No light at the end of the tunnel

No light at the end of the tunnel

Whatever the coronadissidents said about the covid vaccine, we waited for it like manna from heaven. It seemed that when it appeared, our suffering would end and our lives would gradually return to normal. The experts and politicians confirmed this, trying to persuade us to tolerate the hardships of the quarantine restrictions: soon, soon we would see the light at the end of the tunnel!

As luck would have it, on the day the vaccination campaign began in Israel, the number of positive tests skyrocketed to 2,821 infected in one day. The number of seriously ill patients is rising. Hospitals in Jerusalem are overwhelmed and are evacuating coronavirus patients to the center of the country. Nachman Ash, the chief responsible for combating the epidemic, warned: The effect of vaccination will not appear until two months from now. But now this seems too optimistic a prognosis.

The unexpected and rapid emergence of the “British” mutation threatens to generate a new wave of the epidemic. If the new “corona” species proves to be insensitive to vaccines, they will all have to be recalled, adapted, tested, and vaccination started all over again. And who can guarantee that this mutation is the last and that others will not turn out to be even more dangerous? It’s as if the virus is saying: don’t get excited, I’m still here and I won’t just leave.

Due to the mutation of the coronavirus, even stricter measures have been urgently introduced: the closure of flights to other countries, a ban on the entry of all foreigners, a mandatory quarantine for Israelis entering the country. The same thing is happening in other countries – despite the vaccine, the world is closing down again. Meanwhile, in the “quarantine” hotels for those arriving from abroad, suicides and riots have broken out – people are losing their nerve. In short, not only light, but also no light at the end of the quarantine tunnel.

The vaccine itself has brought many surprises. Initially, polls showed a rather high degree of distrust of vaccination in society. So the government launched an extensive propaganda campaign involving prominent politicians, public figures, artists, doctors, scientists, religious leaders, local Google and Facebook affiliates. The photo of our prime minister with his sleeve rolled up went all over the newspapers of the world.

The “operation to save Israel”, as a spokesman for the Health Ministry called it, cost the treasury tens of millions of shekels, and proved to be a great success: on the very first day tens of thousands of people pounded the phones of health institutions to make an appointment for vaccinations. And then it turned out that the system was not ready for such an influx of applicants: the logistics were not worked out, the hotlines could not keep up, there were not enough employees to sign up, and the vaccine in many departments was already running out, although our leaders assured us that it would suffice for everyone. And this is only the first round of vaccinations… Now it seems that propagandists will have to persuade people not to rush to get vaccinated, and politicians will have to be the last to get vaccinated, not the first, like the head of the Shlomi Regional Council, who decided to protest against the lack of vaccination centers.

More trouble was expected from the ultra-Orthodox population, which has so far stubbornly ignored the government order. But this time, influential rabbis unanimously urged their followers to be vaccinated, and many even decided to inspire the community by their own example. This reaction was the result of the work of special liaison groups organized by the Ministry of Health. I don’t know why this kind of competent outreach could not have been organized earlier, at the beginning of the coronapandemic. Perhaps then we would not have had so many infected and deadly cases among the Haredim and in the country as a whole, and the quarantine would not have been so long.

All in all, the picture is a bleak, though familiar, one. There is still a long, long way to go until we achieve normal life. There are many bleak days and even months ahead, when the economy will fall and unemployment will rise with depression and insecurity. Among other things, we have seen that those in power are unable to foresee developments even one step ahead, whether they relate to the behavior of the virus or to the state of society. And if so, why should we listen to them?

The authorities in many countries are already realizing that they have rushed to indoctrinate people into believing in the saving power of vaccination. In the near future, we will probably be persuaded not to rely too much on vaccination and to continue quarantine until further notice. But it is not known whether this will help to maintain control of the situation and force people to comply with more and more regulations restricting their lives. The protest movement is growing worldwide amid widespread despair and a sense of doom. Disappointment with the vaccine could be the final straw that breaks the cup of public patience.