Eyewitness: Protection…

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…against COVID-19 already?

Doesn’t seem like the Americans learnt much from India in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. Not from the latter’s ARTICULATION of its “Vaccine Maitri”, or Vaccine Friendship strategy, but from the Americans’ subsequent EXPERIENCE with the virus. As has been well ventilated in our letters’ columns recently, during 2020, when America, Britain and Italy were reeling from the devastation, India was doing comparatively well, infection and death-wise.

The Western countries’ health systems became overwhelmed and overrun, as dead bodies were stored in refrigerated containers outside hospitals, waiting for cremation and burial sites to become available. Respirators couldn’t be supplied fast enough, and patients had to be arbitrarily triaged.

Thousands who died in the ubiquitous American “nursing homes” for old folks had to be disposed of, and have never found their way even in the gross (really gross!) national statistics. The US still lead the world in the total number of deaths from COVID-19, with an astounding 584,000 (still more than double India’s) from 33 million infections – fully 10% of their population.

Much of the blame for those figures could be laid at the feet of Donald Trump’s Republican administration – and have been so laid by the Democrats who succeeded him. But it did smack of schadenfreude when India announced it would be shipping out vaccines free of cost to selected countries as a show of solidarity and friendship. And more to the point, India emphasised that the said Western countries had pretty much gamed their supply of vaccines and refused to even sell them to the poorer countries. The horror! The horror! But this time in America!

This kind of generosity had been carefully cultivated by the Western nations – especially vis-a-vis Africa and India. Who was this upstart “hungry belly” India to show them up? Well, now that India has been hit by a variant that spreads faster and is deadlier than the original virus, and India is reeling under its second wave of infections, the Western press are having a feeding frenzy highlighting the Indian disaster. One favourite image that exoticises the situation is of bodies being cremated in all sorts of locales, like parking lots. Well, predominantly vegetarian India doesn’t have the US number of refrigerated trucks that usually store slaughtered animals for shipping. And bodies have to be cremated immediately!!

Anyhow, the Americans have now decided to make their show of bravado – they announced that vaccinated persons don’t have to wear masks in public, and even indoors. The lesson from India to this Eyewitness, that’s being missed, is that it just doesn’t have enough experience with this virus to act as if the virus has been defeated!
It does seem that the Americans are tempting the gods. And we know how the gods respond!

…from missiles

The old nursery rhyme goes, “Sticks and stones may break my bones…”, but from what’s going down between Israel and Palestine, it does seem that even “sticks and stones” – in the form of missiles from the Palestinians – can break the Israelis’ bones. The latest round of violence started when the Israelis proceeded to evict 6 Palestinians from their homes in East Jerusalem – which the Israelis have been trying to make “all Jewish”.

Scuffles with Jews when Palestinians tried to enter one of their holy sites during Ramadan escalated into frustrated Hamas personnel firing missiles from the West Bank into Jewish settlements. Israel retaliated with air strikes. The body count up to now is 115 Palestinians dead versus 8 Israelis. What gives? Are the Palestinian missiles firecrackers?
Hardly. Israeli protection is from a very sophisticated missile defence system called “Iron Dome”, which is able to hone in on incoming missiles and simultaneously fire anti-missiles that just blow them out of the sky.