The pandemic has raised a few issues, and it's worth contemplating what's happened in the past.


I’ve always been a bit suspicious of chemical companies… or is that drug companies? Rightly or wrongly, I’ve always called them chemical companies because that’s the component of whatever they produce. Somewhere in my portfolio I’ve written about fragrances and how bad they are for the environment and for personal health, and it’s no surprise that not a lot of people seem to agree with me, but I do notice there are companies that produce products that are less harmful. I wonder what the anti-vaxers use for personal hygiene and for their laundry, and what about those smelly automatic squirter things? People keep waste bins under their sink, have pets inside and wonder why their place stinks… it’s no mystery that asthma’s on the increase!

The chemical companies have responded well to the Covid 19 pandemic, but it’s funny we have an Indian variant yet we’re not allowed to call it the Wuhan or Chinese flu… big boy politics is a powerful beast! Anyway, the speed the chemical companies reacted to the pandemic credits them, and while there’s some altruism being shown by the companies, I have to concede, if grudgingly, they’re in the business to make a profit and they have to return a profit to their shareholders, otherwise investment won’t happen. On the other hand, the pandemic is surely a goldmine for them!

There’s medical consensus, and by the World Health Organisation (though I have reservations about the UN and its branches), that the various vaccines will see the world gain control over the Covid 19 virus, even if it means we have to have regular jabs for a while. But there are the anti-vaxers who have an opposing point of view, and while they have the right to refuse the vaccine and the right to speak against it, at whose cost is their stance? I have no intention of convincing anyone they should take the vaccine, I haven’t studied the data but anyone can access it if they so wish. However it’s appropriate for the anti-vaxers to understand just how fortunate they are to be able to object and to put their point across.

Yellow fever is endemic over much of Africa and particularly East Africa. The vaccine is effective and when we were inoculated in 1995, we were told that we would need another one in ten years’ time, but further research says we’re good for life. The vaccine is a live one, so your average GP is unable to administer it, instead, we had to go to a large hospital. The governments of East Africa weren’t in the slightest concerned about individual rights, we were issued a yellow vaccination card when we had the jab and if we couldn’t produce it on arrival in East Africa, we were on the next flight home – no question. On Zanzibar, although it’s part of Tanzania, there was passport and customs control, we saw an American fellow who had arrived without his card, he was on the next boat back to Dar es Salaam. Lucky for him, there was no passport control to get back onto the mainland from Zanzibar.

As far as other diseases were concerned, we had twelve jabs in total, well take away the mantu test for TB, which wasn’t actually an inoculation, they inject the stuff and your reaction to it tells if you have the disease sitting dormant within you.  A couple of the inoculations were a waste of time, the rabies one didn’t mean much because if someone is bitten by a dog or a bat, they still need the same treatment as anyone who hasn’t had the inoculation. And apparently the cholera one didn’t prevent contraction of the disease, but there was effective treatment in the country for it. Again there was no choice. If we wanted to go, The Agency insured us fully but The Agency’s insurers wouldn’t cover us unless we had the inoculations.

There wasn’t a vaccine for malaria while we were there, so we took the prophylaxis, paludrine each evening and chloroquine on Sunday evenings. We didn’t much like the regime and Mags thought it made her hair fall out, but otherwise we had no reaction. On the other hand, the American woman working with us was using Larium (mefloquine) as per her standard recommendation, she was having the odd hallucination with the stuff! We stopped our regime, but she kept on with hers to no other effect and she didn’t contract malaria. We stopped our regime because we took note of what the local people were doing; when they contracted malaria, they took a single dose of mefloquine and came right after about a week. Anyway, we were able to protect ourselves with nets and long sleeves, but if I’m honest I took a few risks and did contract malaria three times. It’s nothing to take lightly, I carted people and kids to hospital with it and some died… so it’s serious. The symptoms and the week’s recovery aren’t very nice at all! Mbise’s recovery advice was to bring up bile by dinking tonic water… in my case, he was right, I couldn’t function properly until the green stuff came up!

We didn’t have a choice when it came to polio either. My mother was in fear of us catching it, she seemed to think the sun on our necks was the cause, so she tried to make me wear a cowboy-type scarf, or a foreign legion hat. I resisted, as the young might, but, perhaps fortunately, the health nurses arrived at school one day and we had to swallow the cherry flavoured oral vaccine… no choice. Chris, our neighbours’ son missed school the day of the vaccine delivery and he ended up in an iron lung for a time. With the help of leg callipers, he managed to get around, but he couldn’t play much with us because, as kids will do, we left him behind. Sorry Chris.

I’ve met a few people who are cautious about taking the Covid vaccine, but I’ve never met an anti-vaxer. It seems to me that their argument can’t be valid or very strong if they have to promulgate what a bull does after breakfast to put the rest of us off it. And yes, there’s always the hardy chestnut of freedom and freedom of choice… but where’s this so-called freedom? Freedom isn’t possible in any civilisation because there have to be rules. Can you build a house in a public park?  Can you forage in your neighbour’s garden for food, or pick their fruit? Shelter and food are the fundamentals of life, yet we have to stick to the rules. It’s hoped that everyone can be educated and find a job, but schools have hours of operation, and the average worker has to work to the boss’ time, so there’s no freedom there either.

As always, there are the few who don’t believe there’s a pandemic at all, and others who have faith is some divine power to protect them… well divine power, pandemic or not, the hospitals are clogged with patients who are suffering from the virus, which compromises the medical care of people with other problems. If nothing else, the vaccine will benefit the health services throughout the world and give them space to breathe. They need you to take it.

Submitted: May 27, 2021

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Add Your Comments:


Serge Wlodarski

In America, the pandemic and the vaccine have become political issues. You can't fix stupid.

Fri, May 28th, 2021 11:32am


No Serge you can't - more's the pity. Usianguke

Fri, May 28th, 2021 3:05pm

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