Covid - The Gift of Hope
The UK, US and Germany just announced plans to begin vaccinating people as early as mid- December to January 2021. Today, the numbers continue to rise in a combined second and third wave. Thousands continue to be infected and are still dying from Covid-19. That is our current reality. However, with these headlines, we can feel an almost discernible sigh of hope breathed out across the world.
Pfizer (using its new (mRNA) delivery technology) and BioNTech are seeking to secure emergency US and European authorisation for their version of the vaccine as early as next month. Latest trial results demonstrated a 95% success rate with no obvious or serious side effects beyond a rather nasty headache and fatigue. Duly noted, in the fine print, that a “double-dose” may be needed for the vaccine to be properly effective. Double whammy for this virus.
Moderna is following quickly in the vaccine race. It released its own preliminary data last week with a 94.5% effectiveness rate. That gives us now three immediate top contenders in the pandemic race with another 6 continuing their own testing including; AstraZeneca, Novavax, Janseen Pharmaceuticals, Valneva, Sinovac and Sanofi.
This is good news as we head into a tough winter. A uplifting holiday gift of cheer to an exhausted world. We mourn loved one’s lost and those we are still losing even as we consider the prospect of a hopeful future ahead with these vaccines. The markets have reacted to this news with rocketing numbers and a flurry of opinionated financial podcasts. They scream at us to throw more money in the pit. Investing is the new pandemic hobby along with baking bread. Both rise and, fall. Behind the scenes bankruptcies are rising and jobs continue to fall by the wayside. We don’t have a vaccine for this.
Under a pandemic emergency directive, the UK may give regulatory approval to Pfizer-BioNTech’s Covid-19 vaccine by the end of this week. It will take longer for the US to follow as the country continues to be incapacitated by a stalled government transition. Ahead are still several weeks of political “limbo” and chaos prior to a 2021 inauguration.
Which begs the next questions; how will governments determine who, when and how people get vaccinated? How much will it cost and, who will pay? One dose or two? Every 6 months, a year? And finally, who will become rich off new “side-kick” products and services based on the vaccine? Scam certificates to travel, “instant” test results for bucko bucks, fake vaccines. “Etc. etc.”. Echoes of an old Broadway musical.
If nothing else, the pandemic has ripped off every social and legal Band-Aid we have slapped on all of our societies for the past 3 generations. Shown us the infected wounds festering beneath miss-managed social programs, divided politics, environmental destruction and consumerist greed.
We have, as a world, literally paid for this with our lives. And, will continue to do so if we revert to the previous “normal”. Humanity has an historical tendency of short-term memory. Bad times are swept under the carpet and history gets re-written and embellished with rainbows and unicorns. Transparency comes clouded with dollar signs.
Many tout this event as “unprecedented” in our history. Not true. Over centuries, we have been ravaged by cholera, small-pox, bubonic plague and various forms of influenza. Humans are still here. Like the cockroach, we are prone to survival as a species.
The question from the pandemic is not one of survival. We will survive Covid-19. The real question is; “Now what”? Are we reverting to “normal” or, as a world and global society, finally learning from our mistakes?
We watch the stock market in fascination. The economy rises and falls. Governments and administrations scream, then fade from memory. The Who sings out “meet the new boss same as the old boss”. Republicans, Democrats, Tory, Labour, CDU, SPD, Socialists, Communist etc. The Parties and “bosses” are as redundant as the temporary salvations offered. Gen Z, who bears the burden of all our mistakes, has little faith in the old ways or past“normal”. They are right. The pandemic has pushed the slow, chugging steam train of an already broken normal society off the rusted tracks. We need to board a bullet train now.
Recent scientific studies indicate that we no longer have time to revert to “normal”. We gave away that luxury several bosses ago. Our personal worlds may be current sites of Convenience sponsored by Amazon, but we can no longer afford for the planet to be delivered and sold to the highest bidder. It’s the only one we have and, relocating to Mars is still a pipe dream. Convenience comes with a scarring price-tag.
A legitimate vaccine may be “just around the corner of our eye” and celebrations are certainly due. Even as we celebrate, let us not be blind to the past effects of “normal”. Applause is due for the unprecedented cooperative efforts of epidemiologists, scientists and doctors around the world who worked so hard and fast to find us this vaccine. It is due for the exhaustive care and support provided by “essential workers” in hospitals, care homes, shops and in the streets. Due for the teachers overcoming their fears to keep propping up the education wagon. Due for those who showed courage over fear and reached out across the divides to help. All cause for claps.
Unless. Unless, we revert to “normal”. Degenerate back to the broken, old school methodologies, parameters and the deceptive comfort of nostalgia. The chaos that has been the hallmark of current administrations struggling to manage a global pandemic, has offered us one thing. Clarity. They have left no lingering doubts on what and where the problems of countries lie. Like Pandora’s Box, they have opened the world to a virus of hate and anger that spread out on the backs of exhausted and marginalised populations. The tinkly music is being played and Jack, draped in robes of tattered justice, has popped out of his box.
Justice has been blind too long now. Her quality of neutrality lost. People are tired of holding generational begging bowls for simple basics needs of food, shelter, living wages and health. Generations of people who have worked hard “in the normal system” only to find the systems betrayed them when they were most vulnerable. Government services that have no “service”. People are exhausted by, “normal”.
Winter will wan, spring will come. A vaccine will be available for Covid-19. We will go on to travel again. Have holidays with family again. Do “normal” things again. We will survive, again. As humans we are a stubborn species. A virus of our own creation.
As countries and as a connected world, Covid has given us a gift. It came with a terrible price. It brought us to our knees in tears and prayers. We lost those we loved. We lost our jobs and, our world. The price has been paid. Now, we must unwrap and accept the gift of it.
2021 is around the corner. It is offering us a new beginning. A fresh start. A gift. Let’s not waste it or our future in the nightmare of “normal”. This is our chance as countries and the world to be better than we were. To be one world together in a mutual, global future. Are we brave enough to accept the gift? Brave enough walk away from “normal”?
As always, this author leaves you to ponder and choose. This time is different. Take a moment to consider. Your choices will form the future of our world. A world that should be better than, “normal”. What If- we make a new world?