With COVID We’re All In This Together
As the old pop song (and theme park ride) goes, “It’s a small world after all….” This is a lesson COVID and this latest variant, Omicron, is teaching us all over again.
As I sit down to write, we are cowering in Omicron’s shadow and recovering from the previous three waves of the COVID virus that preceded it.
As you already know, Omicron seems to have originated in southern Africa, and it was brought to the world’s attention by scientists in South Africa. And less than two months later, it has spread across the globe and shown infection rates that dwarf all of the earlier variants combined.
The consensus is that while Omicron spreads quickly, it is not as deadly as previous variants. And while vaccines are not foolproof, they generally reduce the severity of the infection.
Small world – big problem
But the more fundamental issue I want to discuss is that we live in an increasingly small world – we’re all in this together.
One of Martin Luther King Jr’s (whose holiday just passed) most famous quotes states: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly.”
Replace “Injustice” with “COVID” and “Justice” with “safety” to get a reasonably accurate picture of our world today.
COVID came to our attention in China in late 2019 as a previously unseen virus. It quickly spread to infect people around the world.
Then over time, the virus mutated to attack afresh. At last count, Omicron is the fourth wave. And I see stories that speculate on other variants ready to appear worldwide. We’ll see if anything comes of that in the weeks and months to come.
What happens anywhere affects people everywhere. We cannot win the fight against world disease unless we attack that disease worldwide.
Vaccinate our World: Pushing the cause
This is the point being made by Vaccinate Our World, and this organization is making a case for ensuring vaccines get delivered worldwide.
Yes, it is essential to get yourself vaccinated so that you don’t make grandma sick. Please make sure you get the vaccine and appropriate boosters. And follow other public health mandates. It remains important.
But the people of southern Africa, India, Central America and elsewhere around the world also have to be vaccinated before we can begin to feel protected ourselves. We’re all in this together.
(Please note: I chose that list of countries/regions entirely at random. This virus doesn’t discriminate. We shouldn’t either.)
Vaccinate Our World has published the G20 Manifesto. This manifesto lists seven tasks that must be done to conquer COVID – morally and biologically.
The seven tasks are:
- Support patent waivers on COVID-19 vaccines
- Increase access to genomic sequencing technology
- Raise $100 billion
- Commit to global cooperation
- Mandate the sharing of all global health-related information and data
- Expand the mandate of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria
- Draft a new Global Public Health Convention
The website is set up to gather support and push for action. They have even written a tweet to help spread the word:
If the immorality of vaccine rationing doesn’t bother you, the grave danger that it poses to the world should. Join us in urging world leaders to vow to #VaccinateOurWorld
Seven tasks for seven billion people (and counting)
1. Support patent waivers on COVID-19 vaccines
If we are going to get out from under the menace of COVID, we need to get the vaccine distributed as widely as possible. For the sake of every single one of us, each of us needs to be vaccinated – as quickly as possible. As the website points out, these vaccines were developed using governmental support and funding worldwide. They belong to all of us.
2. Increase access to genomic sequencing technology
How can we track and defeat the virus unless everyone has the tools that some countries now take for granted? We need to be on top of our game – everywhere. Otherwise, our understanding of the Greek alphabet will grow even further.
3. Raise $100 billion
Because this is a worldwide pandemic, we need to pool our resources and get the job done. Plain and simple. And if you need an economic incentive, think about the economic loss we all are suffering in this COVID-dominated world. Whatever we can do to turn COVID from a pandemic into an endemic will benefit us all.
4. Commit to global cooperation
This fits the pattern of everything else. COVID does not care where you are from. Neither should we. We will only succeed when we all work together.
5. Mandate the sharing of all global health-related information and data
Knowledge is power. The power to beat the virus. Scientists from around the world have worked together to understand the virus and figure out how to fight it. This has only worked because we worked together.
6. Expand the mandate of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria
The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria has already made tremendous strides around the world fighting these diseases. They have developed protocols and strategies that we can use to fight against COVID. Let’s use the tools we already have. It only makes sense.
7. Draft a new Global Public Health Convention
The experts have spoken out many times, reminding us that this will not be the last time we encounter a virus that attacks the world. In 2003 we watched SARS sweep through and destroyed lives and economies worldwide. Then we forgot all those things we learned that time around. Go back a little further, and you can read about the Spanish Flu of 1918. As Winston Churchill wrote, “Those that fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” I just hope we have learned our lesson – this time. Please. Let’s learn our lessons and do what we can to prepare ourselves for the next one now.
Join in the story
We have been dealing with COVID for two years now. But our struggle helps us to understand that good quality public health is an issue that affects all of us. It needs a global solution. And isn’t the search for global solutions what the SDGs are all about?
Tell me what you think in the comments below. And if you like what I have to say, share it with others.
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