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Vaccine fairness is needed around the world

By Jenny Adams

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Happy new year.

It’s been another strange festive season. In our household, as in many, it’s included Covid self-isolation – including, for me as one infected and unwell, seeing in the new year unable to hug anyone at all.

Africa has missed out on Covid vaccines.
Africa has missed out on Covid vaccines.

Personally not the best start to 2022, though I know how lucky we are that the most vulnerable family members didn’t catch it, and that those who did haven’t been too ill.

It hadn’t been the best start to 2021 either - we all went into lockdown. So I did wonder whether we’d got stuck, until reviews of the year reminded me how much happened and what a different place we are in now. (Though obviously no literally different places for me yet, with the rest of the week still to self-isolate!)

You’ll all have notable events from 2021 - personal and newsworthy, sporting and political, local, national and global. Those will have had positive and negative effects, across such a range that I hesitate to offer examples.

Whatever else, the world is different. There was a change in US Presidency. The withdrawal from Afghanistan brought horrific human rights abuses and highlighted the need for people to be given refuge, adding to the global refugee crisis.

Weather disasters and COP26 brought the climate emergency into everyday conversation, hopefully leading to action. I could fill the paper with stories, and my apologies to people and situations too easily neglected.

Of course the coronavirus pandemic continues, but it has changed. Over 2021 most of us in the UK have received three vaccinations, reducing the risk of severe illness, for which I’m very grateful.

Rev Jenny Adams.
Rev Jenny Adams.

Yet much of the world’s population may feel nothing has changed – for example, by Christmas Eve just 8.6 per cent of the population of Africa had been fully vaccinated.

The People’s Vaccine Alliance disclosed that more doses of Covid-19 vaccines were delivered to the EU, UK and United States in the six weeks to Christmas than African countries have received all year.

The virus itself keeps changing where it’s offered the chance, hence our oh-so-transmissible omicron variant. Until we share vaccines and the intellectual property to allow global manufacture and distribution of them we will need to get used to going round the variant loop.

So, despite some appearances, things have changed for better and worse in the past 12 months. I realised that when I took time to reflect on it.

John Dewey said “We do not learn from experience… We learn from reflecting on experience.” It’s not always easy to do that. It takes time, energy and headspace.

It may help to have company, to remind us of events and to listen as we explore experiences. Reviews of news, photographs and social media may prompt us.

Activities such as music, cooking, writing, drawing and walking can give reflective space. Reflection may consciously involve God, or not. What helps you?

It’s another new year, with all its challenges and opportunities. May we all find time, space and support to reflect, so we can learn as we journey into 2022.

  • Jenny Adams is Minister of Duffus, Spynie and Hopeman Church of Scotland.

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