The Virgin Islands — like the British overseas territory of Gibraltar — should have been approaching herd immunity and getting back to normal. Instead, conspiracy theories and anti-vaccinators have held the territory back.
Now the VI is back where it started in early 2020.
All the gains by the prudence of a VI Party government that at least got it right with the pandemic science have been rolled back by sheer ignorance.
Had the VI been at least 80 percent vaccinated with a first dose — which would have been easily done with the aid of the rollout of the United Kingdom-donated AstraZeneca vaccine — this present health crisis would not have been visited upon us.
Now, there are no guarantees.
Will schools return to normal in September? Will businesses allow unvaccinated employees to work side by side with the vaccinated? Will the critical economic pillar of tourism suffer further trauma? Will there be a return to recession and poverty?
The preceding are some of the hard questions that will shortly be answered.
The United States and UK, which were among the countries that suffered the most from the pandemic, are feeling optimistic. Why? Infections, illnesses and deaths are falling significantly as a result of massive vaccine rollouts.
The US, like the VI, fell into the anti-vaccine narrative early on, mainly driven by evangelicals and conspiracy theorists.
However, a new Biden presidency took a hard right turn, and moved in the direction of science. The result is a decline in the infection and death rate.
The UK, too, made huge errors by failing to lock down early, and that cost thousands of lives. The UK-led AstraZeneca vaccine research and rollout programme pulled the territory from the precipice.
Today the VI could have been where Gibraltar is today, with the population getting back to normal. Instead, a strong anti-science religious culture has kept the territory back.
A second pandemic wave probably driven by a Delta variant has visited fear and anxiety upon the land.
The hope is that strong hygiene and medical protocols will keep the surge from further increase. But that is a hope, not a certainty.
Had the territory been approaching herd immunity today, the situation would be greatly different, with a safe and confident population. Instead, we are back at square one.
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