Covid-19 mutation variants have rekindled an old debate, into a new one. We always have vaccine doubters that are conscientiously sure that vaccines are worse than the diseases. Yet, empirical evidence has always proved them wrong since the administration of childhood vaccinations. We had people who blamed childhood vaccines for everything but the disease itself. Vaccines have been blamed for autism, infertility, miscarriages and more.
There used to be a time when many children did not survive because of Mumps, Measles, Rubella to Whooping Cough and Hepatitis B. Smallpox and Polio vaccines saved the world from some of the most deadly and debilitating diseases in the face of resistance based on some fundamental rights. Even more disgusting, the far-right Confederation party in Poland used an Auschwitz-style Nazi banner to protest against vaccination mandate.
While the fear of the worst effect of Covid-19 in Africa has not materialized we cannot be complacent. Africans have other problems apart from combating Covid-19. They already have more than enough to deal with. Though local and traditional medicine many Africans rely on, to cure or arrest similar past waves of diseases, have not been credited. Peer reviews are needed for dosage, purity and efficacy. Local herbs and their inhaled steam worked. Nevertheless, they must be separated from placebo or coincidence.
After all, Nigeria’s Center for Excellence in Osun State detected the Ebola virus locally before Western experts arrived. The same way South Africa detected Covid-19 Omicron mutation before the rest of the world. Most Africans are calling on leaders to develop local vaccines instead of waiting for cold vaccines (without the capacity to freeze them) in the rural areas or that are too close to expiration dates before delivery. The world wants the rich countries to donate more Covid-19 vaccines to developing countries, especially African countries.
Indeed, the Presidents of South Africa, Ghana, Rwanda and others are asking for waiver of intellectual properties so that these vaccines could be locally produced in Africa. But the pharmaceutical companies that depend on Government funding themselves have resisted any attempt to release their know-how to Africans. The same people that blame China for sharing the Coronavirus genome sequencing too late. They all prefer the dependent mentality of finished products that can make them more money from Africa as usual.
We cannot blame Africans if they want technology transfer or establishment of local supply laboratories for immediate use of vaccines. But we must blame poor decision makers that prefer to pay for ready-made vaccines when it would be cheaper and more efficient to make them at home as India, China and Russia did. If the rich countries refuse, buy their products, break them down, adapt and build to local environmental mutations.
Moreover, some social media spread disinformation that is not easy for the usual health education to combat. It has to be countered forcefully by their counterparts in the public media. Health Education and Information used facts to educate. Disinformation in social media is intentional mischaracterization with attractive tricks to sell and generate the maximum number of traffic for advertisements.
Research scientists are there to find the difference between coincidence and the real cause of diseases. Most of the misinformed skeptics of vaccines cannot tell one from the other. Of course, there were unscrupulous scientists, especially those that exploit the worst part of us to experiment on the poor in disadvantaged communities of Africans, American Indians and Jews in Nazi concentration camps. https://www.ushmm.org/collections/bibliography/medical-experiments
Their cold blooded experiments have cast doubts on the reputation of sincere and dedicated scientists of all colors and countries. Unfortunately, many of the leaders of these skeptics have taken all the shots needed to prevent the worst form of sickness or death. Leaders got the best treatment when infected. The problem here, as always, is that doubters are infectious to others. While they claim it is their life and can allow it to expire, if they so choose.
It is a simple logic that prevention is better than cure. Treatments like monoclonal antibody therapy are very expensive, take time to make and not enough for everyone that needs them because of short supply. The cost of putting on masks inside and in crowded public places is far cheaper than the cost of hospital treatment paid with taxes by all of us. The unvaccinated also overwhelmed the hospital intensive care units, displacing those preparing for elective surgeries and more serious cases that are not as preventable.
But nobody has the right to infect others or their communities, exposing them to life threatening diseases or outright death. American media experts are training media practitioners in African countries on ways to combat disinformation and fake news about Covid-19. There are cultural and political differences that are crucial in fighting those spreading false news in social media.
Many fatal disinformations are spreading throughout the world including the United States.
People are worried about Covid-19 alright but they are also weary about how many vaccines they have to take before they are considered fully vaccinated. It went from one shot, two shots and booster shot. While one country, at least, is administering a 4th dose. The Unvaccinated, will hold onto any or no reason, to avoid taking a single shot based on anecdotal accidents.
Nevertheless, the unvaccinated that are the most vulnerable without a single shot of vaccine, are the loudest against Covid-19 vaccine. Nothing like if you die, you die. We must take care of you and your loved ones. The cost and liabilities of vaccine production cannot be borne by pharmaceutical companies alone. The efforts, knowledge or expertise can be onerous. So the Government has to partner and insure them against legal liabilities. No vaccine is free of risk.
Farouk Martins Aresa @oomoaresa