I was just reading about the DRC (aka the Congo) on StrategyPage, to find out the latest news there. Yup. the usual. An attempted kidnapping that killed an Italian official. War. Mahem. A new railroad that might help matters in the long run. A few new cases of Ebola virus in North Kivu province mining town.
And then this:
February 19, 2021: In northeast Congo (Ituri province) Congolese health officials believe that over the past three months at least 31 have died from a bubonic plague outbreak. Over 520 cases have been confirmed...
The two variants are pneumonic (spread via air from a plague victim or has the plague in their lungs) and septicemic (catching plague from exposure to the blood of a plague patient). Before the mid-20th century Bubonic plague was still a major killer, but was one of the many diseases treatable with antibiotics, developed in Britain just before World War II.
For later reading: The Bubonic plague epidemics (Justinian Plague and the Black Death) that affected Europe also were a major cause of death in Africa. LINK
Cases of the plague pop up now and then in a lot of places: I remember reading that China had a few cases last year.
And although I never treated any cases, the docs in the IHS Navajo area see a couple cases a year, and they have an extensive prevention program. This old articleis about cases there in the recent past and the response of the IHS to control it...
Tony Hillerman's novel The First Eagle, describes the prevention program (accurate when I worked a short time near there in the 1970s, but it could be out of date by now). and this recent article discusses how a nearby prairie dog colony might stop the opening of a camp ground.
the real problem in the Navajo area is a big outbreak of Covid virus: Starting when a superspreader attended a church revival. The population is at risk, not just because of genetic variability but because of the high rate of diabetes and the fact that people live in multigenerational homes. The Navajo Times report that they are busy giving out the vaccine so hopefully things will settle down soon.
Speaking of vaccines:
For some reason, the Philippines, which has the largest number of cases in the area, has been the last one giving out the vaccine to it's own people. Officially that is (This AlJ article says that the big shots and military already got their shots, and that article notes that China gave 100 thousand of their citizens the vaccine illegally last year). Those doses had been smuggled in illegally, so hints that some people might also start smuggling in vaccine doses for their areas is probably already being done... and hey, the smugglers are quite efficient here. so why not.
Stories in January said that some mayors were already arranging to import vaccine for their areas ..,LINK2 but the news a few days ago just said they are still working on it.
The Chinese vaccine (50 percent efficient) is now being given out in Manila to high risk and caregivers etc.
why so slow? (The government official in charge just didn't get around to signing the paper work (liability protection?), so the Pfizer vaccine that the USA arranged to be sent to use in January couldn't be legally sent here, and for some reason the other vaccines haven't been bought either. On the other hand, the Sinovax company has been known to bribe people, but hey, bribery is illegal here in the Philippines.)
Here the social media is full of anti vax propaganda (after the Dengue vaccine scandal, that is not surprising, but one does wonder how many are Chinese bots who post such stuff all over the world)...
, so a lot of people say they will refuse the shot (but one doubts that, because poverty...why worry about a vaccine that might kill a few folks when your kids are hungry?_). On the other hand, the latest news says most Pinoys won't get the vaccine until next year.
I am not sure how those of us who are ex pats (US citizens living here, working, retirees or like myself with a local spouse) or Balikbayans (returning Filipinos with US citizenship like my late husband and his relatives) will be given the vaccine: Too early to tell. But one does wonder if the US government is worried about us.
The q and a on the US Embassy in Egypt has more information about the problem.
Q: Given assurances by both President Trump and President-Elect Biden that access to the vaccine for all Americans will be their priority, why isn’t the State Department ensuring U.S. citizens abroad get vaccinated? Why are you vaccinating your own personnel but not private Americans? A: The Department of State does not provide direct medical care to private U.S. citizens abroad. We are committed to providing all possible consular assistance to U.S. citizens in need overseas, including by providing information on local medical resources when appropriate.
China ignored the law and gave all of their citizens working here their vaccine illegally late last year, but when I asked our local "Democrats Abroad" organization if the US government planned to do the same for us, I was told
"according to information I have gathered from multilateral developmental banks and companies here, there's not much they can do until the high priority people like health care workers get vaccinated".
In other words, they are following the rules.
One is tempted to say: Hey if China can vaccinate their own folks here, why can't the USA bribe China to give some vaccine to US citizens here by asking Duterte's government for a waiver? (an alternative would be a gift to the right official here, but hey, that wouldn't work because as we all know, Filipino officials never take bribes)...
So in the meanwhile, I guess I'll just have to stay inside for a couple more months.
Update....this article might explain why the Philippine government did not sign papers for Pfizer...
Yes it was about liability lawsuits, and the company insisting poor countries pledge their assets to cover the cost.
Heads up from the crazy Jeremiah, Ann Barnhardt, who is about as antivax as they come but does tend to dig up corruption in the church, big business, and the stock market.