NORTHUMBRIA - Here in the United Kingdom, one the world’s top ten economic powers, our government was wickedly slow to close our borders against incoming infection.
It then imposed public movement lockdowns after the virus was imported.
As a result more than 127,000 people have already gone to their graves after being hit with Covid-19 and, in January, over 1,000 were dying each day, which was dreadful.
The national lockdown meant most urban people were confined to their home, apart from bringing in food and taking solitary exercise.
However our vaccination program, a glowing star on an otherwise dark horizon, looks likely to save us.
It would be equally good for everyone in Papua New Guinea if it also could establish a similarly efficient vaccination program.
The UK’s national effort began in December and since then over 33 million of its people have been given their first anti-Covid jab and almost 11 million have received their second.
Our population is 68 million and thousands more people are being vaccinated each day.
A key to this success was the government’s appointment of Kate Bingham, a woman with specialist business administration experience, whose sole task was to establish the vaccination program.
Her first priority, working on the principle that it is impossible to vaccinate people unless there is vaccine in the hospital fridge, was to secure enough vaccine.
She began with a stab in the dark by ordering eight different vaccines even though they were still being developed and their effectiveness was unknown.
Her reward was a world first when medically approved deliveries of the Pfizer and Oxford AstraZeneca vaccines began to be distributed in the UK at the end of last year.
The most vulnerable people, the old and unhealthy, were targeted first.
Progress has been good and this month the UK begin to vaccinate 30-40 year olds.
About 65% of those injected so far have been female and 58% male.
Progress has been swift because the talented Ms Bingham has also constructed an efficient vaccine distribution and vaccination service covering all parts of the UK – no matter how remote.
She has been helped by the British people’s familiarity with vaccines because almost everybody here was injected against polio and TB when they were children and there is almost universal acceptance that Covid jabs will be equally effective.
There are idiots in the UK, like in PNG with Madang governor, Peter Yama. They too try to undermine confidence in vaccines but I’m pleased to say they are being shouted down not just by medical specialists but by ordinary people as well.
I had my first AstraZeneca jab on 7 February and have just been told by text message that I should go to my doctor’s surgery at 11.10 tomorrow morning for my second.
This pleases me greatly because this next jab will mean I am unlikely to suffer from even a mild form of Covid if I come in contact with it, and I am also less likely to pass it on to others.
I am also pleased that our lockdown restrictions are being relaxed now that it’s obvious our vaccination program is demonstrating its worth.
There were just 28 Covid in the UK deaths on Wednesday. This is a long way from the 1,000 we suffered in January and the expectation is they will drop further.
Papua New Guineans are already familiar with vaccines and injections. Penicillin was an early godsend and other antibiotics and vaccines, some against tetanus, smallpox and typhus, have been hugely valuable too.
On the back of this, people should have no worries about protecting themselves by being injected against Covid.
This global pandemic is not expected to ease quickly so dangers could lurk for some time yet.
And national economies, along with free international movement, may not recover until every person in the world has had their jab.
This will take time because global demand for vaccine is still outstripping supply - although pressures will begin to ease as international vaccine production gathers momentum in the months ahead.
Some Papua New Guineans may think I’m keen to boast about the UK.
Far from it. Our attempts to establish a national Covid testing and tracing system was a complete disaster with little, if anything, to show after billions of pounds were wasted.
This makes our vaccine success even more important and it is equally important that PNG takes note and puts in place an equally effective vaccination program.