Global effort needed for a COVID solution

BRIAN HODDER @Saltwirenetwork



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As we begin a new year, people across the country are experiencing a COVID-19 surge beyond any that we have been through previously. With the advent of the Omicron variant, we have significant community outbreaks, leading to record-setting case numbers and a return to restrictions which had largely passed in the fall. A few weeks ago, we had been planning for a “normal” Christmas season and had plans upended again by COVID-19, leading to a holiday season that was more restrictive, in many ways, than in 2020. This is happening despite a year in which the vast majority of our population was doubly vaccinated against this virus and it appeared our healthcare system had weathered the worst of the storm. Like most of you, I am feeling tired of the constant presence of this virus looming over our heads and it would be quite easy to get discouraged by how things are going. However, I remain hopeful as I look forward to this year, not so much by what is happening with the virus but with how people have responded — and continue to respond — to the challenges placed before us. We have learned many hard lessons and it’s my hope we can take what we have learned and spread these lessons across the globe in 2022, leading to a more effective strategy of dealing with this virus. We didn’t like it but our citizens followed the advice of Public Health experts and sacrificed some of our freedoms in order to protect the most vulnerable and our precarious health-care system. When vaccines became available, the vast majority of our citizens stepped forward to receive their jabs and waited their turn while those more at risk were first in line. This sense of community has led to one of the highest vaccination rates in Canada and among the highest in the world. As we grapple with Omicron, I am hopeful this accomplishment will help us deal with this wave and lessen the impact it may have had on our population. We have also learned during the past year that this virus is persistent and will not be going away just because of a vaccine. As long as it remains circulating through the human population in any part of the world, it will find ways to mutate and recirculate across the globe; hence, the Delta and now the Omicron variant. The vaccines will provide protection but to be most effective, almost all the population needs to be inoculated, like here in Atlantic Canada. We need to learn from our experience and work as a global community to vaccinate populations in all parts of the world, especially areas that lack the wealth to purchase the vaccines our governments have made available to us free of charge. Truly this is one time in world history in which we are all in this together and it will take the efforts of the entire world to get past this pandemic. I have heard (some) health leaders note that COVID-19 doesn’t recognize borders. Holidays and other celebrations, as well as borders between countries, are human creations which this virus does not respect. The only human creation which seems to have an impact is the vaccine but it may find a way around this vaccine if we don’t ensure it reaches everyone in the world. In 2022, it’s my hope the world community heeds this lesson and makes a concerted effort in this regard. We have the tools to do this; it remains to be seen if we have the willingness and co-operative spirit to use the tools we have been given. Brian Hodder works in the field of mental health and addictions. He can be reached at bdhodder@