For many the COVID-19 pandemic revealed our true selves, and, in many cases, we proved to be selfish and self-centered. The desire to live and the fear of death can be overwhelming, and for those who have responsibility for others, the drive to protect one’s own is a powerful instinct.

With the passage of time and the consecutive waves of COVID, it should now be clear that the world is in a global war that requires coordination and collaboration between countries. Otherwise, this war might become protracted despite the United States winning most of its battles.

At the beginning of the pandemic the success of preventative measures was measured in how many tests we could provide, then it was how many vaccinations we provided per day to our population – yes, our population. Now, we are not sure what else to do because, on paper, we have achieved most of our goals.

Many would say there is already cooperation and coordination through the World Health Organization, et al., yet facts on the ground would prove them wrong. Case in point: the many doses of vaccines that were allowed to be wasted in storage in Western countries instead of being shared with regions of the world with low vaccination rates. South Africa led the world in vaccination testing by allowing Europeans to test their vaccines in their communities. More than a year later, only 25 percent of its citizens are fully vaccinated. It is not surprising that South Africa is now one of the first places to detect the presence of the omicron variant, which will keep our Groundhog Day COVID saga going for a little longer.

Thus far we were focused on our own immediate communities to get them through COVID. We were not focused on the world at large because we had to help ourselves before we could help others. Sure, we worried about the rest of the world, and we might even have tweeted about it or liked a Facebook post or two, but in reality we took taking care of ourselves to a selfish level and we are now paying the price for that with omicron.

The omicron variant should be a wake-up call to well-vaccinated countries, like ours, that the ultimate goal is the elimination of large-scale virus spread anywhere in the world, not just in the United States or Europe.


The world, not the country, should be the goal because in the 21st century, we are one global community, with individuals moving from one end to the other within hours or days. We cannot make up for our lack of global planning with useless travel bans, which are a political exercise, as in most cases the horse is already out of the barn.

By the time a variant is identified and hits the news, chances are it has already spread in most communities at some level.

Omicron should trigger a shift of mindset in the United States and Europe to start large-scale allocation of resources toward vaccinating the rest of the world. This would not be an altruistic exercise; it would be in our own self-interest, but two steps removed from the immediate.

As long as the COVID virus has room to spread its wings in any community it will keep existing at a pandemic level. We can snuff it to a seasonal endemic level, like the flu, if we can get more countries immunized.

The unvaccinated parts of the world are now the wide-open back door for the United States and no travel ban will protect us from new variants that require only one case to start the spread. The only thing that can protect us is an outwardly unselfish act of caring for others who are less fortunate than us, and in doing so we will manage to remain as selfish as our hearts desire.

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