The debate about the effectiveness of COVID vaccines is ongoing. We know, though, that being vaccinated does not stop a person from catching COVID-19 or passing it on to other people. So, is the ULP regime’s focus on mandatory vaccines the best way forward for our people? Perhaps the focus should be on face masks and hand-washing with soap?
COVID-19 is primarily transmitted in the air through respiratory droplets that are exhaled by infected people – when they cough, sneeze, sing, talk or breathe – and these droplets are then inhaled by somebody else. Laboratory tests have shown that wearing face masks can block up to 80% of these droplets from escaping into the air, and prevent about 50% of droplets from being inhaled.
Studies have shown that face masks can reduce transmission by about 75%. An international report published in The Lancet (a peer-reviewed general medical journal), which analysed data from 172 studies in 16 countries, found that by wearing a face mask there is just a 3% chance of catching COVID-19.
Given the above data, one wonders whether it is better to call for mandatory face masks, rather than mandatory vaccines. This is easier for people to comply with, can be done more quickly and does not conflict with people’s personal right to be in charge of what medicines go into their body. Teachers are right to protest against mandatory vaccines.
To have any meaningful effect on reducing COVID transmission and infection rates in SVG, Government should make it mandatory to wear a face mask in public places and on public transport.
Government could make cloth face masks here in SVG – we have sewing factories – and hand out cloth face masks free of charge. Government should do this with some urgency and not let poverty – people’s inability to pay for a cloth face mask – be a factor in the spread of COVID in SVG.
We know also that hand-washing can also reduce even prevent COVID transmission. However, thousands of households in SVG do not have mains water. SVG Green Party is calling again on the government to put in water standpipes in poorer areas, so that poorer households can have better access to water and be better able to wash their hands on a regular basis.
Again, Government should do this with some urgency and not let poverty – people’s inability to pay for water – be a factor in the spread of COVID in SVG. Government could also hand out free soap and free alcohol-based hand sanitiser.
There are several different types/variants of the coronavirus that cause COVID-19. And more are emerging from time to time. There is much doubt as to whether any particular vaccine can protect our people from all the different types of coronavirus. However, face masks will work against all of them.
According to The Leader of SVG Green Party, Warrant Officer Ivan Bertie O’Neal BSc (Hons) MSc, MBA, if the government is serious about reducing COVID transmission and infection rates in SVG, then it: should make it mandatory to wear a face mask in public places and on public transport; manufacture cloth face masks in SVG and hand them out free of charge; install standpipes throughout the country in poorer areas, and hand out free soap and hand sanitiser.