As the world grapples with the third wave of the COVID–19 pandemic, it is important to remind Nigerians that the fight against COVID–19 is not over. One can only hope that the pandemic is not working very hard to last forever.
With COVID–19, is Nigeria on track to achieve the real economic growth forecast of 3.15 percent as predicted by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), and 2.5 percent as estimated in a recently published International Monetary Fund (IMF) report? It is imperative to ask these questions against the backdrop of renewed downside risk to the optimism associated with the new Delta Variant of COVID–19 virus.
As I write this article, it has been widely reported that Nigeria has just received 4 million doses of Moderna vaccines from the USA. When are we to produce our own vaccines? As the cases of infected people rise, Lagos remains the epicenter of the pandemic having recorded 4300 new cases and 30 fatalities, according to media reports. Accordingly, new safety protocols have been issued by the National Center for Disease Control (NCDC) with the new variant of the pandemic. Unfortunately, members of the National association of Resident Doctors (NARD) are on strike. A pity!
Many Nigerians are concerned because the pandemic appears not going away. Analysts and public intellectuals are asking, why is the virus very difficult to eradicate. It appears to some individuals that the global herd immunity promised to humanity last year as a singular solution is unattainable. Even as there is vaccine hesitancy globally, most countries particularly in Africa do not have enough vaccines that can go round their citizens.
Will the world reach a point where enough people are immune to stop the spread of the pandemic before its dangerous variant spreads from one part of the globe to the other?
So, when I observed the rate at which affected cases are rising, I asked myself: Will the world reach a point where enough people are immune to stop the spread of the pandemic before its dangerous variant spreads from one part of the globe to the other? Anyway, we now have the Delta Variant in Nigeria. It is no more rumor. The Federal Government has announced that “Nigeria is officially in the third wave of COVID–19 pandemic.” The Delta Variant according to medical experts is more transmissible, vaccine resistant and even able to evade current diagnostic test. I hope that this Delta Variant of COVID–19 will not bring back nations to square one.
It is because of the virulent nature of the Delta Variant of COVID–19 that I warned my mechanic not to come near my house without using facemask to repair a generator. My mechanic, Alfa Jamiu (real name withheld) is one out of many Nigerians who believe that there is no COVID–19. When I invited him to come repair my generator and reminded him of the need to use a facemask, he simply told me in Yoruba Language that “Sir, there is no COVID -19.” One can see the display of ignorance in a man in his late forties. I did not ask him if he has been vaccinated for obvious reasons.
Rather than die out, the COVID-19 virus is skylarking back and forth across the globe in a ping–pong fashion. Can we safely say that the virus is here to stay? But what do we need to do in order to ensure that we are safe too? Honestly, the experts have been talking globally. Advocacy from different media organizations and governments are ongoing. But most individuals have not been convinced that there is a virus which is spreading fast. They will simply tell you like my mechanic “There is no COVID–19.” Some Nigerians will go spiritual to tell you that God is their protector as they leave their faces wide open in public. One wonders if those who died as a result of COVID-19 had no God in their lives. Public gatherings are rampant these days as casualties keep increasing.
A medical expert once told me, “COVID – 19 is not the worst pandemic in history.” But that does not mean we should tempt our Creator. Since 2019, one can see how globalization, air travel and the growing proximity between people and animals have made humanity more vulnerable to infectious diseases. I agree with those who said that sustaining our way of life will require changes in the way we interact with the natural world, the way we think about prevention, and the way we respond to health emergencies. Will vaccine nationalism be a useful strategy to combat a pandemic that moves across the globe? Will self – interest work? These are questions that should bother all of us because some medical experts have expressed their opinions that in a pandemic both domestic and foreign priorities converge. In the final analysis, I only hope that the pandemic will not be endemic.
From the devastation of COVID–19, the world must work together to build an enduring system globally for combating this pandemic and preventing the next one, if any. Figuring how to do this, may be the most meaningful challenge of our time whether there is vaccine hesitancy or not. Let us comply with non–pharmaceutical measures to win the war against the pandemic as we wait patiently for vaccines. We must be responsible individually and collectively for our health. We must protect ourselves by wearing a mask, wash our hands always and maintain social distance. I hope that COVID–19 pandemic will not be forever! Thank you!