If only we had our own Sajid Javid

In the absence of Sajid Javid, maybe Malta could learn from our UK counter-parts and restore normal life, return our freedoms and let business operate under normal conditions

Sajid Javid
Sajid Javid

By Kevin-James Fenech

Kevin is the founder and owner of JOB Search - jobsearch.mt and FENCI Consulting fenci.eu.

Sajid Javid is the UK’s new Health Secretary and in my opinion is showing everyone in no uncertain terms how government’s should respond in a post-COVID and herd immunity reality.

What a refreshing change it is to watch and listen to the UK government declare that come the 19 July masks will become voluntary in all settings, including shops, hospitality and public transport. Or that fully vaccinated people can travel to amber countries without needing to self-isolate upon return.

The raison d’être is that all scientific modelling suggests that the lifting of restrictions will lead to an increase in infections but the vaccine rollout has broken the link between infections vs. hospitalisations and deaths. Put simply, although infections will go up as restrictions are lifted they will not put pressure on the health system. Actually, the current Delta Variant is described as a mild cold and most people barely realise they have COVID-19.

In fact, Malta can be sure that infections will go up this summer as we open up but the number of people being admitted to hospital for severe symptoms or the number of deaths directly cased by COVID will remain flat and definitely will not put a pressure on our national health service.

I have always admired the Brits but now maybe even more. In my opinion, they are showing every European government including our own, what leadership is all about and that they truly love democracy and freedom. It takes great courage to do what the Brits are doing since infections are on the rise make no mistake about that but the government has realised that it is now time to go back to normal.

In the words of Sajid Javid, “We also need to be clear that cases are going to rise significantly. I know many people will be cautious about the easing of restrictions – that’s completely understandable. But no date we choose will ever come without risk, so we have to take a broad and balanced view. We are going to have to learn to accept the existence of Covid and find ways to cope with it – just as we already do with flu. The economic arguments for opening up are well known, but for me, the health arguments are equally compelling.”

Meanwhile in Malta, we persist with scare tactics and fear mongering and this obsession with reporting the daily number of infections even though hospitalisations and deaths are now negligible. We give the impression that the only way to win back your fundamental rights and freedoms is to get vaccinated. We discriminate and almost victimise the non-vaccinated despite reaching herd immunity. The latest attack is on our children believe it or not! Dr. Fear is urging/insisting that parents vaccinate 12-17 year olds before school starts in September ! Maybe they didn’t read WHO’s advice that one should only consider vaccinating a child if they fall in the high risk category given that clinical trials are still ongoing and we do not yet know the long term effects of the vaccine hence the reason why all vaccines only have a temporary emergency license!

Look it is easy to get lost in the COVID-19 debate and follow the authority our of public health officials since there is a lot of misinformation for employers, employees and people in general to get to grips with. The undisputed facts are the following:

We do not have a Public Health Emergency as defined by law. The only time this was officially declared was for a few months in 2020;

Malta is at a more advanced stage in its vaccine rollout than the UK;

We have as a country achieved herd immunity version 1 (70% have had either a first or second dose), version 2 (70% have been fully inoculated) & soon version 3 (85% of the population vaccinated);

We also no longer have a pandemic situation as defined by science and most of Europe is in an endemic situation;

COVID-19 mortality rate is now estimated to be 0.13% (possibly slightly higher) and this is comparable to a bad season of flu;

Masks or face coverings, especially cloth masks and visors, literally do not block COVID-19 particles since their size is significantly smaller than the breathing holes in the masks. To graphically explain, the size of respiratory droplet is up to 50 times bigger than a coronavirus particle or a dust particle is up 100 times larger (vide image).

With this in mind, the Maltese government needs to take a leaf out of the UK government’s play book and have the courage to draw a line with all the public health restrictions. To stop reporting number of infections and look at the figures that matter namely number of people being hospitalised and mortality rates. The government also needs to embark on a communications campaign to help our traumatised population feel safe again and comfortable returning to normal life. The country needs normality and the economy needs to go back to business as usual without any public health restrictions or stops and starts. The government has to set the tone so businesses, educators, employees, all of our social and economic key stakeholders, have the courage to go back to normal. We are in this together and must get out of it together.

Finally, we can not discriminate between people! The government, employers or any institution can not discriminate between vaccinated and non vaccinated people. This goes against basic fundamental human rights!

If we don’t have a pandemic, if we achieved herd immunity 1, 2 & soon 3 and if we do not have a public health emergency, all public heath restrictions needs to be downgraded to guidance or guidelines and the law must treat all citizens equally and must must not discriminate.

In the absence of Sajid Javid, maybe Malta could learn from our UK counter-parts and restore normal life, return our freedoms and let business operate under normal conditions. I am sure the Maltese people will understand that COVID-19 in a post-herd immunity world, is no more dangerous than seasonal flu and that we can learn to live with it, just like we have as a planet learned to live with four other pandemics in the last 100 years.

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