Sun | Sep 19, 2021

Reggae, Rasta and the COVID-19 vaccine

Published:Tuesday | November 24, 2020 | 12:08 AMAnthony Turner/Contributor
Revellers at a party last December, before the COVID-19 pandemic struck.
Revellers at a party last December, before the COVID-19 pandemic struck.

New York:

Will Jamaican dancehall artistes and members of the Rastafarian reggae community, who earn a substantial income touring the USA, Canada, Japan, and Europe, be willing to take a COVID-19 vaccine when one becomes available?

Reggae artiste Chronixx gave some indication of what his position may be in an Instagram post in April when he posted, “Not buying the COVID 19 [thing]. Nature is I protection and strong refuge. These tech heads and warheads can’t talk to rasta man about human health. Never!”

Sizzla’s message was not much different, “No vaccine, no NIDs, no micro or nano chip in your body.”

Singer Kabaka Pyramid in May wrote on Intagram, “COVID is strategic to get humanity hooked on phones and social media, then bam, more killings. A lot more is in store ... .”

Buju Banton came under heavy criticism a few weeks ago for posting three viral videos on Instagram that urged his countrymen not to wear masks, which is known to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

The entertainment industry in Jamaica has been a casualty of COVID-19 and has been forced to shut down. Most major live events were postponed or cancelled outright. Jamaica Independence celebrations, Reggae Sumfest, and the Jamaica Tourist Board telethon billed ‘Together We Stand’ that featured Koffee, Shaggy, Sean Paul, Maxi Priest, and Richie Spice resorted to hosting virtual events with little or no revenue possibility. No decision has been made about the 2021 Rebel Salute festival, which is usually held at Grizzly’s Plantation Cove in Priory, St Ann, in January.

The novel COVID-19 has caused loss of life in the most extreme cases. High-profile Jamaicans who have fallen prey to the dreaded disease reportedly include Dr D. K. Duncan, singer Dobby Dobson, NY radio veteran Gil Bailey, and music producer Barry O’Hare. A vaccine is seen as the best chance to break the cycle as the deadly virus surges and severe restrictions are placed across much of the world. For countries to reopen their economies and for life to get back to normal, safe and effective vaccines for COVID-19 are needed to protect individuals from becoming ill, especially older people or those with chronic diseases.


Analysing the risk vs benefits of vaccination, Dr Landis, a medical researcher and Chairman of the University of the West Indies COVID-19 Task Force, speaking recently on Groovin Radio in New York, said: “I have looked at data on vaccine safety. You are looking at a mortality rate of about one in a million people who would die from a vaccine. When you then look at the mortality rate of the coronavirus (1.34 million globally), it is very clear, you would have a very good risk/benefit with vaccination. It is a bit of a no-brainer – to me at least.”

Landis further stated: “When you look back at the USA, for all kinds of diseases which have been eradicated or close to being eradicated, the rate of childhood diseases like mumps, measles, Rubella, also polio – a terrifying disease which crippled people - you had about 1.6 million of these cases every year, and now it has gone down to six thousand a year. So the power of vaccines is not in dispute,” he shared.