Vaccine disinformation, anti-vaxxers genocidal hallucination, end time conspiracy theorists, demonisation of Bill and Melinda Gates as agents of Satan commissioned to depopulate black people all over the world, family pressures and fear, have all conspired to consign me into a walking cynic.
I have been a victim of COVID-19 pandemic and have been locked down close to a year. It has been depressing, despairing, limiting, sectioning and discouraging. COVID-19 bounced me off the London social circuit. Places of interests were shut down. Avenues for fun and relaxation became ghost towns. High streets with their colourful, exciting and limitless offerings to the rich and curious closed their shops and threw the keys into River Thames!
Children were shut away from their parents. Schools were shut down. Offices were shut and staff melt into their neck of the wood moaning day and night and praying for solution to end the pandemic. Then the race for vaccine caught the world by storm. A global race to discover vaccine ensued in western laboratories while the world waited with anxiety and expectation. Several sensational claims of vaccine discovery were made – from Africa to Zagreb. Hope was kindled and dashed. The world was on tenterhooks. Self-help became an instant hit. Patiently and methodically, scientists were burning midnight oil to save humanity from the ravages of a pandemic that had claimed millions of lives across all continents.
Then a ray of hope beckons. AstraZeneca announced its vaccine discovery in Oxford, United Kingdom. In retaliation, Pfizer also gleefully joined the big player in vaccine production. Today, the world is sighing a huge relief and hoping that the abnormalities of Covid-19 pandemic will soon return the world to its normalcy. Countries brought out the gongs to celebrate an antibody that will keep humanity alive all over again. The legion of anti-vaxxers are thinning by the day. Old vaccine skeptics are queuing up across western clinics to get the jab.
On February 15, 2021 at 1:10pm I got jabbed by a petite, pretty Indian female doctor in Burnt Oak, North London. I joined a snaky short line. In 20 minutes I was facing a life saver – Pfizer vaccine – that would shield me from a deadly and nomadic virus that respects nobody. I confirmed my date of birth and pronto, I was ushered into an office where questions about allergies were asked. Protocol questions were answered. I shot out my left arm and in seconds I got a painless antibody baptism that will enable me live a virus-free life – at least for now.
As I write, 15 million most vulnerable Brits have received the jab beating the government set target. In ecstatic exuberance, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has hailed “a truly national effort.” He said: “Those vaccines have been delivered in our NHS hospitals, in GP surgeries, in high street pharmacies, in cathedrals, churches, mosques, temples, in community centres, and in living rooms in cities, towns and villages. They have been delivered by the most extraordinary army of vaccinators who jabbed like there is no tomorrow – doctors, nurses, retired health workers who returned to the fray – supported by volunteers, organisers, marshals guided by the leadership of the NHS and supported by the great strategic, logistical nous of the British Army. “There will undoubtedly be bumps on the way but after all we have achieved, I know that we can go forward with great confidence. Of course, on their laurels.”
On his part, Prof. Tim Spector, the initiator of the Zoe Covid Symptom Study that tracked 330,000 people, said: We are achieving 67% protection after three weeks and 46% after two weeks. There is a lot of reason to be optimistic that we will be in a much better place in two or four weeks and then we can start to ease some restrictions.”
In UK, one in five people have got the jab. The pandemic has claimed 118,195 British lives. Global death from Covid-19 pandemic stands at 2,411,745. In spite of the optimism of the vaccination and dip in UK death, the Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab, has rejected the temptation to set a date for the lifting of lockdown restrictions. Majority of Tory MPs would like life to return to normal by end of April, but Mr. Raab has insisted that decision has to be based on data. Common sense decision you might say judging by the initial hesitation in March to lock Britain down. That delay action cost thousands of life.
Raab said: “We have made good progress. We don’t want to see that unravel because we go too far too quickly. We need to retain some flexibility to deal with the variants, which of course are part and parcel of dealing with the pandemic before we can alter the precise timeframe.”
The UK Hovernment has gone a step further in its effort to combat the spread of COVID-19 by mandating UK travelers returning from a red list of 33 countries to check into quarantine hotels at a cost of 1,750 pounds. Other nationals are required to pay 210 pounds for COVID-19 test on day two and eight of their 10 days isolation period. As I write, deaths are down and immunity is up. However, there is widespread fear and cynicism among the black and Asian community which has led to a low take up of the vaccine among these ethnic minority people. The Office of National Statistics has consistently been making apocalyptic prediction that blacks and Asians are two-and-half-times more likely to die from Covid-19 yet, they are digging deeper into skepticism and fear.
For my Nigerian readers, this is a picture of a civilised, normalised and well-ordered society. Vaccination programme in the UK was treated as a national emergency. There was a brutal British efficiency in all areas of its delivery. There was absence of hierarchy, class or race in the whole vaccination drive. No VIP treatment. It was absolutely free. No gun wielding soldier, police or any uniformed personnel around the clinics with whips to brutalise us. No privilege arrangement. Once you received the message on your phone and book a date, you are good to go. No shortage or hoarding of vaccines for family members. No vaccine corruption. No vaccine millionaires. No vaccine impunity. No vaccine inhumanity against man. No vaccine discrimination on gender and your postcode.
Here, a person in Peckham could even get it faster than a person in Knightsbridge!
But not in Nigeria. If Ebele Obiano, the First Lady of Anambra State could travel to US to receive the jab, God helps ordinary Nigerians when Nigeria starts the vaccination roll out. She may be a US citizen, it was a bad PR for the privilege Nigerians. Our wicked and insensitive elites will rather make the people suffer, miserable and die rather than give them the vaccine. That is who we are. Humanity is not in Nigerian governance. They govern for their self-interest. Period! Vaccine will not be given to Nigerians because government cares for them. Any government who could hoard perishable COVID-19 palliatives would more than likely hide away the vaccine. However, they may grudgingly deploy it because they could not help it – morally!
When the vaccine arrives Nigeria, it is hoped that the delivery will not be crude, barbaric and punishing. It is hoped that hierarchy, class, elitism, ethnicity and privilege would not play a part in its delivery.
It is hoped that controversy, primordial hoarding and impunity will not mar the humane process of giving Nigerians immunity from a pandemic that had killed humanity in millions. It is hoped that my family at Ibadan can jab the air and roar like this writer and say: absolutely jabulous! Hoo!! Haa!! We got the jab! We got the jab!