BIRD Flu isn’t something to worry about – probably.
As if the endless pandemic was not enough, 2022 kicked off with the first case of H5N1 in Britain.
And while it won’t be the cause of another pandemic – touch wood – it’s a stark reminder of the global failure to deal with Covid-19. A lack of medical equity will inevitably lead to more virus variants or the spread of new disease.
While the development of the vaccine was a remarkable success, the refusal to distribute it equally has blunted its effect.
While some nations are considering a fourth dose of the jab, others have hardly scratched the surface with the first.
John Burn-Murdoch of the Financial Times noted: “In rich countries, just 18% of people aged 12+ are yet to have any dose, and 5% have now had a third dose.
“In poor countries, 94% are yet to have a single dose.”
We know that vaccines limit transmission and severity. If the entire globe was vaccinated fairly, the pandemic may well already be over.
Omicron – which is delivering up to 200,000 cases a day in the UK – is arguably a product of “vaccine apartheid”. Mutations can develop more easily when the virus is allowed to run riot.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization, warned: “Vaccine nationalism is not just morally indefensible … It is epidemiologically self-defeating and clinically counterproductive”.
Major vaccine companies and powerful nations have simply left others behind – and are now facing the consequences.
It’s no different to what is done in other industries or walks of life, where the Global South is either left behind or exploited. This time, it has led to another extension of the pandemic.
When Covid-19 first spread like wildfire, not many were thinking we’d still be suffering in 2022.
But as the New Year rings in – with a dose of Bird Flu to go with it – the world has received a timely reminder of the importance of co-operation.
Will it heed it?
Well, if Don’t Look Up is anything to go by, don’t bet on it.
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