Blog post by Marica Micallef
In an interview published by the Times of Malta, Health Minister Chris Fearne is seen answering questions in an interview with Bertrand Borg. I will be tackling two topics discussed in this interview in two separate blogs since they require separate and lengthy coverage, but for this blog, I will be analysing the replies given by Dr Fearne .
In the beginning, the article states that “Life will gradually return to some form of normality with COVID-19 as an endemic but “mild” disease, provided vaccines continue to protect people.” Isn’t in the first part of this statement, Fearne admitting that Covid is here to stay? Isn’t this contrary to what was stated in the beginning, that this pandemic will end? I also find the phrase “provided vaccines continue to protect people” very worrying. So, Dr. Fearne seems to imply that Covid-19 will become a “mild” disease as long as people continue to be vaccinated and as long as these vaccines work!
To the question as to why did the number of active cases rise, Dr. Fearne replied “Countries like us, that have vaccinated a lot, are seeing a rising number of new cases in the community”. So, Dr. Fearne, can you answer my question as to how come a country with big numbers of vaccination rates, is seeing a rise in the number of new cases? Doesn’t this imply that the vaccines are not having the desired effect? If so, why? Doesn’t this confirm what I wrote in my blog dated 16th June, entitled “Some countries with high vaccination rates have a surge in Covid19 cases”? Shouldn’t the scenario be the opposite?
When Borg asked Fearne about the easing of restrictions and why this is not possible, a partial reply was “Then, even if numbers in the community remain relatively high, we might ease measures.” So, in the beginning, the Authorities imposed lockdowns on us so to flatten the curve and to lessen the spread, and now, according to the last sentence is it fine now to have “infected” citizens outside? Isn’t this argument that Dr Fearne is making, one which does not hold at all?
What is further striking though, is that in his reply “No, because behaviour has changed”, Dr Fearne admits that life will never get to the pre-covid normality. What kind of behaviour is he referring to? Didn’t he often repeat, in his speeches, that with the vaccines, life will get back to normal? Can the readers and the public see that this does not mirror the transparency that Fearne boasts of in the same interview in the statement “We’ve been transparent from day one on this and we will remain as transparent as possible.”
In addition, doesn’t Fearne’s reply “we don’t know as yet how long immunity from our vaccination will last”, give proof that there is nothing transparent in this Covid thing? Wasn’t the public made to believe that with these current vaccines, they are protected and safe forever? Were those who decided to take the vaccine, told that these vaccines might not give them long immunity? Furthermore, Fearne states that they are currently seeing as to “whether fully vaccinated people that come into contact with a positive case need to remain in quarantine for the whole two weeks”. So, is Dr Fearne admitting that those fully vaccinated can still be infected, can still transmit the virus and still have to be quarantined? Should quarantines be a thing of the past now? And since the generic phrase “positive case” doesn’t point fingers at anyone, this positive case can also mean another vaccinated person, right?
In conclusion, I would like to say that common sense has become not so common nowadays. In a true pandemic, governments will not only close the airports but will then open them for those vaccinated only. When Fearne was asked that “With the benefit of hindsight, it wasn’t all that smart to encourage unvaccinated students to come here”, his reply was “With the benefit of hindsight, there are a lot of things that people would do better.” I find this reply disrespectful towards the Maltese nation. It doesn’t take much to have hindsight. One just needs common sense and to do one plus one, before taking a decision, especially one which carries the responsibility of a nation. Instead, Dr. Fearne created a back and forth swing movement from opening the airports to quarantining students, making in the process a bad name for Malta before sending them back.