By Travis Washington
As the Omicron virus is on the decline, states with strong mask mandates Governors like California, Illinois, New Jersey, and New York have started to repeal their mask mandate. November 28th, 2021 South African government announced that there’s a new virus called the Omicron. This virus was detected in hundreds of people. DW-News reported that it’s 500% more infectious than the Delta virus. The Delta virus has ravaged through so many lives not only in America but across the globe. Hearing that there’s a new virus called the Omicron has forced countries like the United Kingdom, United States of America, Germany and many others to place travel bans on countries near Southern Africa. This alarming news report has been put on the World Health Organization’s radar. On NBC News in an interview with Dr. Fauci, “ Booster shots give you a very very important edge”. The Omicron has stronger proteins that means the booster shot is very important to your survival.
Covid-19 origins did start in Wuhan, China and spread across the globe. The beginning of the pandemic we saw a complete shutdown of the world. The United Nations estimates 25 million jobs were lost. This year 2021 comes to a close. We are reopening around the world. People are pleased but the cost of reopening created a new mutation that has been devastating. The virus has mutated multiple times. The strongest form of the virus so far is the Delta Variant. The world has felt the impact of covid-19. Haaretz covid-19 tracker recorded more than 5.9 million globally deaths.
On April 15th, 2020 Former President Trump halted funding for the World Health Organization (W.H.O.). At this time, two million tested positive around the globe for Covid. When W.H.O needed the money during the pandemic, the Trump Administration said they would withhold money until there were significant changes to punish China. Fast forward to 2022 continents like Africa and South America have suffered tremendously. Vaccine inequality and lack of medical supplies has hurt both of these continents. The past of colonialism has been the cause of why continents like Africa , and South America can not make strides in medical, and economic development. These two continents have been dependent on the United Nations, and W.H.O to survive. Halted funding has helped the virus spread rapidly throughout the continents and lack of medical equipment to track it has created new mutations like Delta, and Omicron.
Rich Nations have bought more vaccines than their population needed. Canada, Australia, the United States, and the European Union bought four times their population, according to Quartz. Reporter Annalisa Merelli stated that “Poor countries will have to wait until 2023 to buy Vaccines.” BBC reported Malawi and South Sudan both had to destroy more than 20,000 AstraZeneca vaccines by the time the vaccine arrives, they will have expired before they are put into use. Nigeria also destroyed 1 million doses of AstraZeneca because the vaccines were expired. Another problem with vaccine inequality is that the countries in Africa are charged more per dose than countries in Europe. According to a report in Best Medical Journal (BMJ) “South Africa, for example, reportedly paid $5.25 per dose for the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine in January, more than twice the price of $2.15 per dose paid by the European Union .”
Another problem with vaccine exportations is patent rights. India and South Africa both suffered from the pandemics and tried to waive patent rights . Waving patent rights would give India and South Africa access to create Moderna, Pfizer in their own country without worrying about being sued. Companies like Biotech created the Pfizer Vaccine which has been used to help people all around the world. The vaccine was created in Germany. They have been very adamant about sharing the vaccine recipe. Max Lawson, who works for Oxfam International, said “Chancellor Merkel blocking moves at the World Trade Organization (W.T.O) to share the vaccine recipe.” This has hurt countries across the world and is only giving the virus a chance to mutate.
Racism has been another cause for some people not to receive the vaccine or formulas not to be created in other countries. Tahir Amin Co director I-Mak said “ One of the arguments the vaccine industry is making is that we can’t trust these Global South countries’ manufacturers to make these vaccines”. Global South countries are Latin America, Africa, Caribbean islands, Pacific islands, and the Middle East. The argument used is that the scientists in these countries do not have the intellectual capacity to create the vaccine embedded in racism. On an annual basis, India produces around 15 million kilograms of vaccine.
Profits from Vaccine companies have greatly benefited from the pandemic. In March 2021, Intercept reported “Johnson & Johnson and Moderna promised their Investors there will be price hikes”. J&J kept their promise in the Reuters report “ J&J estimated it’s vaccine price was $5 per dose in the first half of the year and said it would likely be as much as $8 by the year end.” Corporations seeing this as an opportunity to profit this pandemic puts everyone’s lives at risk.
The temporary travel ban will not fix the problem we are facing with the pandemic. Southern African nations were unfairly punished for reporting the Omicron. Omicron was discovered in Europe before South Africa Scientists announced the new variant. This unfair treatment shows how the Continent of Africa has been punished.
We all need to come together if this virus will continue to mutate. China pledges to donate 1 billion vaccines to Africa. It’s all talk until the transaction is made. China, the United States or the European Union need to share the vaccine. Patent rights need to be waived; human lives are more important than profit. The virus doesn’t care about race, religion, or borders drawn to split countries. The virus will kill you.
Travis Washington is a two-time graduate of SIU, having received his Bachelor’s degree in University studies with a minor in Africana Studies and Speech Communication in 2017 and Master’s in Education Administration 2019. Travis is heavily involved in police reform. He is trying to pass a law called the “ Hands Up Act” that would punish police officers with a mandatory 15-year prison sentence if they shoot someone unarmed; it has received more than 2.7 million signatures.