The New Virus Vaccine Nationalism

There is much frustration over the new and sudden quarantine rules imposed on holidaying. The question is whether the rules are fair, with very little notice given. Holidays must be pre-planned, booked in advance to suit the work schedule, family finances, among other considerations.

by Victor Cherubim

Wear a mask, don’t wear a mask; work from home, go back to work; start to enjoy life once again, but with restrictions; go on holiday, don’t go on holiday to Spain, come back from your holiday in Spain and be quarantined for 14 days on your return, without pay and many, many odd restrictions have made life difficult, if not impossible.

This is partly a function of a fast moving and an unprecedented situation caused by the pandemic. Families are singing the new melody: “oh my darling quarantine?” To go or not to go is the question. But more simply, it is where and when to go?

The public in Britain and in many other parts of the world, are slowly but steadily becoming risk averse. Psychologists are of the opinion that in days and months to follow, the pandemic would have created a new psychosis.

The Second Coming

There is much frustration over the new and sudden quarantine rules imposed on holidaying. The question is whether the rules are fair, with very little notice given. Holidays must be pre-planned, booked in advance to suit the work schedule, family finances, among other considerations.

We are told that there was a sudden change of mind by authorities, by “follow the science experts,” about the spike in Europe and perhaps, a fear a second coming of the Coronavirus infection, couldwell spread in the UK.

What will a second coming look like?

Will the “second coming” of the COVID-19 virus look like more “lockdowns,” more remote working, more “track, trace and incubate”?

Will we have to shut down Boroughs instead of Cities, Streets instead of whole Towns, and even individual business offices. We are assured, it may never come to that.

We haveexperienced the first phase of action which was “Protection,” second phase “Job preservation,” the third phase, “to rebuild the economy”.

Of course, the NHS has now more capacity, medics are now better equipped to treat the virus, Britain is stockpiling upon PPE, new field hospitals and ICU’s are in operation, the economy and social activity having adapted to the new normal in the past 4 months to deal with containing the virus spread.

Would it be not as devastating to our physical, psychological, social, and economic health as the first wave, when we were thoroughly unprepared?

Could it be going “over the top” to think of what we have had to go through in the first “homecoming”?

Could we afford a second coming?

These are some of the considerations of governments and the public.

£31.7 billion has been claimed for 9.5 million “furloughed” employees on Government paid leave of absence from work. This is alongside £7.6 billion for 2.7 million self-employed. Meanwhile, more than a million businesses have claimed £33.7 billion in “Bounce Back” loans, and many have made workers redundant but many more have “gone under”, not to Australia.

The furlough scheme prevented major rise in unemployment, but it hoped to be “wound down” from August 20,2020 and completely removed at the end of October 2020 with losses climbing and set to hit almost 10% of UK’s workforce by the end of the year.

Further, the British economy has contracted by 25%with four (4) months. Researchers say.the economy has reverted to the position 18 yearsprevious.

What is the new virus nationalism?
One of the by products of the Coronavirus pandemic is the need for vaccine development.

There appears to be a new nationalism on the horizon. The UK Government is considering restrictions targeting regions within countries, to enforce stringentquarantine for travel to areas, like Catalonia, Aragon, and Navarre, in Spain, until a vaccine is developed.

Although in everybody’s knowledge, Sri Lanka is on the excluded list for UK holiday makers, but Ministers we are told are also looking at the spike in Luxembourg, Belgium, and Croatia.

Besides, the fear is that the wealthy countries are able well in advance to sign deals for vaccines that have yet to be approved and may not even work.

The latest contract already signed by UK is with British Pharmaceutical company, Glaxo SmithKline (GSK) and its partner Sanofi Pasteur in France for 60 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine that they are developing. UK has already a deal for 100 million doses of the Oxford University/Astra Zeneca vaccine and for 90 million doses of two other Company platforms.

We are informed that the Government accepts it could lose money on some if they do not work. The claim by Vaccine researchers in UK is that: “we will be the vaccine supplier to the world”.

The United States’ policy too is to prohibit US companies from supplying their research vaccine elsewhere in the world until its own needs are met first.

We note that there are promising results recently from Moderna Inc, in Cambridge, Mass. USA, which has begun large scale Phase 3 trials and is expecting a breakthrough by Thanksgiving Day. Moderna’sshare price has increased over the few months from $50 to $79.69 today buoyed by US Government support.

The European Union too is working as a bloc to buy vaccines that are not produced in the US, with preference for 400 million doses of the Astra Zeneca developed vaccine.

What can Sri Lanka and other countries now do?

Instead of awaiting for a vaccine for COVID-19, which will be rationed on basis of Vaccine Nationalism, by the wealthy developed national candidates, Sri Lanka and many small nations, like Vietnam, can take adequate precautions to prevent the spread of a second wave of COVID-19 by researching a “Track and Trace” Smart Phone App within our Universities.

Track and Trace App uses Bluetooth technology to log all those who have been in close contact with a positive case, and alert them to take a test or self-isolate for 14 days.

This is one key part of the surveillance programme going forward.

Germany has “Corona Warn App” which has now been installed by around 16 million people but with 83 million Germans in total, experts say more than half the population need to have an “ App” before it is truly effective.

Testing is the only viable way of doing a “Check-In” on Coronavirus, in the absence of a difficult to get vaccine. We have no doubt that this possibility will be pursued by the Health Authorities and the Government of Sri Lanka, without awaiting a “Second Coming”.

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