We were too busy bragging, so we didn’t see death come knocking

According to BBC Thai, there’s a family of three elderly ladies, aged 84, 75, and 70. They contracted COVID-19 and waited too long for the ambulance to arrive. On 22 April, the oldest passed away. On 23 April, the ambulance arrived.

Prachachart reported a man who went on Facebook Live on 20 April to describe his illnesses from COVID-19. He said he tried contacting hospitals, but no one came for him. He tried the government hotline, no one answered. The next day, a relative posted on his Facebook Page that he had passed away.

These are just two of many more tragic stories.

This is not to blame hospitals or health personnel. They are doing the best they can. This is to blame the lack of hospital beds and vaccines caused by Thailand’s lack of planning and preparedness for the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. The responsibility lies with the national leaders.

For too long, we rested on our laurels as a country with a low number of infections. The strategy of transfer technology from Astra-Zeneca was good for the long term. But betting on one horse and June vaccination meant we failed to anticipate the third or even the second wave. We were too busy hailing ourselves a success story.

So now, we scramble for vaccines and discuss a further lockdown.

Currently, among the most sought-after vaccines are Pfizer and Moderna. Not everyone knows this, but Pfizer has been operating in Thailand since 1958. That’s 63 years.

Inside Thailand is a news talk show hosted by two of Thailand’s leading journalists, Amornrat Mahitthirook and Danai Akemahasawasdi. On the 9 January 2021 episode, the hosts revealed that Pfizer Thailand approached the Health Ministry three times with an offer of 13 million doses at a “special rate.” But the government rejected the offer because the rate was “too expensive,” and Pfizer “didn’t have the Thai FDA approval.”

Three months gap in between, if the government has assisted in getting Pfizer approved and paid the rate, we might have 13 million doses ready to fight the third wave.

As things turn out, we now rush to fast-track and lift FDA red tapes and are willing to pay any price just to get Pfizer for the Thai people. At least that’s what the leaders said they are doing.

Meanwhile, we fold cardboard boxes to make hospital beds. Hotline staffs work with pens and papers, no computers.

Why? Because we thought we were home free, with the road to victory paved by lavenders. Then reality hits. We did not anticipate, plan, or prepare, which is the responsibility of leadership.

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