be another lull, with people going back to business as usual.
Then the next wave will come, with an increase in uptake. This cycle could go on for some time. Even in the most highly vaccinated countries in the world, new waves continue to assault the unvaccinated. This includes various countries in Europe with full vaccination rates of 60 percent and over.
For context, we have enough vaccines on hand to make us one of the more vaccinated developing countries in the world. Quite a number of developing countries desperately desire more vaccines.
Sadly, despite the quantity of vaccines we have, there is mass complacency on many levels. When shopping or going about this Christmas, remember the vast majority of others are unvaccinated and have no intention at this time to receive a vaccine.
There is a lack of discipline and seriousness in The Bahamas in the best of times. In a difficult time such as a pandemic, these mindsets exacerbate the crisis at hand. This is compounded by the reality that most Bahamians have an exceedingly limited appreciation of how the pandemic is affecting other countries.
Most Bahamians do not read newspapers or watch news broadcasts of substance. Most have no general knowledge of basic world facts and affairs. The tsunami of misinformation on social media controls the worldviews, attitudes and decisions of most Bahamians.
While there is some limited awareness by Bahamians of COVID-19 in the US, there is a pervasive general ignorance of how the pandemic is affecting many other countries.
A good friend recalls a conversation at the beginning of the pandemic with an associate.
The former noted to the latter that several hundred people were dying every day in Italy. The associate stated: “You mean that’s the number of people who have died all together so far.” The response: “No, that’s the number of people dying every day.”
The vast majority of Bahamians are unaware of how the disease is now ravaging much of Europe again, including warnings about the hundreds of thousands of unvaccinated Europeans who will die between now and February of next year.
According to a report in the UK Guardian, the World Health Organization (WHO) notes that: “Total deaths across Europe from COVID-19 are likely to exceed two million by March next year.” The pandemic has become the leading cause of death regionally.
“Reported deaths have risen to nearly 4,200 a day, double the number being recorded in September, the agency said, while cumulative reported deaths in the region, which includes the UK, have already surpassed 1.5 million.”
Austria is in such dire straits that the country is in a new lockdown, and will mandate that citizens are vaccinated as of February next year.
Germany is experiencing its highest infection rate since the beginning of the pandemic, recently reporting in a 24-hour period, 30,643 new infections, which was 7,000 more than the previous week. The country now has one of the highest infection rates in the world.
Alas, this makes no difference to most Bahamians, who do not know what is happening in Austria or Germany nor are concerned about what is happening in other countries relative to the pandemic.
Imagine being repeatedly warned there is a Category 5 hurricane headed for The Bahamas, more powerful and dangerous than Dorian. Most people would make various preparations to avoid death or injury.
Yet, many if not most Bahamians, are not prepared nor do they intend to be prepared for the coming storms cum waves of COVID-19. What makes our situation depressingly tragic and depressing is we know what is coming.
We know how to prevent illness and death. We have vaccines. Yet, there is a madness throughout the country. The likely result: hundreds more easily preventable deaths on the horizon.
With our low vaccination rate, we are going to keep experiencing wave after wave after wave, with the virus mocking our stupidity, our ignorance, our insanity and our carelessness.
The same magical and wishful thinking that has been present throughout the near two years of the pandemic continues, despite the hundreds of Bahamians and millions of people globally who are dead!
Quite a number of Bahamians who remain unvaccinated are still not moved to get vaccinated, even though many personally know family members, friends and colleagues who have gotten sick or who are dead.
As we approach Advent and Christmas, we are reminded of how the light of hope can penetrate the seemingly most impenetrable darkness. Continue to lovingly encourage others to get vaccinated.
The greatest gift one may give this Christmas is the gift of life by encouraging the unvaccinated to get vaccinated so that they may be here next Christmas and for more birthdays, anniversaries and holidays to come.