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Father Shay Cullen is an Irish Columban missionary who has worked in the Philippines since 1969. In 1974, he founded the Preda Foundation, a charitable organization dedicated to protecting the rights of women and children and campaigning for freedom from sex slavery and human trafficking.

A new year of hope for freedom from pandemic

A new year of hope for freedom from pandemic

A doctor administers a dose of Pfizer-BioNtech Covid-19 vaccine to an elderly woman on Jan. 4 at the Antonin Balmes gerontology center in Montpellier, France. (Photo: Pacal Guyot/AFP)

Published: January 05, 2021 10:27 AM GMT
This novel coronavirus seems to have just one mission: to infect and kill as many people as it can

The new year is upon us. It brings a great and vibrant hope that with the arrival of vaccines, the deadly killer Covid-19 might be defeated in another year if political leaders really lead and act with moral conscience and competence.

A vaccine will not eliminate the virus. It will still be there, but we can be protected from it. Certainly, the economy has to keep rolling on, and total lockdowns are not going to be applied anytime soon, but infections and deaths are increasing at a rapid pace.

It is indeed good riddance to traumatic 2020 when nearly 2 million people were killed by Covid-19. Who doesn’t know that? Well, many hundreds of thousands around the world appear not to know it or believe it. In developed Western nations, many don’t seem to know or acknowledge that humanity is under attack by a deadly unseen enemy that could kill them within a few weeks of getting infected.

These people live their daily lives and protest and demonstrate at the government restrictions on social distancing, wearing masks and hand washing frequently. To them, the virus is fake news or at least is not real to them. Perhaps they don’t read, listen or watch the news.

They ignore warnings and go partying and socially mixing, and seem ignorant about the threat to life that the virus poses. It is only when they have the painful, debilitating sickness do they ask themselves, “How did I get this?”

These are the people who do not realize that they are a danger to others. They may be pre-symptomatic or asymptomatic, carrying the virus but yet not showing flu-like symptoms. Lucky for them but not for their friends and neighbors whom they could infect and unknowingly kill. That is why effective testing is crucial in controlling the spread.

When a test turns positive, people who have been in close contact with the infected person must be traced, and they must also be tested. This has worked very well in Taiwan, New Zealand and now in China, where the virus was first detected.

In these countries, it is under tight control. South Korea was a winner for a while, but a new outbreak has been detected. The same is true in Thailand. Perhaps complacency set in and people lowered their guard and cast off protective measures.

When people are tested positive, all must isolate and, when very sick, go to a hospital. The increasing number of infected people is alarming and exceedingly serious. New records are set every day.

The UK ambulance services are overwhelmed with call-outs. Hospitals everywhere are short of beds and intensive care facilities. Patients are parked in hospital corridors, chapels, canteens and offices. That is the result of irresponsible social contact that has helped the virus to spread.

The United States is one of the worst hit with massive new infections daily. Much of this is due to an irresponsible lack of coordinated response and control fueled by ignorance, denial and inaction among immoral political leaders devoid of intelligence and compassion. Care for and love of neighbor is not on their agenda. President-elect Joe Biden may be just in time to save millions of more Americans from getting infected and dying.

Scientists developed the vaccines astonishingly quickly. Some shared Nobel prizes and other awards will be handed out to the brilliant scientists and their teams that invented an effective vaccine. There must also be awards to the medical personnel, doctors, nurses, and orderlies that have carried the burden of caring for the sick.

This novel coronavirus has one mission: it seems: to transmit itself more effectively and infect and kill as many people as it can. It is a non-living organism but can evolve and mutate in a matter of months into a new, more deadly killer virus. We witness a new strain these days with the new, more virulent mutated virus that is spreading with even quicker and more lethal effect as you read this.

Vaccines will take many months to be available to all people. It will take a year before the world population is partially protected. I say partially because the experts tell us continually that there is no known evidence of how long the vaccine will provide a person with immunity from further infection.

The vaccine does not kill the virus but powers up the human immune system to fight and kill it in the body. We must continue the precautions and protective measures for at least another year before there will be partial protection.

The newly UK-approved Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is one of the best because it can be stored at ordinary refrigeration temperature, so doctors and clinics can store and give it easily. It also costs much less than others. It is most effective after the second jab 21 days after the first injection.

A certificate of vaccination should be made mandatory for job applications or other public services such as school enrolment. Refusal to get vaccinated is endangering the public and is like passing a death sentence to others. Vaccines can help us get back to a non-virus-dominated life and begin an emotional and economic recovery. It can’t come soon enough.

Irish missionary Father Shay Cullen, SSC, established the Preda Foundation in Olongapo City in the Philippines in 1974 to promote human rights and the rights of children, especially victims of sex abuse. The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official editorial position of UCA News.

UCA News Catholic Dioceses in Asia
UCA News Catholic Dioceses in Asia
UCA News Catholic Dioceses in Asia