Jennie Ridyard
2 minute read
22 Nov 2021
9:45 am

Covid waves Christmas goodbye

Jennie Ridyard

Still, unmasked, unvaccinated, they protest; they protest against the only solution we’ve got, even while they are the problem.

The health department is urging those who have not yet received their Covid-19 vaccine to do so as soon as possible - to avoid at all costs a repeat of last year's dismal festive season. Picture for illustration: iStock

It’s winter in the Northern Hemisphere: dark nights, twinkly lights, cosy houses, the festive season… Covid season. Because here comes the fourth wave, waving Christmas goodbye.

Hospitals are fast filling up across Europe.

Here in Ireland, elective procedures are being cancelled. The emergency room doctor on the TV news says they only have two beds left in his intensive care unit (ICU).

Restaurants, bars, theatres and cinemas must check vaccination certificates at the door. And so must gigs and nightclubs.

Closing times creep earlier: now everything must be shut by midnight. All because the hospitals are near capacity in Ireland.

But why, when we have one of the highest vaccination rates in the world and one of the most compliant populations in the world – and, perhaps not uncoincidentally, one of the most educated populations in the world?

We were jabbed in droves: an impressive 91% of over-12s are fully vaccinated, rising to about 95% in over 18s. One thing Irish people do have, generally, is a sense of communal responsibility, of being in this together. We did it for the greater good.

So why are we at this juncture now? Are vaccinations not working? Perhaps not as well as hoped.

However, dig deeper and the figures are telling: 5% of adults are not vaccinated, and yet 52% of admissions to ICU are of the unvaccinated, with a further 5% only partially vaccinated.

As for the remaining 43% of ICU patients who have been fully vaccinated, all of them are either immunocompromised or have other medical vulnerabilities.

So, baldly, if 5% of the population weren’t fearful, hesitant, in denial, or being complete idiots, then Irish ICUs would be significantly less than half-full.

Instead, we teeter on the brink. Again. As does Europe – again.

Protests and rioting are rife. Today, in Austria – where vaccinations have stalled at two-thirds and the death rate has tripled – they’re shutting down the country for 20 days.

In Vienna, crowds marched in protest on Saturday even when one of the far-right leaders behind it all had to stay home, because he tested positive!

You could not make it up.

Still, unmasked, unvaccinated, they protest; they protest against the only solution we’ve got, even while they are the problem.