Published in El Pais, 13 February 2021.
The COVID-19 pandemic cannot be stopped with just control measures. These were the words of several experts at the beginning of the outbreak. The number of infected people was so great that making them disappear was practically impossible. In theory it meant locking everyone up at home for at least two weeks. Zero movements and try to isolate the sick in the hospital. Impossible! The control measures were to slow down the number of patients until a more humane solution was found.
There are only two options to get rid of the virus. The first is to do nothing. They did something similar during the Spanish flu of 1918-1920. Between 50 and 100 million people died, which is equivalent to almost 6% of the world’s population. I don’t think this would have been a very attractive or humane option to beat COVID-19.
The second option is to find the vaccine, which was not so easy. Now, it is necessary to vaccinate around 70% of the entire world population to stop the pandemic and return to our activities as before. If it is less, it means that COVID-19 will continue to infect people until, through natural immunization, more people are protected. However, this trajectory brings many deaths. And there are two difficulties with this. The first, there are people who do not want to be vaccinated for personal reasons. It is estimated that only 60% -70% want to get vaccinated. Unfortunately, there are many myths and lies about vaccines on the internet stating that the vaccine is dangerous and that it is a huge scam by pharmaceutical companies and governments to make money. I won’t go into details, but what were the causes of death of the loved ones who died what were the causes of death of our loved ones who died last year? The diseases that have vaccines today have reduced the number of deaths since their mandatory implementation.
The second difficulty is that the vaccine has not been tested on children under 18 years of age, so in no country are they vaccinating this group. In Bolivia, almost 40% of the population is under 18 years of age, so 60% is available to be vaccinated. If of this 60% we use a 70% acceptance to vaccinate we reach 42% which is well below the 70% we need. Until we reach 70%, the virus will continue to kill unvaccinated people.
So we need more people to get vaccinated or yes. We have to vaccinate children under 18 years of age and so far there are no results of their investigations. For Bolivia, young people are the key to reaching the immunity percentage and covering enough people to control COVID-19.