Vaccinate The Earth (Just Not The US, UK, Canada or EU)

Recovery area of a Kabul hospital, photo from USAID

There’s been a lot of focus on Republican hesitancy toward getting vaccinated, and it is all deserved. Republicans are currently the dominant unvaccinated group who have the vaccine available to them. But in order to properly address the issue – in order to reach the levels of vaccination throughout the population to render the country effectively virus-free, the “herd immunity” everyone likes to talk about – other large groups need to be addressed. Those include children, a matter on which I’ve harped for months. But they also include Democrats, and today in particular their vaccine hesitant people are in ascendency.

Today is Earth Day, and the most high-profile celebrity activist in the world is Greta Thunberg. A teenaged girl who refused to go to school and with less science background than the average McDonald’s fry cook, she has been lauded with the Ambassador of Conscience Award by Amnesty International, the Rachel Carson Award, the International Children’s Peace Prize. She’s been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. She was Time Magazine’s Person of the Year in 2019. And she’s aggressively anti-vaccine.

Not for everyone, mind… just for the majority of Western countries. In her view, vaccines should be first distributed to the elderly and most at risk, then shipped to poor countries to immunize them. The technical details of doing this with low-stability vaccines while not using airplanes – another issue against which she fights – is apparently to be left to others. The important thing is that wealthy countries should stop distributing their vaccines and they should stop now.

In her statement to the World Health Organization (where she was invited to speak because of her celebrity), she explained: “It is completely unethical that high-income countries are now vaccinating young and healthy people if that happens at the expense of people in risk groups and on the front lines in low- and middle-income countries.”

This is a terrible idea. It becomes catastrophic when we recognize that efficacy of the vaccines appears to wane over time. The destructive nature of this view can be seen if the virus is compared to a fire.

Fires, like viruses, tend to spread. Their rate of spread will vary depending on factors like the availability of combustible material (or uninfected people) but if one leaves a small fire to itself the usual result is a large fire. The way fires are fought is to eliminate the fire in one area and then move outward from there, often drenching all items within range of the fire to minimize the chance that lingering embers might trigger a reflash. If, instead, one runs from room to room spraying only the most valuable of items, the building – and nearly all of the valuables – will be lost. As one small fire is eliminated, the others will grow; and as another fire is attacked, the area which had previously been cleared will begin to burn again.

The proper method for firefighting has been developed scientifically, through trial and error in settings throughout the world. The proper method for disease eradication has likewise been determined. New Zealand and Australia have been able to drastically reduce the footprint of the virus in their nations; it is time for other countries to follow their lead and eliminate it from their own borders. That will not happen by pretending the virus isn’t especially dangerous, the way the Trumpist branch of the Republican party continues to act, and it will not happen by terming such efforts “vaccine nationalism” and demanding that adults under 50 in western countries be pushed to the back of the line.

Lest it seem like I am picking on Greta Thunberg solely because of her lack of scientific education – or that I am overstating the influence of a foreign child upon the American political system – I direct you to a prominent American voice against vaccine nationalism, a man who co-authored an article for Science Magazine in September of last year about the subject: Ezekiel Emanuel.

Emanuel’s solution differs greatly from that of Thunberg’s. It is better considered, more easily implemented, and remains deeply flawed. It is the Fair Priority Model, and it calls for populations of a country to drive their reproduction rate below 1, then to shift vaccine distribution to other nations. It presents a valuation of vaccines based on issues like relative poverty and demands that concerns such as elderly populations, high comorbidity rates and quantities of health care workers be ignored. Ezekiel is the primary author of this plan, and he is one of a handful of people chosen to be a direct advisor on COVID-19 policy to President Joe Biden.

The good part of this plan is that it does still call for enough vaccinations to have the disease dwindling rather than growing. The bad part is that it abandons entirely the successful history of disease elimination in favor of a constant simmering boil, with flare-ups as vaccine efficacy dies away and with a heightened risk of vaccine-resistant mutations not merely in localized spots but throughout the world. It is an appallingly short-sighted proposal, one which was already widely distributed before the President chose Emanuel to lead his COVID-19 advisory board. And while that board has been dissolved, the members have made clear they continue to be in frequent contact with the President, with Statnews, a left-leaning medical news group, approvingly describing it as “essentially forming a shadow advisory committee outside the auspices of the White House” because, as Emanuel explained, “rules that govern federal advisory committees would have made it difficult for the group to transition into a formal Biden administration task force”.

The Trumpist Republicans need to be pushed on their gross stupidity regarding vaccination, and there are far too many of them and they are given a megaphone both by their preferred news sources and by the Democratic news sources which strive to keep them as the ignorant face of the party. But the voices of people who are prominent and respected within the Democratic party are exerting dangerous pressure against a long-term solution, and these must not be ignored in favor of partisan politics.

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About AlienMotives 1991 Articles
Ex-Navy Reactor Operator turned bookseller. Father of an amazing girl and husband to an amazing wife. Tired of willful political blindness, but never tired of politics. Hopeful for the future.