Letters to the Editor, Opinion

Dec. 18 letters to the editor

Respond to other global issues like we did COVID

Rather than merely lamenting the innumerable ways our lives have changed during the COVID-19 pandemic, many people have chosen to focus on the unforeseen opportunities that have brightened these dark times.  This includes experiencing the kindness of strangers, building stronger community networks and rediscovering the peace of nature.  Turning points such as these give us hope for a better future. 

In the face of a grim daily reality, we now have a new reason to hope in the form of a vaccine. There are still hurdles ahead, but the swiftness with which we have reached this point is incredible and signals that an end of this initial ordeal is in sight.  Above all, it serves as a reminder that when resources and political will align, we can accomplish extraordinary things. 

Now is the time to dream big.  If we can develop and begin distribution of a lifesaving vaccine within a year of a pandemic, what can stop us from taking on any other global health challenge in a similar timeframe?  We have the ability and the momentum to recast problems once seen as inevitable as our next great collective success story. 

At a time when food insecurity has dramatically increased throughout the world, it is not outlandish to think that we can end global hunger.  As rates of infectious diseases soar, it is not foolish to believe in the eradication of polio or tuberculosis or HIV/AIDS. 

These goals are achievable with strong political leadership.  I encourage Sens. Capito and Manchin, along with Rep. McKinley, to support funding for a global response to the pandemic, so that when we are able to look back on this time, we can mark it as yet another turning point toward extraordinary possibilities.

Joanna DiStefano

Why have poorer nations fared better than U.S.?

President-elect Joe Biden has suggested that he wishes to rejoin the World Health Organization. As a condition of the rejoin, Biden should ask the WHO to determine why COVID deaths are so much lower in Africa than in Europe or the America’s.

According to Johns Hopkins, Belgium has 155 deaths per 100,000 while Spain, the UK, France, Italy and the U.S. range between 95 and 105 deaths per 100,000. However, most African countries have a COVID-19 rate around 1.

The largest country in Africa, Nigeria, has a COVID-19 rate under 1 (.60).

Nigeria has a population of 208 million with 14 million living in Lagos.

By contrast, California has a population of 40 million with 12 million living in L.A. The population density in Nigeria is twice as high as California. Yet California has registered 21,046 COVID-19 deaths while Nigeria has registered but 1,194 deaths. West Virginia has registered 1,012 deaths, at the time of this writing.

The population of Nigeria does not mask up. The slums of Lagos do not have fresh water for hand-washing. There is no social distancing in the slums. Nigeria has 115 times the population of West Virginia but only tests 2,500 people a day — or half the number West Virginia tests.

Nigeria does not have adequate medical facilities to treat its most vulnerable. California has 7,345 ICU beds for its 40 million residents while Nigeria has 350 ICU beds for its 208 million residents.

The U.S. does much to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Nigeria does much less. The COVID-19 death rate in the U.S. is 150 times the death rate in Nigeria — the WHO needs to find out why.

Denny Poluga