A silver lining | Daily News

A silver lining

A silver lining has emerged amidst the dark clouds for COVID-hit Sri Lanka in terms of vaccines that have been the bone of contention in the past few weeks. Now it seems there is no need for a mighty hurry to grab the second dosage of the vaccine that was deemed to give the recipients total immunity from the deadly virus with certain countries who were ahead of the vaccine drive vis-a-vis Sri Lanka, having found out that the first dosage alone would suffice for almost total immunity to set in.

Seychelles is one of the countries which had experienced this phenomenon. Seventy percent of its population has been vaccinated and it has been found that 86 percent of the people who were given only the first jab showed no signs of contracting the virus long after the gestation period. It was also claimed that the Mix and Match method too was a huge success with a blend of Oxford AstraZeneca and Sinopharm vaccines responding positively. It has also been revealed that the first round recipients of the AstraZeneca vaccine need not fear the delay in obtaining the second jab since the gestation period will hold good for six months as opposed to 12 weeks.

Thus there is no need for undue alarm with regard to the delay in procuring the vaccines with the latest revelation that the Mix and Match method has now been proved to be authentic. Even with the delay in the arrival of the AstraZeneca vaccine to inject the second dosage to 600,000 persons, the steady arrival of the Sinopharm jab would certainly make the authorities sit easy amidst the pressure brought to bear on them for vaccine delays.

Now that the opportunity has been presented to authorities to ensure a smooth vaccination roll-out (via the Covishield and Sinopharm cocktails and also the steady arrival of Sputnik V) we can remove all obstacles that stand in the way to make Sri Lanka safe from the pandemic. But it is regrettable to note that the best chance of fighting the pandemic to its conclusion has been stymied by obstacles being placed on the vaccination drive and difference emerging from within the medical profession itself on how best to contain the virus. Health workers and paramedics too are throwing a spanner in the works with the All Ceylon Nurses Union (ACNU) staging a one day token strike to highlight alleged grievances which they claim the authorities have ignored and laboratory technicians threatening a work stoppage over what they allege to be impediments placed on their duties.

True, nurses and laboratory technicians, like the doctors, are making tremendous sacrifices in the anti-COVID drive and their grievances ought to be taken on board by the Government and remedial measures taken. It is equally important that all parties consider this as a national crisis and act with responsibility. Ditto for Opposition political parties who have only being finding fault with the Government.

True, support is being offered from time to time by Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa - himself now a COVID victim – only to backtrack later to take the Government to task on its alleged shortcomings. This, needless to say, in a negation of the much touted unity to fight the deadly enemy which the Opposition keeps harping about in words but fails to translate into deeds as seen by its “wheelbarrow” campaign on the first day of the current lockdown aimed at ridiculing the whole exercise.

Now that a golden opportunity is being presented to tide over our difficulties vis-a-vis the vaccines, all should act in unison and with single minded purpose for getting the country out of this rut where lockdowns and travel restrictions have heaped untold misery on the public dealing them a double whammy, not to mention its devastating impact on the economy. Under these circumstances it would be ideal if all external matters are placed on the back burner for the moment to fight this single implacable enemy which is wreaking havoc in the country and claiming lives at will. It would be ideal therefore if the GMOA election slated for the 26th of this month is put off for another date. We say this because for the first time in seven years two camps have emerged as contenders having the potential of the election being fiercely contested, taking the minds of the good doctors away from the more urgent need of giving leadership towards fighting the Coronavirus pandemic. It is hoped that members of the medical profession being who they are, saner counsel would prevail and all their energies will be devoted in the public interest. After all, it is the public who financed their higher education enabling them to gain public honour and greater acceptance by society. With the prolonged lockdown expected to bring beneficial results and now the emergence of good news regarding the efficacy of the vaccine blends and the lengthy longevity of the first dosage, no stone should be left unturned to see things through and deliver the country from this deadly nightmare.