Johannesburg - And lo, it came to pass, a month before Christmas, that we were suddenly all transformed into virologists. We should have known better. Boris Johnson didn’t. He panicked, pressed the red list button on us for the second time since September and stole Christmas far more effectively than Cupcake could ever do – and Cyril’s had 20 months of practise.
It took the inimitable transatlantic columnist and former editor Piers Morgan to tell the world what we as South Africans knew to be true; just because we discovered Omicron here doesn’t necessarily make it a South African virus – and so after the knee-jerk identity politics (yes, whites can play the race card too), it emerged that by the time our scientists had identified the virus, it had actually already appeared in the Northern Hemisphere, except (a) their scientists aren’t as sharp as ours and (b) if they were, they sat on their hands and zipped their mouths.
The only answer to this variant or any of ones on either side is that President Xi Jinping’s name in the Greek alphabet is vaccination. We are getting ever-closer to vaccine mandates, which is constitutionally fair, ethically right and morally correc, unless you’re a former South African Olympic swimmer selling houses in Arizona.
That’s right, Roland Schoeman told a person on Twitter, who disagreed last weekend, to “do some research”. It was an act of breath-taking hubris, given that the person was Mosa Moshabela, deputy vice chancellor and head of research at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, who has as many degrees as Schoeman has Olympic golds. But we’re not in the swimming pool.
Schoeman’s arrogance was met by the professor’s humility and magnanimity; accepting the estate agent’s apology and telling the rest of the Twitterverse that he was just happy Schoeman was interested in the debate. Would Schoeman have said the same if Moshabela told him how to put his trunks on?
Not everyone is like Moshabela, sadly. The prospect of vaccine mandates is throwing up some truly bizarre anti-vax bedmates. AfriForum is leading the charge, perhaps understandably so given the predilection of many of their ordinary members for sheep dip in the form of Ivermectin. But so is the person who has yet to die or go to jail for Jacob Zuma, Carl Niehaus.
A vaccine passport, he said this week, was akin to a vaccine dompas. It’s a breath-taking leap of the imagination, but Carl’s been taking everyone’s breath away for years with his political allegiances, bank balances and tales of parental plight.
He’s not alone though, Durban export Lara Logan who’s now a chat show host on Fox News, has rightfully found herself in hot water for comparing Dr Anthony Fauci, America’s version of our Professor Abdool Karim, to the Nazis’ Dr Josef Mengele.
The true tragedy in all of this is that there’s no vaccine for wilful stupidity. There are the Darwin Awards though; the second prize is being intubated in a medically induced coma. The first prize is a box and a hole in the ground.
You choose. It’s your constitutional right.