Half-way to vaccination – Is that the best we can do?

OpEd by Neera Kuckreja Sohoni

On July 4 this year, Associated Press heralded the end of a bleak Covid era with the excited heading ‘A Summer of Freedom: Vaccine gives new meaning to July 4th’, and went on to say, “President Joe Biden wants to imbue Independence Day with new meaning this year by encouraging nationwide celebrations to mark the country’s effective return to normalcy” and “the resumption of pre-pandemic life”.

Alas, the oracle spoke too soon and incorrectly.

Even before July ended, guided by CDC and claiming to be based strictly on “science”, the Biden administration announced that Vax or no Vax, Max i.e. Masking is recommended for all in crowded closed settings and also elsewhere in areas where Delta variant is more virulent.

After 16 months of the coronavirus pandemic-caused destruction of our economy and life as we knew it, with more than 600,000 lives lost, the new administration was all set to celebrate its unprecedented progress in vaccinating the people. Unfortunately, it hit a barrier after reaching the 50 percent mark. Unable to convince the remaining 50 percent largely on account of its own confused and confusing messaging to take the vaccine shot, or at the least vaccinate another 30 percent in order to reach the comfort zone of herd immunity, the administration’s confidence is beginning to totter.

Adding fuel to fire was the arrival of the Delta variant from India – less lethal but with a far greater propensity to infect than the less agile previous variants.

Pressed to once again resort to extreme measures of universal masking and other stringent steps in the offing, the Biden regime is now saddled with the ugly prospect of returning Americans to ‘abnormalcy’.

The earlier promise made and the rosy choice offered by the Biden regime between getting vaccinated or remaining masked and socially isolated has unfortunately been withdrawn. Now, regardless of vaccination, CDC tells us that one can be infected or infect others even after being vaccinated, and hence masking is now back in place, along with the likelihood hovering nearby of other stringent precautions being revived.

While the dreaded total shutdown has not been openly discussed, one can be sure it is on the table.

Our children have some particularly horror scenarios staring them in the face. In two weeks or less, as schools begin to reopen, children of all ages along with the school service and teaching staff will all be asked to resume safe practices including handwashing, masking, social distancing, ventilation, and for all those above 12 years of age – the requirement that they either show proof of vaccination or agree to being tested weekly for Covid.

Parents unable to have their children comply with the norms can opt for remote learning with no guarantee that qualitative learning will actually occur. School districts in some cases have already announced their intent to contract the remote teaching work to outside entities. The criteria and choice of who will remotely carry the torch of learning are not yet known. No wonder, anxious parents are readying themselves and their children for another year of indifferent learning and harmful mental health outcomes caused by dependence exclusively on digital instruction and interface through social media.

In an ideal world, we would expect better predictions from our world-renowned public health agencies, more altruistic and child-centered behavior from teachers, greater cooperation from parents and citizenry to complete the vaccination normative coverage requirement to enable all of us as a society and country to arrive at a safe, comfort level – such that will enable the virus to stay cocooned in its silo. But no, politics always trumps common sense in affluent societies where liberty and herd mentality and partisan clashes carry the day, not what best serves the interest of the whole.

Biden and Harris unwittingly poisoned the vaccination well waters early when both dismissed the accelerated production and reliability of vaccines as Trump’s nonsensical lies and voodoo science. Even after profiting from being vaccinated, they continued to insist on draconian societal and economic shutdowns and stringent personal behaviors such as masking, elbow bumping, six feet distancing and minimal social intercourse. They readily divided people along party affiliation, dismissing Trump supporters as disruptors and naysayers of science and truth, and their own supporters as holy men and women of science.

If only they had embraced all of us as their common charge, they could have walked us with much less resistance through the portals of scientific understanding and behavior.

In contrast, what we have is a nation hopelessly divided against its own good, and a leadership and party in power who care little for the wellbeing of all, so long as they have the command of all four centers of power i.e., the congress, the white house, administrative agencies, and the print, visual and social media, with all four performing faithfully as drummers to their politics.

By failing to unite to beat the virus in its latest avatar we will have lost not only to the virus but also to our self-image as a thriving, functioning polity and democracy.

The writer regularly contributes commentative articles to The South Asian Times.

Images courtesy of (Image courtesy Medivizor) and pROVIDED

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