Bridget Brink is the U.S. Ambassador to Slovakia.
Covid-19. For the past 18 months, it has been with us for every hour of every day. It has changed our lives overnight: our homes have become our offices, our in-person contact has become virtual, our hugs have become elbow taps. And heart-wrenchingly, it has taken our family and friends.
More than four million lives have been lost due to this pandemic. Four million grandmothers, grandfathers, moms, dads, sisters, brothers, friends, neighbours, and children.
It is a tragedy that is not yet over.
Unfortunately, disinformation has increased vaccine doubt in Slovakia and around the world, causing people to reject science-based evidence. With the Delta variant, Covid-19 deaths are rising steadily for the first time in months, and those most affected are people who have not – by choice or by circumstance – gotten vaccinated. It is to the point that experts are now calling this the “pandemic of the unvaccinated.”
And it’s not only the human cost, which in itself is staggering. The economic cost is also enormous. Small businesses, lower-wage employees, and marginalised communities have been hit particularly hard. Some estimates report the global economy lost 2.4 trillion dollars in the tourism sector alone in 2020. The Covid-19 global recession is the deepest since the end of World War II; in financial terms, the world economy contracted 3.5 percent, which is almost twice as much loss as we expected to gain. This, too, has a human cost.
In America, we’ve had over 620,000 deaths and estimated economic losses of trillions of dollars. Slovakia has also lost 12,500 people and billions in the economy. It is almost too much to bear.
Growing up, World War II, in which both my grandfathers fought, was an anchor point for my family. It was about fighting evil. It was about freedom. It was about serving one's country and sacrificing for the greater good to defeat a common enemy.
Covid-19 is the fight of our generation. It requires sacrifice. It requires patience. And yes, it also requires patriotism – to take steps that will help others be safe, especially our children and our vulnerable populations. This is what we do when we see our community above ourselves.
Since the early days of Covid-19, we’ve been hoping for a miracle – something to restore our lives and bring about a new, safe normal. It is clear that this is a long war we will fight. But thanks to scientists and countless others, we have something that is scientifically proven to save lives – vaccines.
By getting a vaccine, you are protecting your health and the health of your loved ones.
And you are also helping the woman you buy your coffee from in the morning keep her job and pay her rent. You’re helping your local hairdresser, barber, and waitress keep their jobs and sustain their small businesses. You are ensuring your children - and the children around you – are able to attend school in person because schools can stay open. You are protecting your community.
I am vaccinated, thanks to the Slovak government.
This fight is above politics
Here are the facts: Large clinical studies cited by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that the Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson/ Janssen (J&J) vaccines are over 85 percent effective in preventing severe cases of Covid-19, which heavily reduces hospitalisation rates and deaths. The mRNA vaccines produced by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna reduce the risk of infection by most variants by 90 percent for people who have received two doses. And according to the European Medicines Agency, newer studies are showing that these vaccines protect against severe infection by the Delta variant.
Vaccines save lives.
We know that no one is safe until everyone is safe. That is why the United States has donated over 110 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines to over 60 countries. These doses are just the beginning of America’s efforts. In addition to making doses available from the U.S. domestic supply, President Biden announced in June that the United States will provide 500 million Pfizer doses to Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, for distribution via COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access (COVAX) to almost 100 low- and middle-income economies and eight additional African Union countries, making the U.S. the single-largest vaccine donor in the world.
If you’re vaccinated already, thank you. If you have doubts or concerns and haven’t yet gotten the shot, think about your family, your community, your country.
We are in this fight together. It is above politics. It is above nationality. And it is important that we win it: for our moms and dads, for our kids, and for our future.
Vaccines are the key to winning the fight of our generation.
To learn more about Covid-19 vaccines – and where to get yours - please visit:
Slovakia Against Covid-19: Slovakia against Covid (slovenskoproticovidu.sk)
European Medicines Agency: COVID-19 vaccines: key facts | European Medicines Agency (europa.eu)
Europe Vaccination Information Portal: COVID-19 vaccines (vaccination-info.eu)
U.S. Centers for Disease Control: Vaccines for COVID-19 | CDC
24. Aug 2021 at 15:22 | Bridget Brink