By Sir Ronald Sanders
(The writer is Antigua and Barbuda’s Ambassador to the United States and the Organization of American States. He is also a Senior Fellow at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies at the University of London and Massey College in the University of Toronto. The views expressed are entirely his own)
The question has to be asked. Are some people in Caribbean countries becoming the architects of their own and the region’s destruction?
There is clearly an organised anti-vaccination campaign throughout the region. Who is behind the campaign is unclear, but what is evident is that opposition political parties and criminal elements in Caribbean societies are taking advantage of the anti-COVID-19 vaccination sentiment for their own narrow purposes.
So, while great strides had been made in countries such as Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados and Guyana to suppress the coronavirus and curb its spread through a vigorous inoculation programme against the pandemic, that march is now being halted.
The process, that was taking many Caribbean countries to ‘herd’ or ‘community’ immunity, is now being derailed. This means that the countries, particularly tourism dependent ones, that were heading toward opening their borders and recovering their economies with the obvious attendant benefits for their populations, will now be setback, if not gravely reversed.
The people of Caribbean countries where this situation takes hold will have no one to blame but themselves. Vaccines now exist, and are available, for most countries to inoculate 70 per cent of their adult population. The provision by the government of the United States of Pfizer vaccines, suitable for children, to six CARICOM countries has enhanced their capacity to immunize their people against the lethal coronavirus. The six countries that are recipients of Pfizer doses so far are: Antigua and Barbuda (17,500); Bahamas (397,000); Barbados (70,200); St Kitts-Nevis (11,700); St Vincent and the Grenadines (35,100) and Trinidad and Tobago (305,370). Other Caribbean countries will also be beneficiaries as soon as they settle requirements for storing and distributing the vaccines safely.
The US donation fortifies supplies of vaccines that have been delivered through the COVAX facility, administered by the World Health and Pan American Health Organisations, as well as gifts from India, Russia and China to several countries.
Caribbean countries, principally Antigua and Barbuda and Barbados, enjoyed great success in the early stage of the inoculation programme. But this initial enthusiasm by people who recognised the value of being immunised from a deadly disease, concealed the anti-vaccination movement that had already taken hold.
Oddly, the success of many Caribbean governments and health authorities in suppressing the coronavirus and curbing its spread, also contributed to the propaganda that the virus would not kill, and that greater risk exists from inoculation. The anti-vaxxers seized upon the containment of the disease as some sort of warped evidence that it was better to contract it than to prevent it.
Consequently, there has been a recent resurgence of COVID-19 infections throughout the Caribbean. It is so bad in Martinique, a French island neighbouring St Lucia and Dominica, that the authorities have locked down the country again and asked all tourists to leave. While Martinique can afford this drastic step because it is politically and administratively a part of France which gives it budgetary support, should CARICOM countries take similar action, they would immediately suffer even further economic decline. This time, economic recovery, and a return to any semblance of normal life, would be extremely prolonged with long-term unemployment and severely reduced social welfare programmes. Many economies would simply collapse.
Additionally, the strain on health systems, that are only now being eased from COVID-19 cases, would intensify beyond their capacity to cope. Further, other non-communicable diseases, such as diabetes, hypertension, kidney failure and cancer, would take many lives as resources are diverted again to persons infected by the coronavirus.
Anyone who doubts these real possibilities should check the situation in parts of the US where medical resources are much greater than any CARICOM country. For example, data from the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control shows that hospital occupancy in Horry County is at 93.3%. The report reveals that 94 out of 98 beds in intensive care units are occupied, and 44 of them are COVID-19 patients. There are also 34 patients that are currently on ventilators, and 21 of them are COVID-19 sufferers.
According to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), COVID-19 cases are rising in nearly 90 percent of jurisdictions in the US, with outbreaks in areas with low vaccination rates.
Politics played a huge part in the anti-vaccination campaign in the US, started by former President Donald Trump. It was adopted by right-wing religious and political groups who have exposed their own congregations and supporters to illness and death by encouraging gatherings of unmasked persons at which they rail against vaccinations.
Political parties in some CARICOM countries have taken a page from the Trump playbook. They have jumped on the anti-vaccine sentiment in the expectation that protests and marches against inoculation would galvanize a mass movement to topple governments. They have gone as far as to encourage violations of the law and confrontations with Police. In St Vincent, this emboldening of lawlessness resulted in a supporter of an opposition political party, hurling a stone at the head of 75-year-old Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves that wounded him but could have killed him.
Political parties that irresponsibly align themselves with the anti-vaccination campaign, particularly to violate the law and confront Police carrying out their role to protect the wider citizenry, are playing with fire. Not only are they exposing people to disease and death, they are also risking killing economies which, even if their political actions help to topple governments, will leave them with countries so ruined that the majority of their populations will never forgive them.
COVID-19 remains a threat to human life as great as atrocities resulting from terrorism or war. The fact that unlike leprosy, the disease is not obvious until it has ravaged its victims, only hides its lethal effects.
All leaders of Caribbean societies, including politicians who want power, should put the well being of their peoples and their countries first.
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The comment button isn’t there so i am using this respond / reply space.
There are no fools like old fools, and Gaston Browne is fooling a heap of you sheep. However he only fools idiots that cannot think for themselves and have very little value for freedom. this virus was made in a laboratory by man or should I say demon. You fools that agree with this vaccine are a threat to any and all freedoms on this planet wake the F**k up !Or get off the planet.
That is exactly what world dictator traitor tyrant liar thief HT Gaston Browne and his cesspool gang is doing with our nation and our people.
Where are the murderers who kidnapped and abducted Nigel Christian?
Where are the people who kidnapped, abducted beat and human trafficked HT Mehul Choksi?
They are all walking free. Govt members and Port people all involved.
Why mix lemons with sugar apples?
The matters of abduction, kidnapping, beating, murder etc., are all very important subject matters to be sure. They need a post of their own, and the two or more victims of those types of crime can be discussed together.
This is a post that is about the pros and perceived cons of vaccinations. Yes, I am vaccinated but that does not prevent me from seeing the point of view of those who are either, afraid of, suspicious or in any way against being vaccinated against Covid-19.
This post should deal with how information is being disseminated so that the flaws within our perceptions are minimised or eradicated completely.
Here is what I believe. Being vaccinated innoculates me from becoming extremely I’ll and/or hospitalization should I be infected. It allows by body’s immune system a faster recognition time to respond and build antibodies to the virus, thereby rendering me less susceptible to having a heavy viral load. As long as I keep my body’s immune system at its highest level by making sure I am eating right, I am exercising, I am getting maximum amounts of Vitamin D, daily, I have more than just a fighting chance of survival.
I research medical journals, I keep up to date on what the protocols are, meaning, I wear a mask in public, social distance if I have to be in a crowded place, I avoid crowds as much as is possible, I sanitize my hands regularly, particularly after touching any surfaces. All these things help to keep us safe.
I beg of you, you do not have to sacrifice your beliefs but avail yourself of the knowledge that is available. Just as you would not go to a lawyer if your shoe heal is worn down and needs replacing, you would go to a shoemaker, then do the same for your health’s sake and that of the nation of which you claim to be a ‘citizen’. I too, am a citizen of Antigua and Barbuda, not a national, but a citizen who has so far given 45 years of my 64 years of my life to this country. I love Antigua and Barbuda. I choose to stay here, therefore I am honorbound and duty-bound to protect her.
you obviously did not read the article, and confirming what most people believe that the agitation/picket/march has absolutely nothing to do with public health…sadddddd.
U can say wah u want covid is not real and we nah tek no vaccine
Leaders of Caribbean Nations are the architects of the people’s destruction/demise. *****
I think that is the proper title for this bogus oped. We know history. People of this generation are refusing to play into a globalist agenda that wishes to completely dominate and obliterate humans and the human spirit. The fear tactics and psychological operations are not working as effectively as they had planned. No government has been doing “whats best for its people”. They all do whats best for their own interests as members of an elite class. The people are not fooled. The people are shifting from citizens to sovereign beings. The people cannot and do not respect governments who leave their people behind constantly but expect them suddenly follow when a virus that has 98% recovery rate makes an debut appearance out of communist China. The people have been and are being lied to. The people do not wish to participate in this wicked experiment and would rather Nature (NTR, God, Jah, Jehova, Allah…) take control. The people of God will survive with or without these satanic serums. You leaders have never cared about our survival
anyway unless it SERVES YOU.
This a real clown sound like Gaston gave him that speech to say
We are living in a lawless generation as the bible says everyone is wise in his own eyes . MY opinion is the fastest growing school. People are afraid to think so they jump on the easiest band wagon fb as if it is gospel. The bible say when you see these things look up for your redemption draweth neigh.
I have heard about Sir Ron. I have heard that he is very bright. I know that our fallen National Hero had a very high opinion of him. Now, I see why with my own two (2) eyes.
Therefore, I hereby recommend Sir Ronald Sanders for the following two (2) honors, with immediate effect :
1) National Hero of Antigua and Barbuda.
2) The High Honor of: ‘Order of the Caribbean’.
I recommend that Prime Minister Gaston Brown take action on my recommendations immediately, or as soon as possible (ASAP).
By: ROY R. JACKSON, PH. D (FJU), B. SC. (UWI), ICAEC
Auditor ,/Accountant & Social Scientist
WADAD1 yes the article might be well written but is that your only take away from it? SIR RONALD SANDERS in all of these articles he has written has only shown himself to be a more educated but bigger apologist and propagandist for the government than FROM THE SIDELINE, ERIC (THE RED), PETE, JUST SAYING, PHILLIP G, RUPERT MANN, CARSON B, FREDERICK LAMPTON, BETTY’S HOPE and TENMAN. If you are discerning, you will notice that every time there is an issue where the public is outraged against the government (such as the recent use of excessive force on peaceful protestors), you get the immediate appearance of Sir Ronald Sanders with his intellectually misguided and dishonest articles to justify the status quo. Sir Ronald your usually well timed propaganda will not work. What evidence do you have that opposition in the Caribbean and in particular Antigua to government’s vaccine policies is motivated by Opposition Parties? In the case of Antigua and Barbuda, the UPP has no link whatsoever with the Freedom Fighters who are at the forefront opposing the government’s vaccine policies. Gaston Browne has voiced his ridiculous notion that the UPP is behind the Freedom Fighters and now you in your article is trying to cloak Gaston’s ridiculous notion in some kind of intellectualism. All I can say is that you are the highest paid apologist and propagandist for the government than those aliases (that I mentioned before) who operate on this medium. Your propaganda will not work.
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