Vaccination road to global economic reopening

Source: Vaccination road to global economic reopening | Herald (Opinion)

Dynamos Football Club coach Tonderai Ndiraya was recently vaccinated together with his players, as football prepares to restart after a long hiatus

Ruth Butaumocho
African Agenda
Exactly one-and-a-half years after the first case of Covid-19 was reported in Wuhan, China in 2019, several countries around the world are slowly opening up their borders, albeit with caution.

Such moves are being done on the backdrop of the high uptake of Covid-19 vaccinations across the world, particularly in developed nations.

Still numb at how the pandemic upended the world, the countries that are now opening their borders are doing so with caution, amid lingering possibility of a third and virulent wave.

On Monday, Dubai eased Covid-19 restrictions, allowing hotels in the regional tourism hub to operate at full capacity and permitting concerts and sports events where all attendees and participants have been vaccinated.

The United Arab Emirates is currently ranked highly globally for Covid-19 testing and vaccination.

During the same period, Portugal announced that British holiday makers with a negative Covid-19 test will now be able to fly to Portugal as early as next week, as it seeks to open up its tourism sector to the world.

In announcing this move, the Portuguese tourism board said it “looks forward to welcome all travellers from the UK”, a measure that the media has since labelled “the state of calamity rules”, that allows international visitors, while some parts of Portugal remain under lockdown.

According to the Reuters Covid-19 Tracker, Portugal had by Tuesday administered at least 4,6 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines, enough for 22,5 percent of the country’s population, while United Arab Emirates had given out 11,4 million doses, which points to a 58 percent of the population.

With such high uptake of the vaccines, the two countries have every reason to open their borders and allow business to resume, while millions of people elsewhere are still vacillating on whether to be vaccinated or bank on fate to map its destiny in their lives.

More countries could find themselves taking the same route to relax lockdown conditions and open their borders amid growing acceptance by some nationals to take the Covid-19 jab in addition to the prescribed World Health Organisation regulations.

With the world warming up to vaccination and in some instance demanding Covid-19 vaccination and testing certificates, among a litany of requirements, thousands of people who are yet to be vaccinated should consider taking that route.

As Covid-19 vaccination rates increase around the world, people have reasonably begun to ask: how much longer will this pandemic last?

It is an issue surrounded with uncertainties, with a lot of people still undecided on what to do.

However, several countries have hit the ground running and are already vaccinating their people against Covid-19 and battling to ensure herd immunity, in an attempt to save economies that are still reeling from the effects of Covid-19 from collapse.

Africa needs more of the same. The continent needs to open up its economy and making up on lost time.

However, such a feat will only be attained once the continent makes a robust decision to vaccinate at least two-thirds of its adult population against Covid-19, the proportion needed to achieve herd immunity, according to The Lancet Infectious Diseases.

Scientists are optimistic that once people start being immunised en masse, herd immunity will permit society to return to normalcy.

There are already pockets of hope in some parts of Africa where countries are pushing for herd immunity by the end of the year, through various initiatives to entice their communities to be vaccinated.

Zimbabwe is one such country that is moving with haste to vaccinate its people following the procurement of various Covid-19 vaccines from different countries.

The country has fairly done well and is among leading nations in vaccinating its people in Southern Africa.

As of yesterday, more than 600 000 people in the country had received their first doses of the vaccine, while nearly 230 000 had been administered their second shot.

Zimbabwe is administering a basket of four vaccines  Sinopharm, Sinovac, SputnikV and Covaxin which went through rigorous tests before being administered.

With all these vaccines, Zimbabwe has not recorded a single case of any severe side effects.

That development should inspire confidence to multitudes of people who are yet to decide on whether they should be vaccinated or not.

While the decision to vaccinate or not to remains a personal one, it is important for individuals to safeguard themselves and the next person from getting Covid-19 since the inoculation exercise is voluntary.

Like any other country that was affected by Covid-19, the country needs to fully open up and revive some sectors of the economy.

That robust and progressive move can only happen when people become part of the positive trajectory by vaccinating against Covid-19.

Of course, it remains a fact that Covid-19 is a novel virus.

As a results, its treatment remains fraught with uncertainty, a development that has seen a low uptake of the Covid-19 vaccine currently being administered for free in several countries, Zimbabwe included.

It is for that reason that doctors and health personnel need to add their voice in the fight against Covid-19, by fronting awareness campaigns on the importance and efficacy of vaccines.

Boasting their expertise in the medical field, physicians are better placed to explain the consequential effects that the world find itself in, if no necessary measures are taken to prevent the further spread of the diseases.

Currently, outside the World Health Organisation prescribed regulations, such as social distancing, masking up and practicing good hygiene, vaccination remains one of the key strategies in reducing new infections, and that information needs to be disseminated to the nation.

Imparting such vital knowledge calls for all stakeholders to strengthen their communication and awareness expertise to bolster confidence on Covid-19 vaccination.

The country now boasts several positive stories around the Covid-19 vaccinations and such stories and messages should be amplified through various communication channels to ensure that people make informed decisions on inoculations.

The awareness messages can be better enhanced by influencers, such as celebrities, well known personalities and partner organisations on the merits of vaccination.

Just like Portugal and the United Arab Emirates, Zimbabwe is readying to open the tourism sector to the world.

That dream would be made possible once the people assist Government’s efforts in attaining herd immunity, by vaccinating against Covid-19.