I believe we are our brother’s keeper. It is how I frame my lookout on life, my religious path, and that perspective deeply shapes my perspective also how government should work.
So when I read about the disparity in vaccine availability around the world it not only concerns me from a health point of view, but also from a moral one. Though the football stadiums are crammed full and college students are packed in line to enter their favorite drinking establishments in the United States, the larger world community is facing tough going in certain areas at combatting the virus and obtaining needed vaccine shots.
“With almost 50,000 deaths a week, the pandemic is far from over — and that’s just the reported deaths,” World Health Organization Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at the World Health Summit in Berlin on Oct. 24.
Many have urged that a more concerted effort be made to distribute vaccines to health partners worldwide so to stem the spread of the virus. Recently the UN Secretary General-General Antonio Guterres pointed out a glaring discrepancy with statistics underscoring the problem. Rich nations have spent 28% of annual economic output on pandemic recovery efforts, while the figure is 2% for the poorest nations.
The Economist this week reported a more stark assessment.
Today, in low-income countries, less than 2% of adults are fully vaccinated, compared with 50% in high-income ones. A new analysis from Airfinity, a life-sciences data firm, spells out the startling implications: if rich countries do not redistribute surplus vaccine this year, between 1m and 2.8m lives could be lost as a result.
What is even more troubling to ponder into our thinking is that with the complete availability of the vaccines in the US there is still a most numbing fact.
The United States continues to have the highest cumulative number of confirmed cases and deaths globally. In early October, the U.S. death toll from covid-19, the disease caused by the virus, surpassed 700,000, despite the widespread availability of vaccines in the country.
We have had too many news reports of obstinate people blocking our forward movement in the nation due to selflessness and neanderthal thinking.
More than 26,000 New York City government employees, including firefighters, police officers, and sanitation workers, flouted the deadline for Mayor Bill de Blasio’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate,” Gothamist reported this weekend.
Labor unions continue to balk at the mandate, notably fire unions that have staged numerous rallies opposing the mandate over the past week. Figures show that while 84% of FDNY employees have abided by the mandate, more than 4,000 of them might not be able to come in next Monday. About 8,300 NYPD employees also remain unvaccinated. The police department held a retirement drive Friday and Saturday for employees who didn’t want to take the vaccines.
I do not understand at any level the delusional thinking of those who spit at science and place others in the community, and the health of the economy itself, into harm’s way. More than 200 million Americans are living examples of the remarkably effective and safe nature of vaccines. Those shots have severely stunted severe illness, kept folks out of hospitals, and SAVED LIVES.
What has been proved in the US to be so effective should be far more available to people in other nations, regardless of their income or station in life. We must lean into the issue of producing more shots, shipping them to targeted locations, ensuring their use, and not allowing anything to block the path towards a better outcome for all.
Rocket science is not required to achieve this mission. This is just old-fashioned willpower that needs to be employed. And the understanding that we are our brother’s keeper.
And so it goes.