We are in no position to snub the Covid-19 vaccine
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Johannesburg - As tempting as it is to join this anti-Covid-19 vaccine bandwagon, let me respectfully opt out.
Big pharma has not surrounded itself with glory in the past and one can understand the rampant protests. Following the recent arrival of Covid-19 vaccines, a new KFF survey registered an increase from 61 percent to 71 percent in the share of the US public who would definitely or probably get a vaccine. An online Ipsos survey of about 20,000 adults from 27 countries – carried out on behalf of the World Economic Forum – found that 74 percent were willing to be vaccinated.
However, only 64 percent of South Africans said they would take the vaccine. Last week, Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng added his voice to the sceptics’ chorus.
For months now, protests across Europe have campaigned the vaccine and the lockdown. Understandably, people are tired and stressed by the lockdown and its attendant economic impact, but tired is better than dead.
The anti-vaccine debate is neither new nor a conspiracy theory. Many pharmaceutical multinationals that have invented highly effective products to manage, soothe or cure multiple conditions have been entangled in controversial and unethical practices.
It is therefore condescending to silence the sceptics as it is unrealistic to pretend that snubbing a vaccine will eradicate corporate greed, whatever the reason. These reasons range from side-effects, which almost all pharmaceutical extractions have, to anti-Christ allegations and assertions that the vaccine is part of a bigger plot to control people by injecting tracking nanotechnology in their circulatory system.
Let us bring out all possibilities and probabilities from the beginning of time. Did Moses really download the ten commandments from God Almighty or did the Americans really land on the moon? Many people have come forth with claims and counterclaims to defend or attack new products, religion, political leaders, economic policies and goodness knows what.
Some of them are right, yet they died before they could make a conclusive case. Others were dismissed as conspiracy theorists, while in most cases we most likely will never know for sure.
The rulers of the world – mainly greedy corrupt businesspeople with the help of politicians – are just that: they pursue more possessions than they can spend in ten lifetimes, corrupting systems, capturing state institutions, manipulating education or media content to produce docile consumers for their merchandise.
Be that as it may, our politicians, when they are ill, seek treatment in America and Europe. They also want their children to attend school at Ivy League colleges. Our intra-Africa trade is still under 20 percent of total trade. The rest is with countries like the US and members of the European Union.
Our tourism establishments are priced to receive international – not local - travellers. Our elite love to go shopping on Avenue des Champs-Élysées, at Harrods and in Dubai. European sports leagues, national teams feature more Africans, more migrants leave Africa for a better life in Europe and America – where prestigious marathons are dominated by runners from Uganda, Kenya and Ethiopia.
How will all these happen if Africans are not vaccinated; or do we have enough Covid-19 relief funds left to extend the lockdown?
The vaccine might just be as toxic as lots of people fear, but we are way too economically dependent on international trade to be defiant. Besides, it will take much more to decimate us. We went through slavery, HIV/AIDS, King Leopold, colonialism – what is one little shot of Covid-19 vaccine!
* Victor Kgomoeswana is author of Africa is Open for Business, and a media commentator and public speaker on African business affairs. Follow him on Twitter: @VictorAfrica
** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of IOL.