Our worst fear has been realised with the confirmation that the Delta variant is now among us a time when less than 35 per cent of the population is fully vaccinated.
We have no choice now but to admit that with just 463,504 of the population of 1.4 million being fully vaccinated, we have lost the race to get ahead of this deadly virus.
The news that one of the three cases identified is a minor underscores the point that unlike other earlier variants, Delta is no respecter of age which is why scientists no longer talk about achieving herd immunity with vaccine coverage of about 70 per cent. Delta puts everyone at risk, from babies to the elderly.
The challenge for each of us now is to do whatever is required to protect ourselves at a much higher standard of safety in order to block viral transmission. With its higher level of transmissibility, the Delta variant exploits every weakness in our defences. These include being unvaccinated, badly-worn masks that do not properly cover the nose, poor sanitisation and crowding. People who have got away with ignoring these Covid-19 protocols should not bank on escaping Delta. One only has to look at how difficult it has been for some of the best-resourced countries of the world to counter the spread of this variant. Even the countries pursuing a zero Covid strategy have not succeeded in eliminating every case. These include China which, despite taking extreme measures, continues to record new cases on a daily basis.
While the local cases were confirmed yesterday, the possibility that the Delta variant has been among us for a while cannot be ruled out. Our limited capacity for genomic testing does not allow for extensive investigation and so this variant may well be a factor in keeping the number of new cases at over 200 a day with a steady stream of deaths.
The loss of 35 lives to Covid-19 over the past week alone is a worrying indicator of just how difficult it is to get the better of this deadly virus.
While the current situation is far better than it was during the same period in June and July, the downward momentum has slackened over the past month. With an average of five deaths a day over the past week, which has brought the death toll to 1,416, T&T was far from being in a comfortable place even before the cases of Delta were identified.
At the start of 2021, the number of lives that had been lost to Covid-19 stood at 127, most of which had occurred during the particularly rough post-election period. We entered the New Year thinking that the worst was behind us and that it was safe to start emerging from our hiding places and re-engaging the world. Schools and restaurants began opening, church doors were flung open and T&T revelled in a return to the beach. By April, we discovered our world was still unsafe. Since then, over 1,200 more lives have been lost.
With Delta now added to the mix, we shudder to think what the rest of the year might bring.