FULLY 12 MONTHS AGO, on October 27, 2020, the COVID-19 profile of St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) was the envy of the world. There were five known active cases of coronavirus in all of the country and moreover, there had been no recorded deaths from the virus.
These numbers provided a stunning contrast in a world where COVID-19 was raging out of control. By then, millions of people had already lost their lives. As the virus battered into submission the world’s mightiest countries, their cemeteries and crematoria overflowed with the dead, their hospitals were overwhelmed with the sick and the dying, and in a desperate effort to halt the progress of this novel lethal contagion against which we have no cure, the world’s leaders closed their borders. Indeed, as the virus thundered across the United States, killing 500,000 Americans, Vincentians had every reason to give thanks on Independence Day 2020 where SVG stood seemingly protected from the waves of the coronavirus that were buffeting the rest of the world.
Today, the situation is much different. Instead of five active cases, as at October 20, 2021, we have 1,699 COVID-19 cases. Instead of zero deaths, the virus has now killed 56 people. One year ago, SVG had a grand total of 74 recorded cases. Today that number has rocketed to 4729 and will continue to increase. Seen from the perspective of one year ago, these numbers are simply astonishing. In short, one year ago we were on the outside of the COVID-19 storm. Today, we stand in the midst of the storm.
This was not inevitable. Indeed, it was eminently avoidable, given that this present upsurge took place after the arrival of safe and effective vaccines which, within the space of two months, could literally allow a return to our lives as existed prior to March 2020. This is not hyperbole. It takes six to eight weeks for a person to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. If every eligible person is vaccinated, the threat of COVID-19 diminishes into insignificance.
It is literally that simple. The vaccines have proven to be amazingly effective and they have resurrected the major cities of the world from sepulchres of death to the vibrant, living, and flourishing citadels of human endeavour.
However, for too many Vincentians, the torrent of lies, misinformation, disinformation, and complete scientific ignorance emanating from the anti-vaccine community have destroyed their confidence in the vaccine. Consequently, they have ignored the compelling evidence of the success of the COVID-19 vaccines and become more deeply mired in the lies of pseudo-science and false comfort of religious fanaticism. Far too many Vincentians selfishly want to wait it out to see if the country can work itself out of this crisis without their participation. Also, the advice to the hesitant to “take as much time as you need” is a reckless cop-out, for while they take the time they need, they, their loved ones and everyone else are left vulnerable. All the information they need is already available and accessible.
Of the 56 people killed in SVG by COVID-19, none was vaccinated. Almost 15,000 Vincentians are fully vaccinated from the virus.
None of them has died from COVID-19. Of the over 23,000 people who have received at least one shot of a COVID-19 vaccine, none of them has died from any complication linked to the vaccine. In SVG and elsewhere, the COVID-19 pandemic is a pandemic of the unvaccinated. We simply cannot and should not enter another Independence Day under the scourge of COVID-19. We know what
we need to do.