英文

Editorial:Publicity campaigns are key to boosting inoculation rates

【明報專訊】The COVID-19 virus continues to wreak havoc on the world in its mutant forms. Many countries have seen a rebound of cases. China is one of the most successful countries in controlling the pandemic, and is steadily advancing its vaccination programme. As it has already administered 1.4 billion doses, it is believed that a vaccination rate of 70% or 80% can soon be reached.

COVID-19 variants such as the Delta variant are highly transmissible, and this is the main reason why cases have rebounded so rapidly in different countries. China is struggling to prevent imported cases. The recent situation in Guangdong has brought uneasiness to the Pearl River Delta area, with the number of medium- and high-risk areas rising to more than ten at one point. In those regions that were under lockdown, economic activities were brought to a halt, and there were many restrictions on citizens' movements. In many cities, all citizens are required to get tested twice. The social cost of pandemic restrictions is very high.

Vaccination is the fastest, least risky, and most painless way for lives to return to normal. Different countries are doing everything possible to promote vaccination. In many countries with sufficient vaccine supplies, the vaccination rates are approaching or have already reached 50%. But these rates have stagnated after reaching a certain level and have encountered difficulties in going further. After all, COVID-19 is a new matter, and vaccines have been developed in a rush without the established procedure of repeated trials being followed. They were authorised for emergency use. Many people are sceptical about the effectiveness of vaccines. Elderly people with chronic diseases, in particular, are concerned about the side effects of vaccines. Some groups of people refuse to get vaccinated because of trust issues with the government or political allegiances.

The rebound of COVID-19 cases has caused many people who were originally doubtful about vaccines to change their attitudes. Germany, France, and the US were the countries with the largest proportions of people rejecting vaccination. After the emergence of the Delta variant, the rejection rates have dropped. Among those who have changed their minds to get vaccinated, some have done so after weighing up the two risks, i.e. the risk of allergic reactions to vaccines and the risk of getting infected with the COVID-19 virus. For those who are dead set against vaccines, no incentive measures will be effective. French President Emmanuel Macron announced last week that the government would enact laws to require people to get vaccinated in order to use public transportation, enter cinemas, and go to restaurants. More than 100,000 people took part in demonstrations against the move over the weekend.

The pandemic has brought about inestimable damage. If the pandemic cannot be controlled, the damage will be immeasurable. If public venues cannot open their doors to welcome customers or serve the public, a social cost will be incurred. It is not just the government that should foot the bill — citizens have their responsibilities too. That is why they are required to wear a mask and adhere to all kinds of pandemic restrictions. Getting vaccinated is a social responsibility of citizens.

Preventing and controlling the pandemic comes with national efforts. Every citizen has to play their part. However, by introducing mandatory measures, the government will only make people doubtful about them. A government should assume greater responsibility in persuading its people to actively comply with anti-pandemic measures. As the fight against the pandemic has become a normalised affair, the key lies with strengthening publicity campaigns and education.

明報│社評 ̷̷ 2021.07.19 ̷

提高接種率依靠宣傳

強制行政手段是懶政

新冠病毒以變種的形態繼續肆虐全球,很多國家都出現疫情反彈。中國是疫情控制最好的國家之一,正在穩步推進疫苗接種,目前已經接種14億劑次,相信很快會達到七成或八成接種率。

Delta等變種毒株傳播力強,迅速成為各國疫情反彈的主要原因,中國對外防輸入防不勝防,廣東最近的疫情令珠三角地區雞犬不寧,中高風險地區一度達到10多個,封鎖區內經濟停頓,居民出行諸多限制,很多城市要全民檢測兩次,防疫的社會成本十分高昂。

接種疫苗是回復常態最快速、最低風險、無痛的途徑,各國都在千方百計推廣疫苗接種,很多疫苗供應充足的國家,接種率已經接近或達到一半,但到了某一比率之後呈現疲軟狀態,難以再上一台階,因為新冠病毒是新鮮事,疫苗也是趕製而成,而且並非按照常規的反覆試驗成效,只是以緊急使用的方式推出,很多人質疑疫苗的效果,特別是有慢性疾病的長者,擔憂疫苗的副作用,也有部分群體是基於對政府的信任和政治認同,而拒絕接種疫苗。

疫情反彈令很多原來有疑慮的人改變態度,德國、法國和美國是相對來說拒絕接種率最大比例的國家,但在Delta出現後,拒絕率也有所回落。這些「回心轉意」接種疫苗的人當中,可能是根據接種疫苗反應與感染機率兩種風險,衡量兩害選其輕的結果。那些執意抗拒的人,任何鼓勵措施也難以見效。法國總統馬克龍上周宣布,將會立法要求乘坐公共交通工具、進入電影院和餐廳必須接種疫苗,周末引發10多萬人示威。

疫情已經帶來的損失,無從估計,如果防控不得力,將會帶來的損失,更是無可估量。公共場所無法開門迎客或者服務大眾,是有社會成本的,而為此埋單的,不應該只是政府,民眾也有責任,所以要求大家要戴口罩及遵守各種防疫措施,而接種疫苗是民眾的社會責任。

防控疫情是全國大局,人人有責,但強制執行反而會令人增添疑慮,政府為民施政更大的責任,是說服民眾主動積極配合防疫政策,防疫進入常態化,關鍵還需要加強宣傳教育。

■Glossary 生字

stagnate : to stop developing or making progress

sceptical : having doubts that a claim or statement is true or that sth will happen

dead set against sth : completely opposed to sth

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