Image Credit: Agencies

These past 18 months have posed the greatest and most the difficult challenge to nations in peacetime in the modern era. Economies over the world over have come to an abrupt standstill, public health systems have endured a cataclysmic burden unimagined except by the creators of science fiction works, international travel as we knew it has ceased, and our hospital and health care professionals have been in the front line from Day One.

There is also a human and emotional cost too, with too many families losing too many loved ones, and there are few of us who have not lost a loved one, a family member, a colleague or an acquaintance to coronavirus.

But there has also been hope. In normal times, it takes years for new vaccines to be developed, tested through trials and then approved by regulatory authorities the world over. When coronavirus took hold, the medical and scientific community quickly realised that the one way out of this Covid-19 crisis would be by developing vaccines and getting them into as many arms as quickly as possible. The race to find a vaccine has been truly remarkable and it is one of the truly enlightening positives over this pandemic.

Whether it be in laboratories and research centres in universities or at pharmaceutical companies, be it in China or the US, the UK or Belgium, India or Russia, biotechnologists the world over set to the task. And around the world they have delivered.

Now, billions of doses of vaccines have been delivered and millions are receiving jabs daily, building up antibodies and helping to suppress this virus and counter its variants. While the Delta variant is surging in some areas, overall, the message is clear — the more jabs in arms the better you will be and lessens the severity of potential infection.

The World Health Organisation is determined to vaccinate its way out of this crisis, and vaccine passports in digital form will allow societies to open up and return to a semblance of normality as we knew it. Vaccine passports are essential. And they must be considered to be of equal validity for the system to work.

If there is a negative it is that some regions are favouring one vaccine over another, a trend that smacks of vaccine nationalism. Such thinking is a disservice to all who have died in this pandemic. All vaccines have played their part. And all must be considered equal.