The 22 Covid-19 deaths recorded yesterday sent ripples of shock throughout the country. The surprise was that people were actually surprised. For, as sure as night follows day, this country was in line for a Delta baptism of fire, given the inevitability of it landing here to a reception hosted by a largely unvaccinated population.
In early August when the Delta variant was first identified in T&T, just about 20 per cent of the population was fully vaccinated. From that moment, it was clear that unless the remaining 80 per cent rushed out and got themselves vaccinated, it would be only a matter of time before Delta’s high and deadly transmissibility reared its head among us.
The scary thing is how much worse this situation could get. One group that clearly sees the danger is Chief Medical Officer Dr Roshan Parasram and his team. Anyone who heard Dr Maryam Abdool-Richards at yesterday’s Covid-19 update would have sensed the emotional weight upon them as they brace for the pandemic’s toughest leg. Theirs is not a relay in which the baton can be passed, but a marathon of unknown distance. Burnt out by three waves of infection, it is hard to imagine from which reservoir these field marshals and their troops will draw the strength for an all-out assault against the enemy.
We will not pretend to understand what is motivating roughly half of the population to reject the vaccine. We thought logic and love would prevail against doubt and suspicion; that the doubtful would be persuaded by the compelling statistics showing that over 90 per cent of fatalities were unvaccinated, and that the power of love would convince adults to take the vaccine to protect themselves, the vulnerable elderly and the children around them.
Covid-19 has brought premature death to so many elderly persons, many of whom have been cheated of the care and comfort that families provide at the end of a life. It was also heart-breaking to learn yesterday that three children are now fighting for their lives in ICU. Our little ones, for the whom the vaccine is not even an option, are sitting ducks in this pandemic.
Faced with the national vulnerability of half the population being unvaccinated, the sense of futility at yesterday’s news conference was palpable.
Whatever the Government’s missteps along the way, at this moment when Delta is upon us, it is hard to see what else can be done if people continue to refuse the vaccine. With almost no public appetite for returning to a lockdown, and the country moving into the THA election followed by Christmas, the infection risk is set to multiply along with the virus.
Our best options now are for the unvaccinated to get the shot today, or if not, to put themselves under isolation for their own good. With the Government admitting that its vaccination programme has stalled, the other option is for the rest of the country to step up and dynamise the situation.
We call on the Opposition, all political parties, institutions, corporations, NGOs, churches and individuals to do whatever they can to energise the push for vaccines.
T&T needs us now.