July 6, 2021

Lambda & Delta Variants: The Pandemic ain’t over yet & Why We need to Act before ending up at Square One.


As North America and Europe are moving toward normality, new variants are spreading like wildfires around the globe—let’s not make the most expensive mistake in history.

Do you remember when COVID-19 came up last year?

We all have our stories about how the pandemic affected our lives. Most of us had heated exchanges with friends and family discussing the dangers of COVID-19. Some of us decided to belittle the situation and denied wearing masks, keeping distance, or adjusting our lifestyle for a few weeks.

Here we are more than a year later. The United States and Europe have managed to provide vaccinations to most of their citizens, and many of us feel as if this nightmare is already over.

I remember experts fantasizing about how this pandemic will teach mankind that we are all connected—that didn’t go too well.

As I am writing this, reports are coming out about the Lambda variant spreading in South America. It was first discovered in Peru, but there are also first cases in Europe popping up. And you might have seen on the news what’s happening in India. It’s not a big surprise that things are not looking much better in Africa.

Unfortunately, it looks as if we are using the same strategy against COVID-19 that already failed us on climate change: we develop technologies that limit the effects on us while ignoring everything out of sight.

The planet is heating up, and we use air-conditioning. Now we have a pandemic, and we use vaccinations—but only for ourselves, and that’s the problem. We need to find solutions that are not limited to privileged folks.

It is an incredible achievement of scientists around the world that we have several vaccines just one year after COVID-19 came up. But it is an utter failure of humanity that we weren’t able to share with those who are out of sight.

We bait reluctant citizens with lotteries to get vaccinated while folks in Asia, Africa, and Latin America only have limited access. Why are we vaccinating 30-year-olds with no preconditions while 70-year-olds in other parts of the world are waiting?

But that’s not the only paradox we witnessed during the last year and a half.

Most developed countries in the world implemented rules to stop the spread of the virus. Celebrities told us to wear masks, experts warned us to stay at home, and conspiracy theorists questioned all of that. But nobody even thought about the global impact of this pandemic—it was just about us.

Many of us complained about the limitations on daily life and can’t wait to return to our pre-pandemic lifestyle. As if nothing ever happened.

The virus is still out there, and it is mutating. If we don’t stop it anytime soon, there will be variants that can’t be stopped with our fancy vaccines. Of course, these vaccines can be updated, but that will take time. It would almost push us back to square one.

As long as variants like Lambda (South America) and Delta (Africa and Asia) are spreading, there will always remain a danger of even more serious variants.

I understand that we want to go back to normal. But that so-called normal already had the ocean burning last week, caused a heatwave in Canada, and formed a tornado in Europe.

Just because most of us were able to celebrate the 4th of July with friends and family (or on a ridiculous electric surfboard), it doesn’t mean that it’s over yet. It’s time for us to make sure that even the areas in the world that we don’t know much about getting help. Otherwise, the whole drama will start again in the fall.

I never understood why we didn’t just stay at home for six to eight weeks when this pandemic started. I remember suggesting that governments should just hand out money and enable everyone to stay at home without worrying. This would have been the most fitting moment in history to test the idea of a “Universal Basic Income” (for a limited amount of time).

Folks were laughing about that idea. It would be far too expensive. The economy wouldn’t be able to handle it. People would go crazy without work.

Well, one and half years later, I would like to see the actual numbers on the costs and mental health issues caused by a neverending pandemic.

But it’s the same logic we apply when it comes to climate change. We resist questioning our own lifestyle and keep trying to find ways of justifying our needs that destroy the planet. The I-just-want-to mentality only focuses on ourselves without even acknowledging what we cause.

It’s summertime, and literally, all my neighbors couldn’t wait to book their flights to finally go on holiday. A friend told me on the phone about his trip to Mexico by saying, “I just needed some sun.” Another person told me that they need air-conditioning because otherwise, they couldn’t practice yoga indoors. And I am about to get vaccinated myself this Saturday.

It’s always about us.

And that is only human. Of course, we think about ourselves first, and there is nothing wrong with that. We are not limited to one thought. We can think about our well-being and then think about others too. One does not exclude the other.

We need to share our technology with less-developed nations, even if they can’t pay for that—otherwise, we will have to pay for the biggest mistake in history.

And maybe one day, we will truly understand that we are all connected. Nature is trying to teach us.

We’ve witnessed climate change; we’re suffering from a pandemic—what else would it take?


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