By: Stuart White 01-04-2021
A JAB IN THE DARK
A local news report caught my attention today describing how Botswana Police were called in to restore law and order to a Block 8 clinic where members of the public were scuffling. According to Inspector Mashumba Galekhuti of SSKA Police Station, a police presence was required to intervene between people jostling for places and pushing each other around in their zeal to jump a queue for the Covid vaccine.
I am guessing that part of the problem is that we’re not very good at queuing in this country. We get bored and grow impatient at our wasted time and leave the line to take care of other business, telling the person in front ‘I’m coming’, when what we actually means is ‘I’m going’! Then we stroll off to run other errands, never stopping to consider that everyone else would probably like to do the same thing but if everyone left there would be no line and no-one to ‘save our place’. But in this instance I also suspect that much of the bad grace is quite simply our eagerness to ‘get the jab’, in the hope that it will put us on the path out of the Corona nightmare in which we are all trapped. The compulsory mask-wearing, the daily taking of temperatures, the signing in to shops and offices and endlessly giving out our names and contact details, wasting even more of our precious time.
In other parts of the world it is much worse. Several European countries, including France and Italy, are still in virtual lockdown. Britons have this week been allowed to meet up in small groups for the first time this year but have been issued with dire warnings not just of plague and pestilence but of heavy fines and/or jail if they attempt to break out of the country by sneaking on to an outward bound flight. And this in the very country that is beating the rest of the world with its vaccine roll-out, with around a third of the population already jabbed with either the Astra-Zeneca or the Oxford vaccine. Across the English Channel, however, the French President threw up his hands and cried ‘Non’, declaring it virtually useless in the over 65s just hours before the EU's drugs regulator approved it for use on all adults. "The real problem on AstraZeneca is that it doesn’t work the way we were expecting it to," Macron told a group of reporters in January. "We’re waiting for the EMA [European Medicines Agency] results, but today everything points to thinking it is quasi-ineffective on people older than 65.”
And only yesterday Angela Merkel followed suit with an equally decisive ‘Nein’, at the mere thought of her citizens being injected with the Astra-Zeneca formula, propagating a story, largely de-bunked, that it causes blood clots in the under 60s. Health minister Jens Spahn said : 'In sum it's about weighing the risk of a side effect that is statistically small, but needs to be taken seriously.' Germany is now at the forefront of the row which has pitted regulators in Europe against other global health chiefs about the safety of the vaccine, even though the UK has recorded only five cases of CSVT after 13.7million vaccinations with the AstraZeneca jab by March 22 – a miniscule rate of 0.000036 per cent, equal to fewer than one case for every two million people vaccinated.
So, it’s no use to the over 65s and dangerous in the under 60s, meaning only those in the narrow age group of 61-64 are suitable candidates to have the Astra-Zeneca jab! Of course, cynics might opine that the real reason for the continental scaremongering is that the EU failed to pre-order enough doses of the drug from the manufacturer and its members are now scrambling for supplies so it would be in their governments’ best interests to whip up a good medical scare story or two to reduce demand!
Meanwhile the new kid on the vaccine block, Sputnik V, developed and manufactured in Russia, is now being rolled out but shock, horror, scientists are warning of the perils of the demon drink if taken in tandem with the drug. And this in a country where alcoholism is a patriotic badge of honour and men drink vodka like we drink water! Russians have been warned to limit their vodka consumption after receiving the jab with Alexander Gintsburg , head of the Gamaleya Research Institute, saying Russians should not drink more than one and a half shots of vodka a day if they want its protection to remain effective stating that the cells of the immune system 'stop multiplying' if there is a higher level of alcohol in the body. “Cells must multiply for antibodies to be produced,” he added. Recipients of the vaccine were also advised to abstain from alcohol for nearly two months before and after receiving the jab to avoid straining the body's immune system. Yeah, right.
Gintsburg's warning came as Russia registered the world's first vaccine for animals, named Carnivac-Cov. 'The next stage [of the pandemic] is the infection of farm and domestic animals,' the microbiologist said. 'And when we protect humanity with the help of good vaccines within a year, pets will be infected by that time. Gintsburg said that the virus will continue to evolve and be present in communities. 'One must be prepared for a long existence with this pathogen,' he added.
Those same cynics might remind us of the early Russian space programme and a rocket also called Sputnik which went up in space carrying monkeys and dogs. And now just as the Sputnik vaccine comes out, another for animals is also announced. Coincidence? I think not!
And what of the conspiracy theorists who maintain that the vaccines have been engineered by scientists working for Bill Gates to carry microchips into our bodies so Mr. Gates can spy on us 24/7? He surely has enough money for a Netflix subscription which would surely prove far more exciting viewing!
Which brings me neatly back to where I came in and my message to any of you who have actually had their vaccination already is simply, for better or worse, it seems you’ve had your chips!