Eyewitness: Hope…


…for wider vaccine production

From the beginning, when the COVID-19 pandemic came straight out of Wuhan, in China, scientists and folks with any background in science knew it would be necessary for populations to get vaccinated. This would give them the necessary “herd immunity”, wherein the spread would be halted due to natural or other acquired immunities. Fellas like Trump, who recommended “bleach and ultra-violet light”, were just your regular wackos, who always come out of the woodwork in these matters.

What percentage of the population would ensure herd immunity depends on the context, and a factor that epidemiologists call Ro – pronounced R-nought. It’s also called the “basic reproduction number”, and is the expected number of cases directly generated by one case in a population where all individuals are susceptible to infection. A higher Ro then indicated a faster spread of the virus. While there are other variables – like the protocols we’ve been instructed to follow, like social distancing and wearing masks – the bottom line is that only vaccination will save us from COVID-19 getting out of control.

With the new varieties, which are even more contagious and deadly, the Ro has risen to almost 2, and scientists warn that, presently, 80% of the population must be vaccinated for the country to achieve herd immunity. This means that supplying the vaccines and delivering them to the populace is non-negotiable. And those people who, for whatever reason, are unwilling to be vaccinated are placing the rest of the population at risk. For this reason, as a threat to Public Health, your Eyewitness believes the Government must make vaccination mandatory for everyone.

The biggest constraint up to this point has been the supply of the vaccine. As we saw, even India – the biggest vaccine producer on the planet – can’t keep up with the needed numbers. And this assumes that the vaccine will be effective on the new variants. But the story on production isn’t so simple…India could’ve been producing many more vaccines, but only a couple of companies have been licensed – at a tremendous cost – to produce the vaccines invented for “foreign”.

These companies, like Oxford-AstraZeneca, Pfizer BioNTech and Moderna, which have the patents on the vaccines, are making a killing – pun intended. They’ve tenaciously fought off efforts by the WHO and over 100 countries in crisis to loosen their stance. They cite WTO trade rules!!

But the Biden Administration has just pivoted and said they’d accept a temporary lapse of the patent rules under WTO’s TRIP arrangement, to allow wider production of the vaccines. This is historic!

While your Eyewitness knows that months of horse trading lie ahead, there’s now hope we might get ahead of the COVID-19 curve.
Herd immunity!!

…continues to contain Venezuela

The Biden Administration also pleased your Eyewitness by continuing with the policies of the Trump Administration on Venezuela. During their elections campaign, there were many on the left in the Democratic Party who castigated Trump and the Republicans for refusing to recognise the Maduro Regime – even though that regime was installed through rigged elections! Biden has now demonstrated he would not be deterred by ideological bullyism, but by democratic principles – taking account of ground realities.

The bottom line is that Maduro comes from a tradition that believes leaders can do whatever they want – ironically, including rigging elections – simply because they’re doing it “for the people”. As if, in democratic elections, it’s not “the people” that’s making the decision on “who governs”. And those in Guyana who rail about America’s “meddling” should remember that if it weren’t for them, Maduro would’ve already invaded to seize Essequibo and our oil.

The PNC, of course, will be miffed, since Biden will now have to be consistent in condemning rigging in Guyana!!

…dims for IPL

Your Eyewitness is despondent that the IPL has been suspended. It provided a spot of brightness in the COVID lockdown.

But if their billion-dollar COVID bubble was pierced, imagine the consequences of our laxity!