Are we taking the easy way out?

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According to the Chief Medical Officer in a recent news report, borders are likely to stay closed for a longer period. Nice, really nice!

I respect the Prime Minister’s cautious approach to this pandemic, but many citizens have not seen loved ones in over a year. I know of several individuals here who have not seen their child or children, children who have not seen mothers and other close relatives. This is not a nice situation.

PM Rowley, please note that while you and the Attorney General have your children with you, many of your citizens don’t. And many don’t have other close family members with them. Please consider this before making a decision on borders.

Not to mention, those in the hotel industry who are out of work. They have been closed for so long now, why not just ensure safety protocols at the airports are in place, ensure they are being observed, and open the borders?

The Government has to be realistic regarding the stemming of Covid-19. While Pfizer and Moderna have developed vaccines, they may not be as effective as they need to be, especially with a new strain of the virus. Effective vaccines usually take years to develop. According to a 2020 businessinsider.com article, ‘there is still no guarantee a working vaccine will ever be developed for Covid-19’. In fact, it cites several instances of vaccines being developed after years upon years of research.

‘The eradication of smallpox through a vaccine is seen as one of the biggest achievements in public health history-but it took several centuries to get there… In 1796, Edward Jenner in the UK created the first successful smallpox vaccine, but it wasn’t until the 1950s that vaccine treatments began to effectively eradicate the disease in some parts of the world.

‘….In 1918, researchers working for the Rockefeller Institute developed what they thought was the first successful yellow fever vaccination; but in 1926, Max Theiler proved otherwise and the faulty vaccine ceased production.

‘Over a decade later, in 1937, Theiler created the first safe and effective yellow fever vaccination, which has since become the universal standard.

‘Research to understand polio was gradual for the first few decades of the 20th century. In 1935, a vaccination was attempted, first on monkeys and then on children in California. Though this vaccine yielded poor results, two more decades of research paved the way for the development of vaccines by Jonas Salk in 1953, and Albert Sabin in 1956.

‘After a trial of more than 1.6 million children, Salk’s vaccine was adopted in the US by 1955.’

It therefore took decades before effective vaccines could be developed; so it is unrealistic to keep the borders closed indefinitely. The article also noted that no effective vaccines has ever been found for the bubonic plague.

Moreover, even with the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, people are still advised to continue to practise mask wearing and social distancing.

Some countries, upon opening borders, have been observing strict safety protocols and carefully following up with new arrivals. Just put in the work necessary to keep the country safe when borders open-or is the Government taking the easy way out?

There are ways to safeguard the population, even with open borders. A 2020 Foreignpolicy. com article states, ‘Travellers could be required to be tested immediately before departing or on arrival, as some countries such as Iceland are already doing at airports.

‘Visitors could also be required to download contact tracing apps in order to track their movements inside the country for the purposes of identifying and stopping new outbreaks, as China requires…’

So, just put the proper protocols in place!

Akilah Holder