International Students and Inoculations: How COVID-19 is Handled Abroad

By: MIKHAIL KULINETS / STAFF WRITER


While people and businesses are fighting against mandatory vaccination in America, thousands of new Coronavirus cases appear every day, in the U.S. and beyond.


COVID-19 still has a grip on the world and, although the death statistics in America seem to be on a gentle decline, it does not seem to be going this way in other countries.


We asked some of our fellow LIU students who are internationally based about the current situation of COVID-19 in their home countries.


Personally, although I have lived in America for the past four years, I am originally from Russia and despite not being there, I have heard updates on the COVID-19 cases from family and friends.


According to Reuters, Russia is currently facing its peak amount of COVID-19 cases since the beginning of the pandemic, with over 35,000 cases being reported every day and over 400,000 deaths since the start of the pandemic.

A line of ambulances file into a hospital in Russia during the height of the pandemic. (Photo: Anton Vaganov/Reuters)

In 2020, I could imagine that Russians were confused by the pandemic. Due to the stringent nature of the Russian government, it is in our nature to feel skeptical about what the government says, so how can we trust the updates on the virus they provide?


While the country as a whole was not prepared to help everyone, Moscow, the capital, had well-equipped hospitals and managed to control the crisis there. Meanwhile in other parts of Russia, there were lines of medical cars outside and dying patients, waiting their turn for medical attention.


At the beginning of the pandemic, police would patrol the streets and fine those who broke curfew.


The city of Kaliningrad, where I am from, is surrounded by Lithuania and Poland and is separated from the heart of Russia, so when the borders closed, my family couldn’t leave the city and they are still unable to.


Sadly, nobody really wears masks in Russia. As for vaccines: Russia has only Sputnik V and doesn’t provide nationwide vaccines to its people, which is questionable to some Russians. This is likely why only 34% of Russians are vaccinated against COVID-19.


Arsh Parekh, a Business Administration and Finance major, is from India and spoke about the country's situation with the pandemic.


"When COVID-19 first broke out, the government imposed a 24-hour curfew on the whole country and then they just kept extending the end date and it went this way until the summer of 2021," Parekh said.

On October 21, 2021, India celebrated administering 1 billion doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. (Photo: PTI)

Parekh also mentioned the recent healthcare crisis that peaked in May 2021. At one point during the crisis, India had been responsible for more than half of the world's COVID-19 cases. Now however, there has been a significant decline in cases since March and most recently, India celebrated the milestone of administering 1 billion vaccine doses.


“The Indian economy was hit super hard," Parekh said.The country was starting to fall financially, but India is recovering."


Radmir Khodjakhanov, a business and finance major at LIU, is also from Uzbekistan and shared how the country suffered during the early days of the pandemic.

“Uzbekistan was locked down for two to three months right after the coronavirus breakout, back in 2020, and it went until early June," Khodjakhanov said. "I was still in the U.S. at that time, but from what I’ve heard, people weren’t allowed to leave their houses, and a lot of food oriented businesses took some damage and couldn’t recover, while new delivery companies successfully popped up.”


Unlike many other countries, COVID-19 deaths in Uzbekistan have been at an all-time low with a little over a thousand being reported since the beginning of the pandemic.


As for vaccines, Khodjakhanov said that while some people have been skeptical, it seems like there are many who are receiving the vaccine. According to Reuters, Uzbekistan has administered more than 25 million vaccine doses which is enough to have vaccinated about 37.9% of the country's population.


"We got the Russian Sputnik V [vaccine] now and are still waiting for approval for American [vaccines.]" Khodjakhanov said. "Lockdown is not [in effect] anymore and it doesn’t seem to be happening again anytime soon.”


Meanwhile, in Europe, Spain has not suffered a spike in cases since July and the country reached the peak of new cases months before that, in January 2021.

In Spain, a group of healthcare workers gather in hazmat-style suits and don goggles, masks, and gloves. (Photo: AFP)

However, as Spain native and Molecular Biology major Daniel Chocano Fernandez reminds us, Spain was still majorly affected by the pandemic.


“Spain was one of the first countries to be affected by COVID-19. In total, there were around 5 million cases and 87 thousand deaths in Spain. Our government put a lot of restrictions to try to control the pandemic,” Fernandez said.


“At the beginning, we had a strict 4 months of quarantine where all the non-essential industries were closed, but later it got better. There could be only 4 people at the same time in a house. Otherwise, someone had to go for a walk depending on [their] age," Fernandez said.


As for vaccinations in the country, Fernandez said the government is making the vaccination process "very easy and organized." In Spain, over 70 million people have received their vaccinations as of last week.


"A few months ago, the Spanish government took down all the restrictions, because of the promising improvement in data of the country, but I still think that we shouldn’t let our guard down and we should keep doing all we did until now," Fernandez said.


Zoe Watson, a nursing major from Greece, said that the country "took the pandemic veery seriously and shut down completely at the very start."


"You were only allowed to leave your house if you were walking your dog, or going to get groceries and even to do this there was a time limit and you had to text a certain number that you were leaving the house for one of those reasons," Watson said. "This was heavily enforced with officials outside checking to see if everyone outside had sent the text and was out for the right reasons."


In Greece, there are a little more than 3,000 deaths reported every day according to Reuters and only 15,000 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic.


The COVID-19 regulations as of February 2021 included curfew at 6 p.m. and no indoor dining or shopping.


“These regulations were lifted in July, finally allowing indoor dining and shopping, but there was actually no [live] music allowed in restaurants and bars, and you had to remain seated with a maximum of 10 people at your table," Watson said. "Now you need vaccination proof or proof of a negative test to go in any indoor spaces and things are finally starting to open up and feel normal, with masks still mandatory inside."


Itzy Abigail González Rojas, a Molecular Biology from Mexico, shared her experience with COVID-19 in her home country.


“Hospitals are at full capacity with COVID-19 cases, people are dying, we are on orange or yellow levels which means students can go to school, people can go to work to their offices, etc. however It is still mandatory to wear a face mask all the time, but there is people who don’t care and don’t wear it in the streets," Rojas said.


With over 250,000 COVID-19-related deaths and more than 3 million cases since the start of the pandemic, Mexico is struggling.

Rojas seemed pessimistic about the progress of Mexico’s handling of the pandemic.


“Right now in Mexico the severity of COVID-19 is measured in colors: red is serious, orange is medium, and yellow is neutral, and green is good. The secretary of health announces each week the color indicating how each state is doing," Rojas said.


"Mexico City is the state where there is more movement of the economy. Mexico City will never be in the red because that means that you can only do essential activities such as supermarkets, hospitals, etc. So, they don’t want to stop the economy because that would really affect the country," Rojas said.


As the world continues to grapple with vaccine rollout and the formation of new variants of the virus, it seems this pandemic is far from over.

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