Covid-19: Your Choice, Your Rights, Your Obligations

 

If we lived under a totalitarian regime, Covid guidelines would be taken by a few bureaucrats in isolation and the population would be forced to follow the rules. If we lived in an anarchy, we would theoretically do whatever we wanted, but, in reality, this type of society benefits the strongest and most powerful with most of the population ending up abused or subservient to those who are mightier. With respect to  Covid, the mighty would have local and foreign health systems to fall upon while the rest of the population left to manage (and die) at the margins.

This article is aimed at those of us who live in a democracy. Democracies aren’t perfect, yet they currently seem to be the best option around. Under a democracy, citizens have rights and obligations. Every few years citizens have the opportunity to decipher the events that have taken place during the ending legislature, combine that with the promises being made by those participating in the electoral race, listen to or ignore the facts, partial facts or outright fabrications about the various parties and candidates and finally cast their vote. The votes are tallied and, at the end, a number of people end up forming a government that will take decisions for the country as a whole during the forthcoming  legislation. In many democracies, voters can even abstain from voting. The cycle repeats.

Covid was a life-impacting event. It became a global phenomenon, catching everyone by surprise very fast. Initially there wasn’t any solution to mitigate the disease. This resulted in economies going into a complete lockdown impacting lifestyles, wallets and liberties.  War-like restrictions on things we took as being god-given entitlements affected our mental and physical well-being  when the aspirations and certainties we took for granted ceased to be. Locked inside, we were constantly bombarded with reports of deaths and interviews with frontline workers tearing up as they explained how health systems were failing. People were essentially under house arrest, only permitted to go out for a limited amount of time and required to wear masks. They were told to stay 2m (6ft) apart. At the pandemic’s peak society placed vulnerable groups behind electronic or physical glass as is depicted in high security prisons.

A number of companies produced vaccines to mitigate Covid in record time. This achievement was based on the following factor:

       The world came together like never before to mitigate this disease;

       Governments sponsored the effort, practically making unlimited funds to those researching a cure;

       The number of people infected with Covid was so huge and the death rate was so high that these companies had an unprecedented number of consensual patients to test their vaccines on. Data that would have taken years to accumulate was taking weeks.

Two years since many of us heard, for the first time, phrases such as Sars-Covid-2, Covid-19 and Coronavirus, some governments are encouraging their citizens to get vaccinated, wear a mask, not huddle up in closed spaces, avoid contact with unvaccinated people and are limiting going back to pre-Covid era behaviours. There are some who, for reasons varying from microchipping concerns, negative impact of vaccines to their well being  and freedom of choice issues, oppose these measures.

Governments are encouraging but not  forcing people to get vaccinated. Certain governments have decided that anyone who refuses to get vaccinated will have certain liberties restricted, will be prevented from working, and would be billed for any covid-related medical assistance. On the topic of masks and maintaining social distance, different countries have adopted a stance from suggesting the behaviour to mandating it.

Photo by Tim Chesney from FreeImages


 You might find this behaviour to be abusive, and here is an explanation of why it isn’t.

In all democratic countries the absolute majority of governments and the people who elected them are in favor of vaccination. The belief of this majority is the following:

  1. Science originating from government agencies is considered the best source of information we have on the topic;
  2. Health agencies base the advice they give on an international peer-reviewed data analysis of data that is publicly available;
  3. Health agencies may alter their advice because as time-progresses, the Covid virus is changing [mutating]. The rate of mutation increases in proportion to the number of unvaccinated people.
  4. Health agencies may also adjust their advice because data is constantly being analysed and as more data comes in, new observations are made. For example two years into the pandemic, data scientists have data on how the virus spread rate varies during the different seasons. As the number of vaccinated persons increases, they can observe how the spread of the pandemic varies between populations with high vaccination rates and those with low rates. Age-related studies contribute to knowledge focusing on this topic.
  5. New mutated viruses can be different from the earlier variants  in one or more of the following:
    1. Resistance to existing medication / detection tests - in a worst case scenario a new variant would be totally resistant to the current medication meaning we technically end up back to where we were at the start of the pandemic;
    2. The infection rate - how many others would an infected person pass the virus to. For example, a variant that can survive for longer periods of time on surfaces increases the infection rate; a variant that can travel a larger distance (for example after a person sneezes) would also push up the infection rate;
    3. The stealth factor. This describes the amount of time a person is infected without showing symptoms.  The larger this time the more likely that person would pass on the virus to others.  The stealth factor contributes to the infection rate;
    4. The severity factor. This describes the health impact when the virus manifests itself. Severe health impacts would mean that critical life saving equipment such as ventilators and ICU beds would be taken up  and would overwhelm the system;
    5. The recovery period - How long does a person require to get back to normal? Sick people are not working and this impacts their quality of life. When multiplied by thousands and millions of persons, this places a burden on the economy of the country;
    6. Long term post-recovery side effects. The term Long-Covid is used to describe a condition in which persons who recover from Covid never return back to the state of health and wellbeing they experienced before being infected. The quality of life of these persons is reduced;
    7. The target demographic. If one particular group of people has a lower overall vaccination rate, a virus mutation could end up targeting them;
    8. The death rate. This describes the number of persons who succumb to the virus;
  6. The way to overcome this pandemic is to:
    1. Get vaccinated - The vaccine will not eliminate your chances of getting infected but will
      1. Reduce the impact it could have on your overall health and allow you to recover more quickly
      2. Reduce the need to have to spend time in ICU;
      3. Avoid the need to require medical attention;
      4. Reduce the chances of you dying because of Covid
      5. Reduce the risk of passing it on to others. This is partially because the virus has less of a chance to get a foothold in your body;
    2. Wear a mask when possible. Wearing a mask protects you from inhaling a virus breathed out by others as well as protecting others from inhaling a virus you breathed out. Different countries have taken on different stances on this topic, but if you are with unvaccinated persons a mask is a good idea;
    3. Avoid crowded (indoor) places. Same reasoning as the mask, the only difference being that the amount of airborne viruses in an enclosed area packed with people would be very high;
  7. Global Vaccination is the only viable and effective long term solution to overcoming the Covid pandemic.  To protect their own citizens, governments are imposing restrictions on foreigners who are not vaccinated;
  8. Citizens who do not want to get vaccinated are in the minority and pose a risk to the majority of the population.

 

Those who disagree are in the minority. As happens in any democracy, they have the right to voice their opinion but, until governments elected democratically decide differently, they need to accept what the majority feel is the better, safer and more efficient way forward.

The youTube video at: https://youtu.be/5H3GOAPqWXA is an animated summary of this article. Share with friends and family.

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