Jamaica’s vaccination blitz catches cold and needs to correct a fiasco-June 21

However, you want to look at it, Jamaica’s vaccination programme hit a road block this past week. Depsite recent reassurances that enough doses were in available to give those needing their 2nd doses, we’ve had a week of people being told that was not so, and having scheduled appointments cancelled, pending supply arrivals.

We had chaotic scenes at the National Arena last Saturday, when people crowed outside the venue and it had to be closed early, with further doses only going to those over 50.

Part of the problem was total supply, but some problems were to do with vaccines being not distributed well across the island, with some rural sites nearly empty, according to eyewitness reports. Some wondered if JDF helicopters couldn’t have been used to help redistribute supplies over the weekend.

Unfortunately, much confusion happened as confirmed appointments were cancelled and people were struggling to rearrange their movements and policy decisions were being reversed quickly.

Ir’a not realistic for people to be online all the time and be ready to switch around at a moment’s notice. So, something will have to be done to honour commitments, within a day, at least.

I was called a week ago by RJR to talk about ‘vaccine hesitancy’ amongst Jamaica’s senior citizens. I was adamant that my view was that access was the major problem, not relucance to take vaccines (real hesitancy). I thought this was especially true in rural areas. Minister Tufton reiterated that access point, but now we will have to see the fall out from the weekend’s debacle and if it makes people less trustful of the vaccination processes and generate real hesitancy.

COVID update, Jamaica-June 18, 2021

Minister Tufton’s ‘COVID Conversations’ on June 17 updated on the latest vaccination blitz, which has seen about 11,000 people get their 2nd doses, and just under 1,000 getting first doses. Blitz operations will continue during June 19-20. About 220,000 have had at least first doses (only 6% of total population), with 52,000 having had 2nd doses and 168,000 only had their first doses of AztraZeneca vaccines.

The Minister noted, however, that supply issues may meant curbing the vaccination drive for 2nd doses, limiting them to the most vulnerable:

This warning sits oddly, coming just days after Howard Mitchell, chair of the National Health Fund was saying we should prepare for a large influx of vaccinces imminently:

COVID trends continue to improve, with fewer cases and sharply lower positivity rates, now with a 7-day average under 10 percent:

Quarantine questions and quandaries-June 10, 2021

I ended my 14-day quarantine, today, after day 10; we returned to the island on May 30. I hope that won’t cause drama with our DRMA. A few things went into my actions. First, there’s no hard and fast rules about COVID quarantine duration, and countries have opted for what makes sense to them, politically, with some medical concerns. CDC guidelines say 7-14 days is the window to consider.

So, we first had a quandary at the weekend, because we had the chance to get our 2nd vaccine, a week early. So, should be break quarantine for that? Yes. We would have had this same issue this coming Saturday, our due date, which would have been day 13. We’ve isolated at home and all the main protocols are still part of our routines–masks, distancing, sanitisation. Quarantine didn’t change that; we even had some days of partial isolation at home, apart from our housekeeper, who hadn’t travelled.

Next, we thought about why and where we break quarantine, formally. Well, my plan was to be walking on the golf course, which is social distance heaven, with mask-wearing as needed.

I’d had a real concern about going to the golf course, earlier, in the quarantine period, simply considering whether I might have compromised someone had some misadventure befallen me.

Quarantine is about self-discipline, and many just have not bothered. Our rules are that you commit to it when you get authorisation, but there’s no way to monitor it. At earlier stages, people had to sign a contract that they’d be in quarantine and we also tried some ‘geo-tagging’ through mobile phones. That seemed less likely to work because the loopholes were obvious. Some countries in Asia had gone for armbands or other forms of real geotagging. But, that takes a lot of resources to implement.

Some countries have enforced quarantine in designated facilities, eg hotels in Canada for C$2000. In Jamaica, we did that in 2020, using some of our hotels. Some people bridled at various aspects of the process.

Confinement isn’t a normal part of human life and when it’s imposed, not voluntary, our mental resistance tends to be greater; no surprise. But, in reality, for most of the time, quarantine, for us, hasn’t been much different from the rest of time during COVID, besides not leaving the house to do routine things like shopping. My wife has the online grocery ordering off-pat. We live in an area where our favourite ice cream now comes from a roaming truck and its chimes are one of the major pluses of #COVID19Life. We have people come to the house and all is done at a distance and with masks. Some friends came for mangoes and collected the bagful left for them then stayed for a chat, 4 metres apart.

Like most of the restrictions, it’s not so hard if you’re living conditions are not a big constraint. We have space and a range of options; we could have a party, socially-distanced without much issue, besides agreed numbers. But, I pity those whose living conditions are not so easy. That’s an issue not so well-addressed in Jamaica, in part, because we don’t have many real options for people to recreate outside their homes besides being on the street. It’s quite different if you live in London and have some of the world’s best urban parks. It can be fixed, in part, but needs thinking through, like all things.

The magic of the FA Cup: Leicester City bringing more fairy tales to life-May 16, 2021

I’m a closet fan of Leicester City. It began years ago, in the early 1960s, when they were a good English First Division club, that constantly developed great players. From then, into the 1990s, the club could be named amongst those who’d been home to some of England’s best players-Shilton, Weller, Worthington, Clarke, Lineker, Heskey and some from elsewhere in Britain, such as Neil Lennon. Many went on to other clubs for stunning fees.

Then, the team waned and struggled, financially, needing the saving savings of big investors, the most recent and important being the current Thai owners, namely Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, the Thai businessman and billionaire, and the founder, owner and chairman of King Power Duty Free, from 2010 until his tragic death in a helicopter crash at the King Power Stadium. His legacy is carried on by his family. His commitment helped Leicester do the most improbable feat of winning the Premier League, in 2016, under Claudio Raineri. They did that after narrowly missing relegation, the previous season. They have since sold some of their key players from the title-winning season, some of whom have gone on to win the Premiership with their new clubs. They sacked a few managers and floundered a little, but solidified themselves as a top team in the past three seasons, managing to make their way into European competitions, under Brendan Rodgers since 2019, who’s showed his style and imagination with Chelsea, Liverpool and Celtic.

But, they also had the sad legacy of most times in an FA Cup Final and not won–4…until yesterday.

They brought the magic again, on a day when masses of fans were allowed into a football stadium for the first time during the pandemic–22,000, roaring as they should.

They won the cup with a wonder goal, too, by Belgian Youri Tielemans, and the match has been dubbed “The Tielemans final”. Watch it, and watch it again, and again:

A quick VAR check for handball by Perez in the build-up, and the 63rd minute goal was confirmed.

It was just what fans want to see, live. I was out of my seat. So, too, was Gary Lineker, now in his pundit role as presenter for BBC’s Match of the day.

It was also putting up two fingers to the aborted European Super League, with the displays of affection between Chairman, management and team…connected top to bottom:

Leicester also showed that spending big money for ‘big’ stars is not always the way to success, and bringing on lesser-known players and developing them in a solid youth/academy system is a great way to go. Ironically, two of Leicester’s developed stars were on the losing Chelsea team, and Ben Chilwell nearly spoiled the party twice, with a header saved by Schmeichel and then a goal in the 88th minute, ruled out by VAR.

In the mix, was another piece of Jamie Vardy history-making, as the only player to have played in every round of the FA Cup (14), and won the trophy:

So, there’s plenty to savour and plenty to talk about for years to come. But, for now, the focus is on a nice piece of silverware to mark another good season.

Flu has flown the coop-May 6, 2021

The results are clear: the fight against COVID-19 has been won in 2020-21…against flu strains.

COVID vaccine hesitancy in the USA as herd immunity seems unlikely-May 3, 2021

It’s more than ironic that as more vaccines have been rolled out, and major developed countries grabbed the bulk of those, we find they are now the major problem to overcoming COVID. They’ve done well to get 1st vaccines to the bulk of their populations in some cases, and must now get the job done of giving 2nd doses. Here’s where they are hitting a wall of ‘vaccination hesitancy’. The USA has now about 30% of it population fully vaccinated against COVID. Daily vaccinations are declining from about 3 million to 2.5 million. The ‘hesitancy’ map for that is interesting for its apparent clustering:

CDC also has an interactive map:

Wyoming has been flagged as having the worst cast of hesitancy, about 32%:

So, the risk facing the USA now is that, even with its fast roll-out, the sought for ‘herd immunity’ is now less likely. The needed rate was about 70%, but with variants spreading, a number nearer 80% seems needed.

We heard that CVS and Walgreen’s have wasted more vaccines that most states combined.

Meanwhile, those of us in the rest of the world are just desperate to get a substantial stock of vaccines, and are imploring the USA to let us have some of the 60 million AstraZeneca doses they’ve so far said they’ll offer other countries, once it receives federal approval.

COVID takes a new downturn in Jamaica, but vaccination programme has to stall-April 22, 2021

Health and wellness minister, Dr. Chris Tufton, gave Parliament an update, yesterday, on COVID issues and the vaccination programme:

Key points are in the following Twitter thread:

Notably, the reproductive rate has fallen from about 1.3 to 0.9, indicating the chances of spread are lessening. Also, positivity rates have fallen from near 40% to about 15%.

Data show that COVID trends are improving. The vaccination programme has stalled because of the slow supply coming from COVAX.

He also addressed reports of health workers coming under attack:

Such attacks have included death threats to the chief medical officer.

#COVID19Chronicles-361: April 1- 2021-Lenten reflections 43-April Fools’ Day

Personally, I don’t see that one has to walk around po-faced during a pandemic. I aways look forward to today, April 1, April Fool’s Day, and try at least one prank of my own. My normal victim isn’t here, this year, as she’s away at school. So, here is a selection of jokes that have been found this year-some good ones:

I could understand better hesitancy because of the surge in fake news, as it seems that gullibility has reached all-time highs.

#COVID19Chronicles-339: March 10, 2021-Lenten reflections 23-What an anniversary! Happy COVID19 day, Jamaica. Vaccination time!

A year ago, today, Jamaica recorded its first COVID19 case:

Ironically, today is also when the first COVID19 vaccines will be given:

#COVID19Chronicles-326: February 26, 2021-Lenten reflections 10-Getting out of a fine data breach mess

Last night, the PM issued a statement about the state of cybersecurity policy, including the now messy situation regarding the JamCOVID19 app, which was reported to have shown a 3rd data exposure/breach:

It emerged that the JamCOVID19 website was down for ‘maintenance’:

The indications that cybersecurity concerns and actions will be accelerated is a coherent-sounding situation, but it’s been part of a messy slog as issues were shown clearly to exist in this key part of Jamaica’s current cyber architecture.

I wont go over the trail of tweets and emails that have gone on between Zack Whittaker, Amber Group and government ministries, but the read like a piece of classic denial by politicians and fuzziness on the part of the corporate entity directly responsible for the problem. Owning the fault seems to be no part of the official and business strategy.

He reported that he’d advised Amber Group of a third security lapse:

Tech industry experts have tried to play mediator, of a sort:

The website being “under maintenance” will have an impact on travellers wanting to come to Jamaica; how much and how long, isn’t clear. But, it’s a messy stage in a messy situation and it’s not clear, yet, who and when the mess will get sorted.