Trinidad & Tobago’s Covid19 situation
On May 9, 2020, prime minister Dr. Keith Rowley announced a phased strategy by which Trinidad & Tobago will reopen businesses after the nation’s long Covid19 related shut down. The reopening will consist of a grand total of 6 phases of which only 3 have been made public. When asked what he would do if there was a new spike of infections, The prime minister indicated that he would again revert to total lockdown saying “If the spike looks more serious and dangerous, we will have to resort to what was done before.”
It is only obvious that shutting down organizations for an extended period of time will slow down and even kill large amounts of businesses in Trinidad and Tobago which will greatly affect the lives of many. Yet Trinidad’s economic downfall was already occurring prior to this pandemic. The continued decrease of profitability and mismanagement of our oil and gas industry eventually led to the shutting down of the nation’s national refinery.
A survey found that more than 73% of households’ income has already been reduced because of covid19. Trinidad’s government has already claimed to be spending 934 million dollars in an effort to reduce the lockdown damage.
The fear of contracting Covid19 has accelerated Trinidad’s negative social situation and with the virus not yet being isolated in any of its above 4 million infected people, seeing a vaccination seems unlikely in the near future.
Faced then with the fear of the virus on one hand and the fear of hunger, poverty, and socio-economic failure on the other, Trini’s are between a rock and hard place forced to ask themselves in one way or the other “What will do more harm? The Covid19 or the lockdown which it has caused?”
A virus refresher.
Covid19 is still a very mysterious virus that predominantly affects the old, the sick, and the unhealthy or obese. It is quite safe to say that if you are healthy, get your required sleep, exercise, and diet in daily, you are very unlikely to be seriously affected by the virus even if you do manage to get infected. Although this is a known reality, people still seem to view Covid19 as a sure path to the grave. The reality is however that In Trinidad the virus has killed only 8 people out of the 116 it infected. This gives the virus a kill rate of 6.9%. Globally (according to the WHO) the death rate of Covid is even lower leaving only around 3.4% of the people infected dead. Now do not forget those that die are predominantly old and are often suffering from prior illnesses as well. The Covid19 (based on the numbers above) is only around 2% more deadly than the common flu, which has an average global death rate of a little over 1%.
Essentially all these numbers mean is that if there are 100 people infected with Covid19 and another 100 infected with the common flu, around 3-4 of those infected with covid19 would die while around 1-2 would die with the common flu. When one breaks down the numbers like this it only seems reasonable to be aggravated at the current covid19 global panic. And these numbers are beyond conservative since Covid does not have any serious impact on people who are under 65 or on those that are healthy. Therefore the number of real cases, aka those who did not get tested or go on record, is probably far higher which means the death rate is really even lower.
Your chances of dying from covid in Trinidad are light-years below these numbers since obviously you do not count as an infected individual. Since only 8 people have died, the chance that you get covid and die is below 0.0006% (if working with a population size of 1.5m).
Difference between Covid19 and common flu: Vaccines.
When people think about vaccines they think about some magical potion that when injected makes infection impossible by providing some sort of instant immunity. Yet a scientific study titled “Efficacy and effectiveness of influenza vaccines: a systematic review and meta-analysis” found that the effectiveness of vaccines can only be called “moderate.” And even though the protection given can be called moderate (quote) “such protection is greatly reduced or absent in some seasons.” Going further, the study found that any “Evidence for protection in adults aged 65 years or older is lacking.” Mind you that according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, people who are 65 years and over are the ones primarily at risk of dying as a result of the flu (just like with covid). The Flu Shot or Influenza Vaccination has been around for quite some time, in fact, it’s likely (depending on your age) that you have received this vaccine on more than one occasion. Trinidad’s health minister said recently that 112,000 vaccines were administered during flu season. The vaccine has been modified, strengthened, and made to have maximum effectiveness. Despite this many people are still being treated medically for the common flu, many of them having received vaccinations prior.
The main difference between the common flu and the Covid is that because the flu has a vaccine it is harder to contract. But there is a similarity in the Covid and the flu. Namely that if healthy people contract either of the viruses they are likely to get over them without the need of medical attention.
Essentially the effectiveness of a vaccine is measured by how many infections the vaccine actually prevents, yet as mentioned before “Studies on the effectiveness of flu vaccines in the real world are difficult; vaccines may be imperfectly matched, virus prevalence varies widely between years, and influenza (the flu) is often confused with other influenza-like illnesses.” The WHO says the effectiveness of Flu Vaccines vary from year to year, meaning that actual effectiveness is hard to track.
Anti-vaxxers are not the only dummies…
Now I am not claiming to be an anti-vaxxer, nor am I claiming that vaccines do absolutely no good. I agree that flu vaccines may have decreased the number of infections and therefore deaths. Vaccines may also aid in providing herd immunity, but this does not mean vaccines are the fix-all-end-all instant-cure that they are being made out to be. To think and talk as though vaccines are a magical instant immunity is equally as silly as to say that they are totally ineffective. This, however, has not stopped the lie from spreading that nations should remain entirely shut down until we are all vaccinated. A huge grave and subtle crime is committed when the word “vaccine” is used as though it were the same as the word “cure”. A great example of this can be found in Bill Gate’s interview with Ellen Degeneres.
Global mainstream media outlets which no doubt have large influential powers on our government policies are peddling the same story that “large scale social distancing — will need to be in place for many months, perhaps until a vaccine becomes available.” Yet top doctors such as the Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Dr. Anthony Fauci, has admitted that “There’s no guarantee that the vaccine is actually going to be effective.” And more recently the WHO said the virus may simply be around forever. What are we to do? Live in an eternal lockdown?
Common sense wanting more than ever…
The facts as listed above come with the application of common sense. Yet in a world where common sense is very uncommon and misinformation often missed, criticism of these shutdowns finds itself far more wanting than praise. Additionally, when anyone dares to open his mouth and question what seems like a form of unwarranted government overreach he labeled “inconsiderate, hateful, backwards, conspiratorial and even anti-scientific,” despite having not only science on their side but also scientists and doctors who are experts in the respiratory system.
T&T starting to wake up?
Former Arima mayor Ghassan Youssef called on the Government to allow all businesses to reopen. A similar appeal was then made by a businesswoman who “slammed the government for ignoring small and medium businesses.” Additionally, Ricardo Mohammed, director of the Confederation of Regional Business Chambers is calling on the government to allow more small to medium businesses to be opened.
What’s real scare?
When one digs into the issue of the covid19, the government’s shutdown and its reopening plan is scarier than the virus itself. The prime minister’s plans to have regular military patrols go on in the next few months. The patrols will be guided by health officers, and legislative power used to force compliance.
Granted that the flu vaccine hasn’t by any means completely stopped the flu and universally, very few of those infected with the covid would have gone forward for testing. We can by no means assume that covid19 has been or ever will be stopped in Trinidad. It’s likely that many infected people are simply not in need of any medical attention and are therefore not putting themselves forward. After all who wants to be quarantined for an extended period of time when they aren’t even feeling sick? Would you volunteer to eat food you don’t enjoy and live under conditions that are uncertain? Surely not.
We can only logically expect another surge in cases once things get back to normal. But this shouldn’t scare us, granted that as said before, only previously sick and elderly people are at risk of death. Covid19 is more than likely to already be spreading around the country.
But what does Covid19 offer Trinidad and Tobago?
Perhaps we can learn and see the deeper reality of our nation’s sad situation. As it stands Trinidad is not food secure, and the very resource used to import our food is running dry. Trinidad has been run on a ‘gimi-gimi’ system whereby governments promise employment, contracts, business deals, tax breaks, and all of the above, to whoever can assure that they either remain in power or gain new control. The government is now one of the nation’s largest employers, no doubt followed closely by massive private sector conglomerates.
While I hate to say it, our nation is quasi enslaved to either large private sector conglomerates like prestige holdings or government agencies themselves. The moment either of the two powerhouses says to our nation “jump,” everyone needs to respond “how high?” since failure to obey could have serious ramifications.
Very few people in Trinidad & Tobago are self-employed, the majority of the nation depends upon distribution monopolies like HADCO and Massy distribution for their basic daily necessities (and also for employment). Hence we find ourselves taking orders from the rulers of such organizations which typically are closely united to our governments. Evidence of this could be seen in that the team set up by our government to handle the reopening strategy composed of individuals such as Christian Mouttet and Robert Bermudez. Such private-public sector overlaps aren’t uncommon, Christian Mouttet himself has already been given favourable treatment by the government.
What is going on with T&T?
Our nation is being throttled at its throat by rich and powerful men and governments that refuse to disperse their unfair monopolies. Recently, in relation to covid, Amalgamated Security got contract (valued at $10.3 million) from the government to electronically monitor individuals. And it is for this reason that many working-class families have embraced the lockdown as a breath of fresh air, a period of freedom from the mediocre 9-5 rat race. The very deterioration of our nation can finally be ignored and the endless war to make as much money as possible can finally be forgotten. For a little while, as we all self-quarantine we can distract ourselves with one of our many devices.
Trinidad’s depression is a result of its going along with the common global trend towards materialism where most, if not all of our non-material realities of human experience are ignored. We neglect love, compassion, and most importantly meaning. Such concepts resonate deeply with man and are most manifest in his religious expression. This very religious expression has itself been deemed as a totally non-essential service, having no importance in a society dominated by individual consumerism. The number one drive for all our actions has become material gain, at whatever expense necessary. This way of thinking has forced what G.K Chesterton called the “pathetic dilemma of the rich man, who has to keep the poor man just stout enough to do the work and just thin enough to have to do it.”
So where will this heavy-laden materialism take us? This situation which is leading us to identify most with nihilist characters such as the Joker, I fear will result in some form of revolution. A revolution where out of nothing but anger, despair, and animosity, we vote in a Maduro-like-government with only the hope of seeing rich politicians and their Freemasonic business friends burn with us in poverty. It is this very despair animosity and anger that play perfectly into the hands of characters such as Phillip Alexander and Watson Duke.