In a perverse sense, Vanuatu has not been well-served by the effectiveness of its early border closure. The fact that we’re still (as I write this, anyway) free from widespread local infection has given rise to a dangerous complacency. Among the most privileged in this society, there’s a sense that we done good. We’re in the clear as long as we keep the borders closed.
This has led to a dangerous sense of exceptionalism. That there’s something special about us that makes the virus leave us alone. Ignoring the example of nearly every single one of our nearest geographic neighbours, we have tacitly come to believe that we’ll be fine if we keep doing what we’re doing.
We think we’re special. But we’re not.
Even as we shift away from deadly complacence, there are still far too many people who think they’re special. We’ve seen people making political hay from baseless vaccination fears. One MP even went so far as to call Astra Zeneca a ‘deadly poison’ and called on the people of his island to forbid health teams from even visiting.
This kind of thinking: that somehow we’re special, and the virus won’t touch us if we remain spiritually or idiologically* pure… well, it’s bunk. The virus doesn’t care.
Others have walked past the volumes of research, development and testing that have been done to tell us that nobody knows what’s in this ‘experimental’ vaccine. (They do, of course. A benign monkey virus
holds the payload.) They neglect to say that all vaccines start out as experimental, and this particular bunch have been injected into billions of arms already.
The virus doesn’t care if you did the reading.
It’s not just Ni Vanuatu who are special. Mere days after Health officials announced a reduced intake quota due to Delta concerns, a flight of Australian defence staff was signed off ‘at the highest level’. This breach of protocol
took workers by surprise. They scrambled to respond.
Barely a week later, a plane inbound from Nouméa was supposed to be laden with cargo only, but surprise! Eighteen passengers were aboard
. One of them was an MP who had been seeking medical treatment there. According to the Prime Minister’s Public Relations Officer, he was one of two people who tested positive.
In the few days since it was announced that we may indeed have Delta cases here, albeit safely in isolation, the government’s messaging has been worse than random. The sudden realisation that there might be repercussions for our words and actions has yet to fully land.
Decisions and announcements are delayed because nobody wants to be the one who says the thing that no one wants to hear. Paralysis is rampant through the under-oxygenated upper atmosphere of Vanuatu society.
I’m not sure we’ve grasped that a pandemic is also a great levelling. Holding a stupid opinion or clinging to belief won’t save your life. Consensus around the facts is the only way we get through this without unnecessary losses.
This means accepting that our ability to combat the virus is appallingly limited. People will likely die. Many of those will die untreated at home.
All we can do is protect as many as possible through vaccination. You can track our progress here: