Professor Arthur Mutambara Picture: African News Agency
Professor Arthur Mutambara Picture: African News Agency

How can the entire African continent fail to produce a single Covid-19 vaccine?

By Opinion Time of article published Feb 9, 2021

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Professor Arthur G.O. Mutambara Visiting Full Professor, University of Johannesburg

Johannesburg - The personal Covid-19 strategy is a moving target. But here is where I am at the moment.

While waiting for the vaccine, there are other things folks can do.

1) Avoid getting the virus (we know the drill - masking, sanitising, social distancing etc.)

2) Steaming

3) More importantly, ensure that if or when you get the virus, you can quickly survive it. In fact, assume that you are going to get the virus, then devise a survival strategy. This we can do by building a strong and robust immune system as follows:

  • Physical exercise - this boosts your immune system and helps you develop healthy lungs - the virus’s primary target.
  • Taking vitamins that boost the immune system in particular: Zinc 50mg, D 2000IU, C 2000mg. Also just taking supplementary multi-vitamins in general.
  • A healthy balanced diet (dramatic cut on carbohydrates) and intake of a lot of water
  • Effectively managing comorbidities (underlying conditions) such as BP, diabetes, HIV/AIDS and obesity.
  • Natural remedies - Zumbani, Moringa; a concoction of ginger, garlic, lemon and honey. Embrace these natural and traditional remedies.
  • Ivermectin - the wonder drug. We must take this medicine as a preventive measure and for treatment. Ivermectin works as a preventative drug and also deals with the Covid-19 viral load if one is infected.

On Big Pharma

Of course, Big Pharma (together with Western governments and the controlled WHO) will not support or promote the basic and inexpensive solutions outlined above. They want to create complicated patented remedies out of which they can make super-profits. Am I now pushing a conspiracy theory against the pharmaceutical industry?

Well, Big Pharma is not a conspiracy theory. It is conspiracy practice. Even before Covid, the driver of big Pharma is NOT wellness but long-term disease management. The focus is on disease treatment and not wellness attainment. The longer you continue to take the medication, the better for Big Pharma. They want you to be sick and then buy medicines. Achieving wellness in the population is not their ambition.

If there are drugs, techniques or lifestyle changes that make you well so that you do not have to take medicines, Big Pharma is not interested in that. They will certainly not promote those methods. Big Pharma is a commercial enterprise and not a wellness driven enterprise.

As an illustration, let us assume that the answer to Covid-19 was just steaming and nothing else. If all scientific research the world over was to prove that this is the answer - just steaming; do you think big Pharma will promote the steaming method as a medical remedy to Covid? How much money will they make out of the steaming solution? Zilch!

I rest my case.

On the conspiracy theories around Covid-19 vaccines

The problem is that part of vaccines’ history and experience has been pretty adverse for people of African descent, for example, the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment.

Blacks have also been victims of other vaccine-linked shenanigans and in some cases, medical genocide. This is the sordid and egregious context in which the conspiracy theories about vaccines arise.

However, with this pandemic, Blacks/Africans can independently (hopefully) check the vaccines for safety and efficacy. They must do this. Surely, the racially inclined risks can be mitigated.

The conspiracy theories around vaccines are exaggerated and can be debunked.

Africans can also check and ensure that there is uniform application of the vaccines across races and populations.

There should be no vaccines targeting certain or specific groups, and not used in other groups. Hence the fears of vaccine abuse can be somewhat mitigated. We must be vigilant, of course.

Then there is vaccine nationalism where rich nations are now competing instead of cooperating among themselves, and they are also not working with the poor nations.

These developed nations are currently hoarding the vaccines to the extent that some are planning to have four times what their populations need. Yet, the developing countries have no access or limited access to vaccines. Anyway, that is another subject - vaccine nationalism.

It is prudent and instructive to note that the Covid-19 crisis is a global problem that requires a global solution. The pandemic will only be defeated if the virus is eradicated globally, that is, in all countries. Is that too difficult a concept for the rich Global North to grasp?

The tragedy of it all in the vaccine narrative is that there is no African country or black-owned company which is producing a Covid-19 vaccine. The African is an observer - a subject and not a participant in vaccine development.

This is a terrible indictment of all of us people of African descent. Shame on us!

The fact that there is a black or African doctor working on the vaccine at Pfizer or Moderna is irrelevant and inconsequential.

A situation where an African country or black-owned company is producing a vaccine is what we want and need. It would allay and ease these conspiracy theories. It will also give us agency and control as Africans.

For the avoidance of doubt, I am not opposed to vaccines. I have already explained the basis and background of the conspiracies against vaccines. The justified concerns can be addressed and rendered irrelevant and innocuous by African agency. I support vaccines that we, as Africans, have checked out to be safe and efficacious. Ideally, we should develop our own vaccines using our African universities, pharmaceutical companies, and experts, with our African governments’ guidance, involvement, and funding.

Conclusion

How can 55 African governments, 1.3 billion Africans, a collective GDP of USD2.5 trillion, the entire African diaspora (in the United States and beyond), all these African businesses, universities, entrepreneurs, intellectuals and scientists fail to produce a single Covid-19 vaccine?

We have vaccines from Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, Oxford-AstraZeneca, and from the Russians and Chinese. And absolutely nothing from the African.

This is beyond pathetic.

We need to get our act together. With this inexcusable collective ineptitude characterising both the continent and its diaspora, why should other nations and races take us seriously? Really?

* Professor Arthur G.O. Mutambara is Visiting Full Professor at the University of Johannesburg.

** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of IOL.

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