Thursday, January 27

Do nothing

In this pandemic, it could be said that each unhappy country is unhappy in its own way.

At every turn of the script, we find clumsy, hesitant politicians who sometimes resist listening to scientists as they face undoubtedly difficult decisions about public welfare with unceasing uncertainty. Often these politicians are also worried about their own chair. And none seems to learn from neighboring countries, more concerned with finding excuses to explain why others are different than with understanding the sometimes earlier experience of others as the opportunity to act sooner.

Spain is once again an exception in Europe on the way to face this Christmas, without easily accessible tests, without national containment measures in the most dangerous contexts -the interior- and without even clear and forceful recommendations to invite protection against a A variant that perhaps produces a less intense disease than the previous ones, but which is so contagious that it produces an explosive rise in cases that ends up putting pressure on hospitals and that for the first time escapes the protection of the vaccine, especially if it is not has administered the third dose.

In Spain, there is a very high percentage of people vaccinated with the original regimen -79% of the population-, but other equally or more vaccinated countries, such as Portugal or Denmark, have approved containment measures. Not to mention that Spain is behind Europe in the administration of third doses or that it left part of the population half-vaccinated if it had been infected before, a policy that other countries have not applied.

In this wave, Spain has the advantage of having started from a lower level of infections than most, but it comes with some less tool, such as tests, which are cheaper, accessible and even free in most of Europe. The already natural custom, beyond the obligation, of wearing a mask worthy of the name – not a rag or scarf, as in other countries – helps, but the government’s confusing messages about where the danger lies – it is especially in spaces. indoors, without a well-fitting mask.

In these two years living between Spain and the United Kingdom, I have not yet been able to see that neither of the two governments succeeds with public health measures in a sustained manner; only at times and in some respects. The reality is that both countries have suffered like few others in the world.

But seen in perspective, what is most surprising about the case of Spain is how little the Government cares about the most uninformed population, with fewer resources and fewer possibilities to protect themselves.

Only a part of the population can telework, but not giving a clear instruction for these weeks leaves all workers, also those who could work remotely, at the risk of their companies. And, as we have seen, the largest, most powerful, and probably best-paying companies they are the ones who first send their employees home without waiting for official recommendations. The fact of abolishing quarantines for contacts of those infected with a variant that for the first time escapes somewhat more to vaccines also contributes to inequality. People who telecommute and have more resources will find it easier to isolate themselves and take precautions than those who go to their workplace and cannot say they have to quarantine. There is also no daily testing alternative for these people, as other countries offer to shorten quarantines. The people who work in person and cannot isolate themselves are also usually the same people who cannot get their children out of school sooner to prevent them from becoming infected.

There does not seem to be a public policy that pauses for a moment to think about the most vulnerable people due to age, illness or medical treatment and those around them and who care for them.

The virus does not know about income, sex or personal circumstances, but the measures or the lack of them to stop the contagion or take it as well as possible, yes. It is obvious that part of the responsibility lies with the autonomous communities and some have lived up to it, but the Government has spent months without even trying something similar to a measure or a common message.

The total disinterest of a government of left-wing parties – supposed protectors of the Welfare State – for those who pay the most for the consequences of this epidemic is unprecedented in Europe. Even looking at conservative governments that are very much in favor of limiting public intervention, it is difficult to find another case in which, every time things get complicated, a government leaves the citizen to their fate, with the company, the pharmacy or the autonomous community that it has touched. The consequence of doing nothing is more inequality.

Someday this will end. Through vaccines, responsibility and more science, the end of the pandemic is closer. It will not be because of the actions of Pedro Sánchez and other cowardly politicians – without a doubt, the alternative in the PP is worse.

Hopefully this public health crisis will at least bring other people to the cusp of power who have more courage and more interest in doing their jobs well.