If You Don’t Have the Do, Re, Mi

God, Mike Pence is a brave soul, he rolled up the sleeve of his button-down shirt and took the COVID-19 vaccine without a complaint, not a hair on his button down head was disturbed, there was not even a tear or a whimper or a slight moan and he even kept that strange plaster smile throughout, but why Pence and not Bone Spurs?

I thought that, in a show of unusual grace, Bone Spurs said the members of his cabinet and White House employees would go to the back of the line and wait until other federal employees got the shots. I guess Pence is not part of the cabinet or the government, so Pence is no longer vice president but that news passed me by, though it is very good news, indeed, and begs the question, then who is the vice president, Donald Jr.? Oy.

I am thrilled that the vaccine has been made available but I have to put a damper on my excitement because I don’t expect that millions of us including me will get the vaccine until the spring and that is a long time from now and all kinds of things could happen, like a civil war or something, especially now that we know the Russians have hacked every inch of our country and our government while Trump sat back and fiddled or maybe a new mutant strain of COVID will arise and curse that I said that.

Reality check: In the last five days, the U.S. has reported more than 1 million new cases, and in California, the avalanche of new cases means that a mere 3 percent of I.C.U. beds are available. In terms of dollars, the pandemic is costing the global economy $375 billion every month and that is a lot of dough, even for Jeff Bezos, he of Amazon fame worth $185.7 billion or even that relative pauper, Bernard Arnault, chairman and CEO of LVMH, worth just $147.7 billion.

And while I’m on it, the 10 richest people on the planet could pool just a teensie bit of their wealth and they could probably fund all the vaccines needed on the planet. They would be, in order of obscene amounts of wealth: Bezos; Arnault; Elon Musk, Tesla and Space X founder, worth $147.2 billion; Bill Gates, Microsoft founder, $119.7 billion; Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook founder, $100.8 billion; Larry Ellison, founder of Oracle, $87.6 billion; Warren Buffett, CEO,Berkshire Hathaway, $84.2 billion; Mukesh Ambani, chairman Reliance Industries Ltd., the largest corporation in India, $76.4 billion; Larry Page, Google co-founder, $76 billion; and Amancio Ortega, CEO Zara, Spanish retail clothing company, $74.6 billion.

I think about a few sayings in this time of hope mixed with skepticism, like “I am my brother’s keeper?” Cain’s question to God after he slew Abel; “We are all connected; To each other biologically. To the earth, chemically. To the rest of the universe atomically” according to the great and wise scientist Neil deGrasse Tyson; and of course, “If you don’t have the dough re mi, you won’t get the vaccine, don’t you see,” to paraphrase the late, great poet and songwriter, Woody Guthrie. Are you listening Jeff Bezos?

“I am my brother’s keeper?” is a good question to be asking of the Israeli government, the land of antiquity at the heart of the biblical stories, but unfortunately when it comes to the Palestinians, the attitude is “I am not my brother’s keeper.” It seems that Israel is starting to vaccinate Israeli citizens against COVID-19 but it could be months before nearly 5 million Palestinians living in the occupied territories even begin to get the magic bullet. The reasons for the delays? Financial, political, logistical but none are acceptable because the delays will result in further avoidable deaths. Nothing new there, the problem is common in many countries that have colonized and bled their neighbors.

Which gets me to the “do, re, mi” of the pandemic, as the World Health Organization reported that cost is a major reason that vaccines might not get to Palestine and some of the poorer countries until 2024.That’s more than three years and who knows how many more deaths away.

A global consortium of poor nations is working with the World Health Organization, the United Nations and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to help provide the vaccine but the extent of the aid and speed of supplying the vaccines are serious impediments. Another major hope comes from something called the COVAX alliance, a public-private partnership that is working to secure fair access to COVID-19 vaccines for poor countries. The alliance has nearly 2 billion doses, about twice its earlier supply and the first deliveries are due early next year. The alliance is co-led by the GAVI vaccine alliance, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), and aims to to deliver 1.3 billion doses of approved vaccines next year to 92 eligible low- and middle-income economies.

And as far as “We are all connected,” a worldwide effort is necessary because if the majority of people in the world are unprotected, the virus will be free to continue to run rampant. If one person is in danger, we all are in danger. We are all part of the same planet, if one drowns, we all drown. But too many wealthy nations continue to delay.

While I’m on the subject of do, re, mi, why does Fruity Rudy get to jump to the head of the class for treatment? It is the “do” and if you don’t have the “do” you don’t get the treatment, it’s that simple.



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