It’s Valentines day again. In the Netherlands, we are nearing our one year anniversary with a very toxic partner - Covid19 - which was first detected here on February the 27th. It has been a very difficult relationship that is most likely here to stay. Our seemingly only way to get out of it - vaccines - are not as easy a solution as we thought. First, as part of the EU, it will take longer than we first thought for us to even obtain them. Moreover, even if we do have the vaccines, it is still a monstrous task to vaccinate the population. Britain, which is vaccinating its population at the fastest rate for a big country, won’t be done with people over-50s until May 2021. On top of that, new mutations will always get in the way of that. While the British variant b.1.1.7. doesn’t seem to circumvent the immunity created by vaccines, both the Brazilian and South African variants seem to be able to resist the vaccines’ efficiency.
For residents of the Netherlands, the government’s inability to secure vaccines lead to another consequence; the extending of our curfew until the 2nd of March. The evidence of how much curfew helps is debatable, so it seems more like a desperate measure than a well-thought out plan. The cabinet has also finally started conversations with Red Team and Maurice de Hond whether the current covid strategies are effective.
Now we will travel east to visit a small country in Balkans that is Serbia. As Balkan nations have quickly found out they cannot depend on the EU for receiving vaccines, many have been turning towards Russia’s Sputnik V and China’s Sinopharm for help. Of course, that boosts the countries’ influence in the region. Among the countries which are taking advantage of what they have available is Serbia. The country has inoculated over 10% of its citizens, better than Germany (more than 4%) and of course, the Netherlands (close to 3% of the population). This is an amazing feat for the Serbian prime minister as support for conspiracy theories is high in Serbia and Covid conspiracies are no exception. The Serbian PM has lead by example by getting vaccinated on the 24th of December. Particularly impressive as not only is she successfully pushing against misinformation but she is also the first woman and openly gay person to hold office in Serbia, a traditionally conservative country.
February 13th afternoon saw the ends of the pipe dream that is Trump being impeached this time. He was tried of inciting the memorable riot at the US Capitol. However, the senate couldn’t reach the two thirds majority needed, making Trump the only president to be impeached and acquitted twice. Seven Republicans and 50 Democrats voted to convict the former president; among the Republicans Mitt Romney, who was also the only Republican to do so in the first impeachment trial.
Returning to the Netherlands for more positive news, and even more local to our cozy city of Maastricht, the municipality has agreed on having an outdoor chess board at the Plein 1992. The chess pieces would be stored in a bench next to the board. The board would be about 4x4 meters closer to the Ceramique library. The official opening is set to take place in July of 2021, hopefully, when most of this is behind us.