SERBIA: THE MOST RECKLESS COUNTRY

AMONG HIGHEST COVID INFECTIONS IN THE WORLD

When the Covid vaccinations began earlier this year, Serbia was the best in Europe and one of the highest vaccinated countries in the world. Now Covid is raging in Serbia while vaccinations seem to have slowed. As a result, Serbia is now the worst country in terms of the anti-vaxxer index.

The Truth in Media defines this index as “New Cases/M” over “Vaccinated/100” statistics – as of Sep 19, 2021 – see the charts below.

What makes Serbia the worst country? First and foremost, recklessness and ignorance of the anti-vaxxers. But there’s also a possibility that the Chinese vaccines, which are the most prevalent in Serbia, may not be as effective as the American Pfizer or Moderna (see “They Relied on Chinese Vaccines. Now They’re Battling Outbreaks, ” June 22, 2021).

“Examples from several countries suggest that the Chinese vaccines may not be very effective at preventing the spread of the virus, particularly the new variants. The experiences of those countries lay bare a harsh reality facing a postpandemic world: The degree of recovery may depend on which vaccines governments give to their people,” writes the New York Times.

New York Times article – June 22, 2021.

FALSE IDOLS

Serbia’s Novak Djokovic speaks at a press conference, June 19, 2020, in Zadar, Croatia

In April 2020, the world’s top tennis player, Novak Djokovic, who has the status of a national hero in Serbia, said he may not return to the sport if he’s required to take a COVID-19 vaccine. Two months later, he and scores of other tennis players and spectators also got the virus in a tournament he had organizes in spite of Covid restrictions.

Whereupon Djokovic issued an apology. “I am so deeply sorry our tournament has caused harm,” he said in a statement.

Djokovic’s illness and repentance has failed to convince the masses in Serbia to hurry up and get vaccinated. In April of this year, the anti-vaxxers mocked Covid by reviving a medieval fresco Danse Macabre (“Dance of Death”) as their statement of defiance and escapism.

Dance of Death by Ivan from Kastav (replica of 15th-century fresco; National Gallery of Slovenia)

Serbian anti-vaxxers revive the medieval ‘Danse Macabre,’ while pandemic deaths rise

YOUNG AND STUPID

So long as ignorance and obtuseness are winning, as is especially true of young Serbians, there is little chance of a rapid pandemic recovery in this country.

For instance, authorities in the city of Kragujevac were alarmed that no students came to be vaccinated at the university clinic in March. On the other hand, police had to intervene on the campus of Belgrade university to break up an open-air party organized around watching a football match via video beam.

Anti-vaxxers also mock the deadly disease with poems like this.

“Neće Gara da primi vakcinu,
ne veruje u svetsku medicinu,
neće Gara da primi vakcinu,
ona bocu prima na Soko’cu.”

Gara doesn’t want the vaccine,
she doesn’t trust in world medicine,
Gara doesn’t want the vaccine,
she wants a bottle [of alcohol] in Sokolac.

COVID INFECTIONS AND DEATHS SOAR

In the aftermath of such irresponsible behavior, and the free-for-all summer vacations, the new daily Covid infections in Serbia soared to almost 8,000, making Serbia one of the worst countries in the world in that deadly category.

As a result, on September 13, the United States put Serbia on a “no travel” list for Americans, even as it removed travel restrictions from other European countries.

ISRAEL PUZZLE: A HIGHLY VACCINATED COUNTRY WITH HIGH COVID INFECTIONS

The Covid situation in Israel is a puzzle.

Israel has one of the highest Covid vaccination rates in the world, having fully vaccinated 78% of people 12 years and over.

Yet there has been a resurgence of Covid cases since restrictions were lifted in June.

So, why are cases surging in Israel? And what can Australia learn from it, particularly as Sydney charts its path out of the pandemic? Here’s what the London Guardian said about that.

  • The Delta variant has some ability to escape the protection offered by vaccines, and the protection seems to wane a bit over time after two doses.
  • Premature lifting of restrictions.
  • The herd immunity threshold required for Delta is higher, likely over 80% of the whole population, not the 60% achieved in Israel.
  • Over 70% of infections with Delta arise from asymptomatic transmission, which makes it harder to control.
  • Cases of Delta breakthrough infection in vaccinated people can be as infectious as in unvaccinated people (though viral load declines faster in vaccinated people).

Still, for this writer anyway, such explanations don’t cut muster. Because the same Delta variant has been present in many other countries and the states in the US with far lesser rate of resurgence. And in India, where this varian started in April, it has practically disappeared even though India is a poorly vaccinated country, with just 22 per 100 people.

Clearly, logic seems to be of little value when it comes to Covid. But one thing is for sure – the unvaccinated people are of an order of magnitude greater risk of infection than the fully vaccinated individuals.

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