The financial damage caused by covid19 can be felt in many economies, from rising unemployment rates to business closings.
Over the past 15 months, many businesses have experienced business disruptions or closures. As we have seen in many countries, when cases decrease and social distancing is relaxed, it leads to increased economic and social activity and the spread of infection.
Vaccination interrupts this dynamic by limiting transmission. As more people get vaccinated, the risk associated with relaxing public health regulations is reduced, allowing a wide range of social and economic activities to resume safely.
Nationally, the rate at which business and social activity can safely resume depends primarily on the effectiveness of mass immunization. This in turn will depend on the timing of vaccine arrivals, quantities, the speed at which vaccines arrive in arms and the level of vaccine acceptance. While the choice to get vaccinated is ultimately a personal decision, it can also be seen as a way to jumpstart our economy and society.
To this end, various business service organizations and associations have come together to launch the Let’s Do Our Part campaign. Interested parties can visit ttbeatcovid19.com to access resources and various creative assets. Efforts have been made to provide individuals with easy-to-use prompts and reminders in their workplaces and media platforms, including social media. All available resources have been developed to be consistent with the advice and guidance given by the World Health Organization (WHO), the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and the Ministry of Health.
The business community also continues to support the ‘vaccine and make it work’ campaign to initially vaccinate all frontline workers and allow businesses to responsibly reopen. Public-private partnerships have proven to be an effective way to deliver mass immunizations, and the private sector’s offer to help in various areas of the immunization program remains open. These support proposals relate to providing locations that can be used as mass vaccination sites as more vaccines become available, as easily accessible vaccination sites can support the campaign. Technical resources that may be required to provide additional logistical support are also available if required.
The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in its May 2021 Economic Outlook noted that “some countries recover much faster than others. Korea and the United States are reaching pre-pandemic per capita income levels after about 18 months, while much of Europe is expected to take nearly three years to recover. In Mexico and South Africa, it could take between three and five years.
Although vaccines are now available, they are in limited quantities. WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus lobbied for vaccine equity, noting at the fifth virtual session of the OECS Assembly that Caribbean economies cannot reopen so much. that they have not been vaccinated and calling for an end to what he called “the two-way pandemic”.
There appears to be a great demand for vaccines, and they will continue to arrive in installments over time. At the time of this writing, about ten percent of our population have been partially vaccinated and 2.1 percent have received their second vaccine. Therefore, if we are to maintain what appears to be a drop in our current infection rate and allow certain areas to reopen before we achieve collective immunity, we must continue to promote and practice responsible behavior.
Access to credible information is essential to tackle pockets of vaccine hesitancy. To this end, we applaud the many private sector organizations that have voluntarily organized various initiatives to promote vaccine awareness among their audiences. With a spirit of collaboration, we are fully convinced that TT can recover.
We invite everyone to be the only one! Let’s each do our part to defeat covid19.
(Submitted by the Trinidad and Tobago Chamber of Commerce and Industry)