Yesterday’s announcement by US President Joseph Biden outlining details of his administration’s vaccine allocation programme is the good news that we so badly need at this time.
In about three weeks, Trinidad and Tobago should be receiving a donation of vaccines from the US government that will substantially boost supplies being purchased through the African Medical Supplies platform and the government of China.
This is the breakthrough that we need to get an upper hand on Covid-19 which continues to rage through our ranks, decimating lives, destroying livelihoods and destabilising every aspect of national life.
While we note the bureaucratic and regulatory matters to be dealt with in clearing the vaccine for export, we hope every effort will be made to expedite the shipment.
Yesterday’s Ministry of Health report of another 14 deaths and 548 cases has added to the state of national gloom. Almost three weeks after the imposition of a state of emergency we are yet to achieve anything close to the breakthrough we had been hoping for.
In the face of this, our one hope now lies in the vaccines.
The Government’s strategy should turn sharply towards targeted measures to cut transmission while persuading the public that vaccine deliverance is at hand if they would only hold on tight and stay out of Covid-19’s way for a few more days.
The success of the two days of daytime curfew should prove to the Government that the public is willing to do a lot more than it has been asking of it. Given clear instructions which left little room for doubt, the public complied without protest.
Now that we are assured of a substantial supply of vaccines, the Covid-19 management team should strategise on how the curfew instrument could be more effectively and imaginatively used to achieve the desired effect. It could start by being open to the idea of varying the hours from the static 9 p.m. - 5 a.m. in a curfew timetable that uses a combination of lengthier curfew hours and curfew days.
It is true that there is a high degree of Covid-19 fatigue among the population, but the prospect of the imminent arrival of vaccines will give the public reason to redouble their efforts, if the message is effectively conveyed.
For over a year, people have been swimming in an ocean of uncertainty. The message they need to hear now is that a safe landing is just within their reach if they just summoned their last reserves of energy to stay safe and stay alive until the vaccine gets into their arms. We can do this.
At this point, we should not allow ourselves to be distracted by the penchant of idle minds with nothing better to do than fuel rumours. It is an absolute disgrace that the leader of a business organisation could confidently go on national television and spread a rumour about illegal vaccines being brought into the country for use by a private medical facility. We therefore commend the police for their swift investigation of the unsubstantiated claim by Clint Arjoon, head of the Fyzabad Chamber of Industry and Commerce.