Time for a new paradigm
I watch with concern what is happening in Europe at the moment. Austria has called for a lockdown until perhaps December 12 and will be the first country in Europe to make the vaccine mandatory from February 1, 2022. In response, Austrian citizens have taken to the streets to protest and shout Widerstand. Nearly 40,000 protesters took to the streets in Brussels over the weekend and in Amsterdam chaos erupted with violence in the streets.
In other European countries (Switzerland, Croatia, Denmark, Italy, etc.), there have been similar protests against vaccine passports, public health restrictions and / or the pressure for compulsory vaccination.
All of this is of great concern to us Maltese, and if the situation continues to deteriorate in Europe the eurozone economies will suffer and this will invariably have a negative impact on the Maltese economy this winter.
In my opinion, the way forward – the solution is simple. I didn’t say easy, I said simple. We need to change the current paradigm.
I notice that most governments, except a few (UK and Sweden), follow the same approach to public health, which is based on flawed logic that ignores recent facts that have shocked many of our hypotheses about the virus:
Vaccines have not (yet) delivered collective immunity;
The vaccines had a material and positive effect in reducing the number of hospitalizations and deaths;
Vaccines have not stopped fully vaccinated people from catching or transmitting the virus, especially with the predominance of the Delta variant;
To date, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) has only issued temporary emergency authorizations for vaccines currently in use.
In fact, the number of COVID-19 infections continued to increase regardless of the number of vaccinations. Take Malta as an example: almost 95% of the population is fully vaccinated and a booster campaign is underway, but the numbers continue to rise. Why?
The reason is that since the Delta variant became the dominant strain, herd immunity through vaccination has become unattainable, and fully vaccinated people now have the same chance of catching or transmitting the virus as people. unvaccinated. Governments must therefore rethink the old paradigm and explain to the people the new and changing reality.
In my opinion, a country that has a vaccination rate close to 95%, like Malta, can afford to tolerate an increase in the number of infections without imposing further public health restrictions, as long as the number of hospitalizations and death remains low. In doing so, the economy and democracy can continue to function normally.
Additionally, governments do not need to experiment with medical apartheid or discriminatory labor policies and / or impose new public health restrictions, and this will protect our economy and ultimately jobs. . In fact, it might actually be a good thing that the number of infections increases as they are (“naturally”), as the vaccine protects people from hospitalization or death, but natural immunity is what keeps people safe. brings us as a country closer to possible collective immunity. . To do this, the government must re-educate the population and recalibrate expectations. By this I mean explaining that the vaccine does not prevent anyone from catching / transmitting the virus, but it significantly reduces the risk for people, especially the elderly or vulnerable, of suffering from severe symptoms and needing to be hospitalized.
Our economy can no longer afford seismic shocks
This is why it no longer makes sense to keep reporting the number of daily infections, imposing apartheid-style vaccination passports, or imposing restrictions such as lockdowns until the number of vaccinations is close to 100%.
I think companies now need to take a stand on this issue since people’s livelihoods depend on it. We need to lobby, educate and explain that the old paradigm of pursuing a zero infection strategy is impossible and that herd immunity will only be achieved with time through natural post-pandemic immunity.
Certainly before vaccination this could not be a credible strategy due to the high price we would have had to pay as a society with the elderly and vulnerable being the hardest hit, but now that we are approaching 95% of the population. population fully vaccinated, a well-engaged recall campaign and the epidemiological situation in transition to an endemic situation, I see no reason for business or democracy in Malta to be more hostage to public health policy.
Like in the UK, we don’t need to make the vaccine mandatory, or call (again) a national public health emergency. In the words of Sajid Javid, who categorically ruled out last weekend from making coronavirus vaccinations mandatory in the UK, “… taking the vaccine should be a positive choice …” rather than one. taxation.
Additionally, we can preserve our post-pandemic approach to public health similar to that of the UK which removed all COVID-19 restrictions in July.
I say all this because our economy can no longer afford seismic shocks; more incitement to fear, which undermines business and customer confidence; and a regression towards more or new public health restrictions.
It is prudent, at least here in Malta, to envision a new paradigm for the sake of our democracy and our economy.
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