As I got my first of two shots of the Covid-19 vaccination on Christmas Eve, I thought of the unlucky 3,000 Americans dying each day from the virus.
The Covid-19 pandemic has not spared any country as we have witnessed high mortality rates in Europe, India, Latin America, and Middle East, especially in Iran. But the death rates in these regions have not come close to that of the United States.
With its modern healthcare infrastructure, logistics and robust qualified healthcare professionals, how is it possible for the US to lose so many lives to the virus?
To put this into context, in 2019 United States spent 17.7 per cent of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on healthcare, the highest in any developed country. Moreover, for every 1,000 Americans there are 2.6 doctors and 14.6 licensed nurses.
From a layman’s perspective, such a rosy healthcare outlook should not cause any conundrum vis-à-vis relatively higher death rates from coronavirus; until we throw in the sociopolitical wrench into the works.
Multitudes of Americans detest the scientific fact of social distancing, hand sanitizing and mask wearing that infection-control specialists and epidemiologists give as the primary preventive tools to spread the deadly virus.
This phenomenon is borne of Americans distrusting what the government tells them, the Federal system of governance where states have autonomy to make their own laws and policies from the central/Federal government, social media awash with lies and conspiracy theories, and the politicisation of the pandemic by President Donald Trump and his Republican Party minions.
Trump downplayed the danger of the pandemic from the start (in favour of the economy) so much so that he did not only term coronavirus as no more than the common flu that would “miraculously disappear” and refused to wear face mask, but he also blew the dog whistle by tweeting to his supporters to go and “liberate” Michigan, Virginia, and Minnesota. These three states run by opposition Democratic Party governors had mandated lockdowns, mask wearing, hand hygiene and social distancing to fight the virus.
The “liberation” was to embody mass armed demonstrations to force the governors to cancel the lockdowns and open businesses and allow crowded activities such as church services, schools, sports, public transportation, concerts, bars, and restaurants that are Covid-19 super-spreaders.
Not surprising, the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) arrested 12 white supremacist paramilitary militia for allegedly plotting to kidnap and assassinate Governors Gretchen Whitmer and Ralph Northam of states of Michigan and Virginia, respectively, a few weeks after Trump’s “liberation” call.
To these science-denying Americans, coronavirus is a hoax fabricated by the left-wing Democratic Party leaders to infringe on their freedom and liberty. As winter set in, cases started spiking again across the US. Hospitals with many running out of intensive care unit (ICU) beds.
Since hospitals and senior citizens nursing homes are high-density areas for contracting Covid-19, one would think that the high death rates would encourage healthcare workers to eagerly accept the Covid-19 vaccination but many of my fellow hospital workers have refused to take the free vaccine fearing side effects. It magnifies a national trend where recent surveys by Forbes Magazine indicate that 50 per cent of healthcare workers in California and Texas, 60 per cent in Ohio, 55 per cent in New York, and 40 per cent in Illinois refused to take the vaccine.
Mr Vivian Asedri is a US Federal healthcare worker