Mon | Sep 27, 2021

M. Audrey Hinchcliffe | COVID-19 vaccines – Hope in times of chaos

Published:Thursday | May 27, 2021 | 12:06 AM
Audrey Hinchcliffe
Audrey Hinchcliffe
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What do you have to lose? “Take the damn vaccine.”

Since the declaration of the coronavirus as a pandemic, people sprang into action to devise remedies for prevention and cure ... a case of ‘what doesn’t kill you make you stronger.’ This at a time when there was only the treatment of symptoms akin to the flu or the common cold.

Researchers, who were already seeking to identify treatment for other viruses, sprang into high gear, singularly or in collaboration with other research laboratories and pharmaceutical companies, to find a vaccine to counteract SARS-CoV-2, the virus which is the cause of COVID-19.

Myths exploded (even at the presidential level) and COVID denial surfaced, distrust of formal medical care regimen caught on as social media and ‘Internet-trained doctors’ became popular. A parallel universe for health and wellness heightened as the search for a vaccine intensified.

I have no issue with traditional medicines (bush medicine) as some are ancestral and perhaps have proven their efficacy. What I find rather interesting is the speed with which over-the-counter (OTC) remedies flew off the shelves of pharmacies and wherever they could be found. Supplements – pills, medicine, rubs, inhalants, and gargle became the order of the day.

Interestingly, unlike the vaccine, some of the above lacked scientific scrutiny, human and animal trials, and rigorous approval processes, yet no one cared – the coronavirus must be stopped at all costs.

There emerged reports from Poison Control Centers that they are untoward effects, including death from poisoning caused by ingested and inhaled home remedies. It is unknown to what extent testing and trials of some supplements and other OTCs have been subjected, yet spending on them with false hopes of treatment and cures for diseases, weight loss, skin colour change, sex drive, depression and even for obeah (voodoo), no one gave thought to side effects. Charlatans had their days too touting remedies, but the coronavirus has ignored them all, and continues its rampage worldwide.

We see attempts of treatment and cure existing in parallel COVID worlds – one of self-diagnosis and treatment; the other of testing, results, and prescription, as in the case of the vaccine. The latter is the subject of years of scientific research and trials on brave humans who stretched out their arms, received the jabs with a substance for which side effects are not identified, and efficacy still uncertain. In other words, participants in trials are risking their lives so that ours can be saved.

Some vaccines are now approved, and while persons are lining up for hours to receive the so-called jab, others are not only sceptical about taking it, but there are outright, distrustful anti-vaxxers who are misinterpreting or making up and/or spreading tales of woe against the vaccines. This is not new, as certain conditions are being falsely blamed on vaccine – one such case is autism in children, and now formation of blood clots from coronavirus vaccines (some European countries). But I would rather have someone alive with autism and treatable clots – which are yet to be proven that it is caused by the vaccine – rather than the proven sickness, pain, suffering and sorrow from the coronavirus, which results in disability and death.

WHAT WE NEED TO KNOW

What is the alternative to the vaccine? It cannot be charlatans pushing potions. The vaccine offers hope in times of chaos. Sceptics and anti-vaxxers must take responsibility for themselves and we must not give them the right to influence us when our lives and livelihood are at stake. The coronavirus is not choosy, it is an equal opportunity destroyer.

We must get information from authentic sources and educate ourselves on the virus and the effects of COVID-19 on persons, community, and the economy as a whole. In this regard, public education and the means of communication cannot be a one-size-fits-all message, but tailored to respective audiences through appropriate messages, including audio-visuals, or by actions set out in protocols. We should by now know what means of communications are effective for urban and rural communities, the literate and illiterate, disciplined and undisciplined, and culturally appropriate.

The role of positive influencers to carry the message for infection control must be taken into consideration, whether they be politicians, educators, employers, entertainers, religious and community leaders, among others. There is an attempt, but much more is required.

We must learn more about viruses and the signs and symptoms of the illnesses they cause. Materials abound on the coronavirus, and in particular the one which causes COVID-19 – SARS-CoV-2 (previously known as 2019 novel coronavirus).

We must seek to know how vaccines are researched, developed, tested, and the approval process for their use to prevent diseases. Without vaccines ­­ starting in childhood, e.g., BCG, Polio, MMR; and in adulthood, flu, pneumonia, shingles, etc­ – ill health and disability would have caused more impactful stresses worldwide on health and human services and, ultimately, the economy.

We must inform ourselves of the benefits of vaccines for our health and wellness when measured against the untoward effects caused by not accepting and taking them.

We should all be lining up to receive, in particular, vaccines to fight off the coronavirus. While the producer should be of concern, the science, proven effects, and the availability should be our focus.

The vaccine, when placed against the parallel universe of home remedies, OTCs and the various routes inside and outside our bodies, usually over a long period of time, except, for example, some allergies, every time I come down on the side of the verse below (which I am quoting from). It was sent from a colleague, and I deem it most appropriate for the current situation with sceptics and anti-vaxxers.

“If you are still scared of dying because of the COVID-19 vaccine, you should know that the entire medical system got vaccinated. If they die, there won’t be anyone to cure you. You’re dead anyway, so just take the damn vaccine.” - Anonymous.

M.A. Hinchcliffe CD, JP, MSc, BA. is the CEO and founder of Manpower and Maintenance Services Ltd Group. Email: ceo@manpowerja.com