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Being infected with COVID-19 virus could lead to serious illness and the possibility of death because of complications arising from infection. The truth, however painful and avoidance it may be for some, is that Guyana is falling behind the curve in effectively managing the virus. The Minister of Health has a serious problem on his hands. The soonest he acknowledges his failure to get ahead of the pandemic is political rather than medical and social the better it will be for his reputation, the safety and health of Guyanese.
Mandating taking the vaccine is no magic bullet or solution to control the pandemic. A mandate will only serve to create more friction between the forced and enforcers. At the most basic, effective management is reliant on accurate information and safe practices. Neither of which the Ministry of Health seems capable of or is concerned about ensuring. People are being asked to observe the COVID-19 guidelines, but it is the government that flouts them the most. It was shocking to see recent pictures of parents in Linden collecting student cash grant distributed by the government. They were packed like sardines when social distancing, i.e., six feet apart, is important to avoid spread.
Vaccines are being distributed and amongst those is one the World Health Organisation (WHO) has not yet approved authorisation for use. The Minister of Health also said Guyana does not have the scientific wherewithal to validate the efficacy of any vaccine. Some countries (e.g., Canada) are requesting non-residents entering to be inoculated with WHO’s approved vaccines. Sputnik V is presently not among them but is one of the vaccines Guyana uses.
How are those who had the Sputnik vaccine deal with entering such countries? Is it possible they would be allowed to have a WHO approved vaccine and is there a stipulated time when another vaccine could be administered? How more confusing and uncertain are these issues to the public that is expected to suspend intellectualism, accept the confusion in messaging, and take the vaccine.
It would be good for all those eligible to have the vaccine take it. The WHO and international health organisations of repute have all stated that vaccination is important for a country to arrive at herd immunity, i.e., at least 70 percent of the population be vaccinated, in order to contain the virus. They also stated the COVID-19 vaccines do not prevent being infected but could minimise the symptoms associated with being infected, allow the infected a better chance of recovering and avoidance of death from complications that arise from infection. Even the vaccinated still have to obey COVID-19 guidelines. With the spread of the more dangerous delta variant, they are being encouraged to wear mask when in crowded spaces.
One of the most dangerous hindrance to effective management of the virus is the Government’s sense of allness. They are thinking about making vaccination mandatory as they simultaneously disobey the guidelines. They also think they can do it all alone and others are unimportant in playing a role from policymaking to influencing participation of others in observing the guidelines and taking the vaccine. Effective management requires putting political hubris aside.