As we enter into 2022, where the omicron variant has now been spreading rapidly and brought back the air of 2020’s quarantine, I ask myself frequently whether an end to this will ever be in view. Media across the United States, France and seemingly most other western states, consistently like to cite the reluctance of anti-vaxxers as a reason for the prolongation of the pandemic. While I, too, initially felt as if anti-vaxxers were a huge problem to the continuation of COVID-19 surges, it is becoming increasingly more apparent that the true exacerbators of this virus are countries’ governments themselves.
At this point in time, the majority of Americans are fully vaccinated, approximately 63 percent. While this appears quite low, especially in comparison to the majority of developed Europe, looking into the demographics of vaccinations provides further evidence that in general Americans have been getting vaccinated, contrary to the media’s exaggeration of vaccine refusals. In general, well over 70 percent of American adults over the age of 40 are fully vaccinated (this percentage increases to over 90 percent for those over 65). Additionally, roughly 63 percent of American adults from the age of 25 to 39 are vaccinated. The real reason why our overall percentage is so low is due to the unvaccinated status of young adults (53 percent for those under 17) and children (17 percent for those under 11), in which the CDC and government are responsible as it was these institutions that initially delayed vaccine rollouts for these populations and continue to do so on a state by state basis. Moreover, it is these populations that are confined in school buildings for at least eight hours of the day and are usually more susceptible to viruses in the first place. If the media and government want to state that the prolonging of the virus is due to anti-vaxxers, they have to accurately demonstrate the context that the lowest percentages are found in populations that are not traditionally the “anti-vaxxers” we so fear and were not even, until recently, truly allowed or recommended to get those vaccines. In consensus, the vast majority of Americans have literally done what was asked of them in getting vaccinated. The over-exaggeration of anti-vaxxers being the problem of the continuation of the pandemic is out of context and unnecessarily places the blame on citizens themselves, who have largely been vaccinated, rather than the scientific and governmental institutions that have real power.
Therefore, the question I ask is if so many Americans are getting vaccinated, why are these new variants still popping up, and why are vaccinated people still getting sick? Upon research of vaccination rates across the globe and looking up differing opinions on the true exacerbators of the virus, it seems as if income inequality and government irresponsibility holds the blame. Since the very beginning when companies announced that they have made vaccines for COVID-19, rich countries have consistently monopolized the international vaccine distribution. Most of the developed world, and some outliers who have made national vaccines themselves, have bought out the supply of vaccines, making it so that poorer countries have had to wait increasingly long times to even receive vaccines for their populations.
In essence, it is because of rich, developed nations that COVID-19 is being exacerbated. Poorer countries across the globe consistently report lower vaccination rates, and this is not because of vaccine reluctance per se. It is due to the fact that they simply lack access to these vaccines in the first place due to richer countries hoarding vaccines for solely their populations. This virus, as supported by widespread accessible information, has the ability to mutate in unvaccinated populations. This virus, therefore, will never come to an end so long as these poorer countries are not vaccinated. Our vaccinations will never be valid enough to keep on fighting these new mutations, yet our rich governments are still pushing this notion that it is our, the citizens’, fault for continuing this virus and this vicious cycle, when it is their capitalistic tendency for monopolization that has allowed for variants to take hold in countries across the globe.
In this instance, I no longer hold resentment towards those who have been so adamantly opposed to the vaccine, as evidently those vaccines were never going to last the test of time if rich countries continued to exacerbate the pandemic in poorer countries in the first place. It is therefore absolutely essential that if we truly want an end to this pandemic, we will re-prioritize vaccine distribution and redistribute blame for the continuation of the virus. We must hold our rich governments accountable for monopolizing a solution to a global problem, and we must demand the distribution of vaccines to poorer countries in order to effectively (and theoretically) close this chapter on the pandemic. Any further accusation of anti-vaxxers as being the culprits of this pandemic is absolutely out of line, and just further evidence of our government’s inability to assess this pandemic in a global context while simultaneously subjugating its citizens to personal blame and responsibility for an issue completely out of their control. In response to my own question, I see no end in sight to this pandemic so long as the developed world continues to misunderstand their role in the continuation of this problem. Without this acknowledgement, we will stay in a vicious cycle of new vaccine booster rollouts and continued blame on our citizens, while seemingly staying blind to our government’s fault of making sure this pandemic lasts for good.