How rich/western countries let a pandemic go endemic
It's over. The pandemic has gone endemic. We're stuck with this shit forever. COVID-19 has mutated around all defenses and is becoming another neglected tropical disease. We simply cannot eliminate it now, it's too far gone. Our children, our grandchildren will forever live with some form of COVID-19.
The tragedy is that we didn't just lose. Rich/western countries sold us all out. This isn't really a tragedy at all. It's a crime.
How It Could Have Been
It didn't have to be this way.
Imagine if every country reacted like China, completely eliminating the disease? In fact, many countries did. Places like Taiwan, Mongolia, New Zealand, Rwanda, Vietnam, and Sri Lanka completely crushed their first wave. Many places reduced it. Elimination or at least reduction was possible using basic public health tools and PCR testing, you didn't even have to be rich.
Then imagine that vaccines and vaccine technology were shared, as the WHO recommended. Imagine if 20% of people across the world were vaccinated first, in a strategic way, putting the most vulnerable and first-responders first. This is exactly what places like China, Russia, and India did; shared vaccines and even helped set up factories. Then imagine that cheaper, faster, better and easier mRNA technology was deployed all over the world, with factories on every continent churning out vaccines. Instead of negotiations and pledges, we could have had billions of shots in arms right now.
These two efforts together—basic public health and vaccines—would have A) reduced initial cases B) reduced variants. This would have made it possible to beat the disease. However—as you may have noticed—this did not happen. This is what could have been.