The darkest days before Christmas

This is a merry Christmas for me because, unlike last year, I have been able to get back to Ireland to spend it with my family. But while I ponder what gifts Father Christmas might leave under the tree, it seems that we have not learned the lessons of Christmas past.

As a child I lived with my family in an apartment over my fathers’ newsagents. As a wild Irish child, I often found creative ways to get up to mischief. This predictably got me into trouble with my parents. I recall that one year, at the beginning of Christmas week, Father Christmas left an ominous message on my bedside locker, a giant turnip.

Confused by this symbolic vegetable, I went to my mother for answers. She informed me that it was clearly a warning from the chief resident of the North Pole himself, warning me about my misbehaviour. I made my best efforts to correct myself and, luckily, I managed to get off the naughty list.

Now it seems that all across Europe we are all receiving stark warnings on Christmas week. In the Netherlands, we have re-entered some of the darkest days of COVID lockdown. The same is true across Europe and here in Ireland too. As Omicron threatens to overload our hospitals and ICUs, we find we are forced to close businesses once again and to halt our social lives.

We have allowed greed and profit to withhold the solution to the global problem of COVID, thus allowing it to morph

It’s hard not to feel defeated after all of the effort we have made by getting vaccinated, social distancing, hand sanitising, and so on. It rightly feels like there is little more we could do as individuals. But the answer to our problem lies in the spirit of the Christmas season, giving, and like Father Christmas we must do it on a global scale.

As a global community, we came together massively to publicly fund and develop a life-saving vaccine against COVID. Once developed, we vaccinated ourselves and are now receiving booster doses. Meanwhile, those in less fortunate circumstances and less developed nations often cannot access a single dose, much less two or three.

We have allowed greed and profit to withhold the solution to the global problem of COVID, thus allowing it to morph into Delta, Omicron and more. Thankfully, many activists and governments are working to waive the intellectual property status that allows companies to withhold the vaccine for profit. So, while it may be too late to save this Christmas, we can still behave right for next year.

But then again, the next year it was coal on my locker. Another horrifying variant.

NIALL TORRIS

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