With the Omicron named as variant of concern, seafarers more so cannot be omitted from vaccines
Despite limited information available on the new variant, seafarers pressed on. They remained dedicated to ensure we receive our essentials, which warranted the need to inoculate them without prejudice.
Evading another supply chain collapse
The new variant caused panic to saturate global trade. Moreover, the stigma on different vaccines did not make things easier for the shipping industry. Maritime bodies expressed disappointment at the judgmental views and the blanket refusal to adopt a uniform recognition, which jeopardised the world supply chain. Yet, seafarers in their commitment to keep world trade going, were reduced to make do with different does of vaccines in a combined form just to remain in operation.
Ever since the World Health Organisation (WHO) labelled the Omicron as a variant of concern, at least 56 nations reinstated their travel restrictions. Various transport associations have jointly campaigned for governments to refrain from limiting the freedom of movement of international transport workers. All appealed for heads of state to listen to industry leaders and workers, take collective and decisive actions to support the exhausted global transport workforce during the busy holiday season.
Guy Platten, Secretary General, International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) lamented: “There is a real and legitimate fear that unless coordinated action is taken by world leaders, we will see a return of the crew change crisis where more than 400,000 seafarers were impacted by unnecessarily harsh travel restrictions. Our transport workers have worked tirelessly for the past 2 years to keep the global supply chain moving, and they are at breaking point. December is traditionally a busy time for seafarers returning home to their families, and governments owe them the opportunity to spend that time with their loved ones.”
Stephen Cotton, General Secretary of International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF), concurred: “The same governments that blocked global vaccine access are now the first to lock their borders to keep the Omicron variant out. Instead of pursuing a global solution to this pandemic, their decisions further risk supply chain collapse. It is morally reprehensible, and economically destructive! We need universal access to vaccines now. It is imperative for all of us to tell governments to pave the way so that every country can produce the vaccines needed to end this pandemic.”