Last week was a momentous week! The business community looked in astonishment at how events snowballed and effectively marked the beginning of the end of the pandemic. 

To date, the pandemic and public health policies/restrictions have been the single biggest threat to business, jobs and the economy. Public health restrictions have been eating away at business confidence and the appetite to invest; not to mention the government’s (in)ability to collect taxes, the country’s ballooning debt and workplace discrimination and bullying. 

However, last week, we witnessed an earthquake of events which to my mind radically changed the whole game and effectively kick-started the end of the pandemic. This clearly is excellent news for the economic recovery. 

First, the WHO Technical Advisory Group on COVID-19 Vaccine Composition (TAG-Co-VAC), on January 11, 2022, stated that current vaccines need to be ‘updated’ because they are no longer based on ‘…strains that are genetically and antigenically close to the circulating SARS-CoV-2 variant(s)...' and that ‘…the composition of current COVID-19 vaccines may need to be updated, to ensure that COVID-19 vaccines continue to provide WHO recommended levels of protection against infection and disease…’. In fact, WHO further stated: ‘A vaccination strategy based on repeated booster doses of the original vaccine composition is unlikely to be appropriate or sustainable.’

Second, Marco Cavaleri, Head of Vaccine Strategy at the European Medicines Agency (EMA), issued a warning that too many doses of COVID-19 vaccines could weaken the body’s immune system, rendering the extra shots ineffective.

He said: ‘While use of additional boosters can be part of contingency plans, repeated vaccinations within short intervals would not represent a sustainable long-term strategy.’ In fact, some medical/scientific research now asserts that vaccine effectiveness against Omicron is significantly reduced due to ‘immune evasiveness’. 

Third, the former chairman of the UK’s Vaccine Taskforce, Clive Dix, declared that ‘…the vaccine is less and less effective at stoping (the mild] Omicron strain’, and that being the case, ‘…it is [now] pointless trying to stop the infection’ which is becoming endemic.

He also said that mass population vaccinations should soon stop and a new type of strategy was required which targeted the vulnerable only. In fact, the UK government is expected to permanently lift most public health restrictions on 26 January, particularly the controversial ‘COVID passports.

The Brits believe that the 23 million people that were infected with Omicron in recent weeks have helped the country build an immunity wall which together with the vaccine means herd immunity is being achieved. 

Fourth, the local opposition party, the Nationalist Party, issued on January 13 a strong statement against mandatory vaccination stating that this is excessive and discriminatory. In fact, the opposition suggested that such decisions are private medical decisions and should not be imposed by the state which is in sync with EU Regulation 2361 of 2021 which states: 

“7.3.1. Ensure that citizens are informed that the vaccination is not mandatory and that no one is under political, social or other pressure to be vaccinated if they do not wish to do so;

7.3.2. Ensure that no one is discriminated against for not having been vaccinated due to possible health risks or not wanting to be vaccinated” 

Fifth, Prime Minister Robert Abela, presumably in response to all the above, declared on January 14 that he wants to ‘…move beyond quasi-normality and into full normality…[and] reach a position where we can remove all restrictions…"

My reading of this bombshell of a statement is that he recognises that current public health guidance is out of date and no longer suitable for a highly vaccinated population or for dealing with Omicron.

I think the prime minister has let the minister of health take the lead throughout the pandemic but as the country reaches herd immunity, Robert Abela is finally ready to take back complete control of running this country. 

With this in mind, it is now necessary for the government to publish the ‘Post-COVID Recovery Plan’ which declares the pandemic over, given that the virus is becoming endemic and the population has reached a level of herd immunity.

This in turn means that the free market can be allowed to operate with the laws and forces of demand and supply, free from any public health restrictions or constraints. As soon as this happens, companies can take or re-activate investment decisions that have perhaps been shelved during the pandemic, plan for growth, create new jobs, increase their risk appetite and workers everywhere can return to a workplace free of workplace bullying or discrimination.

In so doing, the government can start to restore stability, confidence and certainty, all key ingredients for our economic recovery and the resuscitation of democracy and the free market. 

Last week, make no mistake, was huge; last week was literally a game-changing moment.  

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