Photo taken on Dec. 22, 2020 shows the production line of the Russian "Sputnik V" vaccine at a pharmaceutical plant in the Karaganda Region of Kazakhstan. (Photo by Kalizhan Ospanov/Xinhua)
-Grappling with these new variants and the second wave of infections that is still in full swing, the world community in the first place should not allow itself to be consumed by panic or fear.
-Instead, it needs to continue to employ the power of science and common sense to overcome fear and irrationality.
by Xinhua writer Gao Wencheng
BEIJING, Dec. 24 (Xinhua) -- With the advent of COVID-19 vaccines in many parts of the world, it seems that the struggling human race is finally beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel of the raging pandemic.
Yet some new variants of the coronavirus recently detected in Britain and South Africa have sounded an alarm that the tunnel might be longer and darker than expected.
Immediately, a string of governments, notably those in Europe, have suspended trains and flights to and from Britain, announced new quarantine measures and shut down borders. British officials claimed that one new variant appears to be spreading 70 percent faster than other types. All of a sudden, it seems that the the grim outbreak is looming large again.
A woman wearing a face mask stands on a street in London, Britain, on Dec. 21, 2020. (Xinhua/Han Yan)
Grappling with these new variants and the second wave of infections that is still in full swing, the world community in the first place should not allow itself to be consumed by panic or fear. Instead, it needs to continue to employ the power of science and common sense to overcome fear and irrationality.
What is soothing is that health experts have said the strain detected in Britain is not believed to be more deadly. Meanwhile, officials from the World Health Organization said they were told there has so far been no evidence that the new virus strain would make the current vaccines less effective.
One key lesson the human race has learned these past months is that the only way to defeat this cunning virus is for countries worldwide to take rigorous and science-based measures and work together as closely as they can.
With Christmas and New Year's Day arriving, governments across Europe and in parts of Asia have tightened coronavirus-containment measures, restricted shopping and social gathering, and pleaded with their citizens to postpone travels and stay at home.
A man wearing a face mask walks past mannequins with masks on in a shopping window in London, Britain, on Dec. 21, 2020. (Xinhua/Han Yan)
It is hardly surprising that those moves are drawing criticism considering the long-held traditions of family-gathering at this moment of a year, not least when many family members have not been able to meet each other since the beginning of this highly unusual year.
Yet it is critical that people follow these public health advice like wearing a mask, practicing social distancing and limiting large gatherings for the sake of the health of their families and friends so as to help minimize the possibility of catastrophic post-holiday coronavirus surge. It is a worthy and admirable sacrifice to make.
Apart from the already imposed travel bans, governments should continue to stay on high alert and join hands to curb the virus's cross-border spread by strengthening early warning and information sharing, and enhancing entry screening and quarantine at border crossings.
The good news is that the world is now in a better position to contain the outbreak than months ago when it has almost zero knowledge of this deadly pathogen despite the ever-multiplying COVID-19 caseload and death toll worldwide.
An Israeli medical worker receives a COVID-19 vaccine at the Sourasky Medical Center in Tel Aviv, Israel, Dec. 20, 2020. (Tomer Neuberg/JINI via Xinhua)
As vaccination programs are unfolding worldwide and more vaccine candidates are being tested or approved, a wall of protection fencing off the virus is under construction even though it will take some time.
Also, the hard-earned experience of governments and medical communities in identifying and curing the infected as well as tracing and heading off chains of infections will be an invaluable asset to eliminating the virus.
The latest virus mutation is yet another chilling reminder that the humankind must be prepared for a prolonged struggle, but the world community should never lose faith. So long as countries worldwide show solidarity, step up anti-pandemic cooperation and build a community of health for us all, it is just a matter of time before mankind vanquishes the pathogen. ■