COVID-19 has and continues to be a long, tough, tiring, drawn-out, frustrating and complicated battle. Patience is running low as persons are struggling to pay rent, bills and put food on the table. There seems to be no end in sight and there are no easy solutions. When you think things are under control and the curve has been flattened the disease refuses to go away and keeps finding ways to copy itself, spike and rear its ugly head.
It’s challenging to take a position and stick with it as new data keeps emerging and we are learning new things daily. It is important to take all points of view into consideration in order to make informed decisions. Countries that depend heavily on tourism are being hit hard and clobbered by the coronavirus. A properly organised mass vaccination appointment system seems to be the main key to overcoming this pandemic and returning to life as normal.
Trinidad and Tobago is currently experiencing a deadly wave of the pandemic, and many investigators believe that the Brazilian variant is the driving force behind it.
There is an aggressive variant of the coronavirus called P1 which seems be the cause of the problems. The epidemiological model indicates that P1 is likely to be more transmissible than previous strains.
The P1 variant is likely to be between 1.7 and 2.4 times more transmissible than other lineages of the virus. It is now a known fact that P1 is able to evade 10 per cent to 46 per cent of immunity gained from a previous infection. More surveillance of the infections and of the different strains of the virus is needed in order to get the pandemic fully under control.
Chief Medical Officer Dr Roshan Parasram and Professor of Molecular Genetics and Virology at UWI’s Faculty of Medical Sciences, Christine Carrington, both confirmed that the P1 variant is now the “dominant variant” or strain of Covid-19 in this country. This new variant requires tighter restrictions and well organised mass vaccination drives on a continuous basis.
The Government also needs to pay outstanding grants to people who have all their paperwork in order. This will make life a little easier for those who are struggling to make ends meet.
The fear of contracting Covid-19 has created a rush for vaccination and this can lead to greater spread of the virus. Long queues at several health centres across the country should be a cause of concern. There seems to be utter chaos at some centres. There is lacklustre social distancing and sometimes those who come for vaccination are at risk. There is a rush of people at vaccination centres, eager to arm themselves as the coronavirus spreads its tentacles. This is only making the task of health workers more difficult. In this eagerness to get vaccinated, appropriate behaviour like social distancing is being mostly ignored.
A large number of people could have been given appointments for the jabs for the two holidays recently in Trinidad and Tobago, but this opportunity was wasted for a stricter 10 am to 5 am curfew. The Government may have to go back to the appointment system, instead of allowing first come, first served. They need a more organised and efficient system. As this letter was being written the Minister of Health announced that an alphabetical system will be put in place.
In the meantime while people are waiting for their appointments they must adhere to the basics of washing hands, watching their distance, wearing a mask and avoiding closed, crowded and close-contact settings.