GUYANA: Illusions of Freedom — By Mosa Telford

There is controversy surrounding COVID-19 vaccinations in Guyana. While many people are getting vaccinated, others who are vaccine hesitant are being told by their employers that they must be vaccinated or submit to weekly testing. Minister of Health Frank Anthony during a press conference on Wednesday said that the free PCR tests should be utilized by those who have been exposed to the virus.
The reality is that most Guyanese cannot afford to pay for weekly COVID-19 tests. Most people will probably comply, and some may quit their jobs.  Of course, people are split on this issue. Some are saying that employers can do what they believe will protect their employees, while others are saying that it is the violation of people’s rights to force them to become vaccinated.

Freedom is a human right and that includes the right to choose what we want or do not want in our bodies. Perhaps what we have are illusions of freedom. We are trapped by the ideas of what it means to be free; complying with status quo that keeps us caged. Even the air we cannot breathe freely anymore because of this virus.

We are all under threat when we become comfortable with the violation of human rights and advocate for people’s rights to be violated. In some countries like France, to attend places like movie theatres one would have to prove they have been vaccinated or present negative COVID-19 tests. This has sparked protests there.

There is fear that the unvaccinated will prolong the pandemic. Fear is also a pandemic. The assumption by many is that the unvaccinated are ignorant, irresponsible or anti-science and will spread COVID-19 and die from it. Some of the unvaccinated will become infected with COVID-19 and yes some will spread it and die, but some will also recover like the over 170 million people that have recovered worldwide out of the 195 million cases. The issue is that if you are an individual that has not had COVID-19, there is no telling how it would affect you. Therefore, some are advocating for all to be vaccinated so that herd immunity can eventually be achieved.

Across the world, some fully vaccinated people have become sick and some have been hospitalized. These are being called breakthrough cases. Forbes reported a few days ago, “In the U.K, it was reported last week that 40% of confirmed Delta variant patients admitted to hospital had received at least one dose of vaccine. In the Netherlands, hospitals are reporting this month that approximately 75% of hospital admissions are unvaccinated individuals, but 9% of hospitalizations are fully vaccinated individuals who are not immunocompromised, 5% are fully vaccinated, immunocompromised individuals, and for the remaining 11% there are insufficient data on their status.”

According to this report it is mostly the unvaccinated that are being hospitalized but the fully vaccinated are still a minority.   The United States’ Center for Disease Control had previously stated that vaccinated people would not have to wear masks or be tested. Now this week CNN and other news networks reported that CDC has changed the mandate and fully vaccinated people should be tested and continue to wear masks because they can spread the Delta variant. The lines are being blurred between the vaccinated and the unvaccinated and this is some of what is fueling vaccine hesitancy.

Many Guyanese are skeptical because they do not trust the vaccines. Whether it is that they are unsure how the vaccines work, think they are not effective or will cause adverse effects we need to have honest conversations about this issue. Instead of fueling the conflict and furthering the divide, more effort should be put into educating the people. Instead of shaming the unvaccinated educate them about what’s in the vaccine, how it works and its risks. Bullying and threatening people’s perception of their freedom, and threatening people’s jobs can eventually evolve into rebellion and cause more harm than good. The society is threatened by COVID-19, but we are also threatened by intolerance, muzzling the unpopular opinions and poor leadership.

People who have had adverse effects from being vaccinated should not be silenced and their suffering dismissed. As a global village, we have become so accustomed to believing that side effects are normal. We believe that putting plasters on our sores and never getting to the root of the issues to holistically heal us is normal. So many people are walking around with poor health, living on pills, living with pain and will never recover because cures are not created but patients are treated until they die. Coronavirus has been devastating us for almost two years, but people are also still dying every day from heart disease, cancer, diabetes and other diseases. People are still having mental health issues and the divide is growing wider. Some countries are going into lockdown again. In Australia there have been anti-lockdown protests. Every day, we are reminded that the world is in chaos.

We all want COVID-19 to be eliminated. We all know someone or persons who have died from COVID. Some of us have survived COVID. Many people are terrified because the virus keeps mutating. People should make an informed choice to protect themselves and the society.

Earlier this week, Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly Lenox Shuman wrote on his Facebook page that he would suggest only the vaccinated parents receive the ‘Because We Care’ cash grant and only the vaccinated should be able to acquire house lots. The majority did not agree with him because what he wrote was preposterous. It is troubling when politicians can make such ridiculous suggestions like they own the people or the land. Forget about people’s socio-economic status, forget about the children and how their education may be affected, and instead let them suffer and control them by telling them they will not receive this or that if they do not get a vaccine.

The audacity of anyone to suggest that Guyanese should only be entitled to house lots based on their vaccination status is troubling. Every Guyanese should be entitled to a plot of land by birth. Our ancestors fought for this country. Immediately after the end of slavery, those previously enslaved pooled their resources and purchased villages around this country. The lands were then divided among the people. The fact that Guyanese are being made to pay for what is their birthright has always baffled me.

We need leaders in this country that will unite the people and will think before they speak.

Let us tackle COVID-19 a collective, put more effort into education and make choices to protect ourselves and the society.

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  • wally n  On 08/04/2021 at 2:18 pm

    covid is now a political football…scientist against scientist…wear the mask…it does not work.take the vaccine…you can still get covid..jab the kids…bad effects down the line..shut the country down or country (I know) did not, seems OK
    What is the only thing that is certain… Vaccine makers gonna make $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$
    I listened to our “doc” and my friend, in San Jose before I had signed up, after my friend took it, couple of weeks ago, nearly died, came home yesterday, waiting for the results, I don’t know too much, yet, but I am holding off a while longer.

    • Brother Man  On 08/04/2021 at 2:49 pm

      We all have to go one day! You’re in your 80s. What are you fretting’ about? We are all heading to the same final destination and one can stop that train! It doesn’t matter how much money you have or how fit you are. Thank Mother Nature for each sunrise and each sunset.

  • wally n  On 08/04/2021 at 3:24 pm

    well sonny..I DON’T put any thought into the destination, all of my energy goes into the journey, have not done a days work….since 1998, just having fun, with my “money”
    Advice ..I am assuming you are a very young kid. at least mentally, get out of cliche country,there is a big big world out there. See you in NEVIS…soon.

    • Brother Man  On 08/04/2021 at 5:57 pm

      The destination is a state of permanent unconsciousness. I agree with you about the journey. But you are quite experienced as a pro about the mental state, apparently.

  • Francis Quamina Farrier  On 08/05/2021 at 5:19 pm

    Uncle Francis is 83, an’ he took he first juck in February and he second juck in March, an’ Uncle Francis still deh ’bout an’ feelin’ great. Meh ah’ listen to meh frien’ de scientist, Dr. Fouchi. End of story.

  • Dennis Albert  On 08/08/2021 at 1:26 pm

    With all due respect, would we apply this thinking to polio, smallpox, tetanus, influenza and diptheria?

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