Over the past two years, those who have escaped the worst effects of Covid-19 have run the risk of kicking their boots in apoplectic rage, given the absolute inability to learn from the mistakes of the past shown by powerful people.
The problem is even worse in Brazil because, at different times, things happened later here than in other parts of the world. This means that, in theory, we have had time to see what has worked and what has been disastrous in other countries – and yet we insist on the same mistakes or add to them our, often even worse ones.
I call the kind reader’s attention to what happened after the first phase of mass vaccination in countries like Israel and the USA this year, for example. Both nations relatively quickly surpassed the 50% mark of the vaccinated adult population, which brought about a marked reduction in severe cases of Covid-19 and deaths caused by the disease.
Everything is beautiful, isn’t it? The pandemic appeared to be about to be defeated in these places. Restrictions were dropped, one by one, until masks were no longer required even in closed spaces. (In other circumstances, I would make a joke here about the regional mess in the US, where each state made and undone rules on the subject independently, at the whim of the country’s ideological and political bullshit, but our mishmash in this regard has managed to overcome the American.)
Well, in early August 2021, Israel is talking about lockdowns again, as the US tries to turn around in its thirties as the delta variant, the most transmissible form of Sars-CoV-2, the disease-causing coronavirus, advances. In both places, the reluctance of part of the population has prevented vaccines from protecting more people.
It was clear that the “general release” of the masks was premature and reckless. Not that this could not be inferred even before the devastating arrival of the delta variant: viruses that affect the upper respiratory tract are often easily spread, and everything indicates that it will be necessary to vaccinate a very high percentage of the population to actually strangle the large outbreaks of Covid-19.
Remember that natural infection by the disease is very likely to protect those recovered from becoming ill less than vaccination, and that even this supposed “natural protection” is often transient, due to the appearance of new variants of the virus.
The sum of these factors shows that it was a tremendous idea for Jerico to announce four days of party in Rio de Janeiro to celebrate the “end of the pandemic” in September, as Mayor Eduardo Paes (PSD) did. Paes decided not to say anything about the topic while I was writing this column. Not bad, but the mess of public risk communication wreaks havoc that’s very difficult to fix. And it still remains to explain where the mayor was thinking to make this type of announcement considering that, from an epidemiological point of view, September is practically tomorrow – the transmission of the disease has an inertia that is very difficult to change in just one month.
At the moment, we have a single great asset: the Brazilian population is one of the most favorable to vaccination in the world. It would be criminal to throw that advantage away. It is necessary to buy time for vaccination by reinforcing the use of masks until the end of the year, instead of weakening it. Paes and the other mayors of the country should spend the money from the parties in distributing high quality filtering masks to the population, replacing the improvised cloth ones. It’s the only way to a 2022 with more hope.”
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