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In a recent episode of the UK-based Spectator TV, Adam Ritchie, Senior Project Manager in vaccine development at Oxford University’s Jenner Institute, was asked how ethical it was for the UK and other high-income countries to be giving covid-19 vaccines to those less vulnerable to severe infection while at-risk groups in places such as India faced a long wait for a potentially life-saving jab.
A jab for life
Considering the Jenner Institute works primarily on diseases that predominantly affect low-to-middle-income countries Ritchie responded by saying, unsurprisingly, that he did, in a personal capacity, have some reservations about this.
On a similar theme, earlier this year I wrote about my indifference to be vaccinated, largely based on the assumption that I am in the low-risk category for covid. Subsequent events — being in close and enclosed company of people who, it transpired, had the virus at the time we were together — have made me feel, perhaps wrongly, that I may even be in a lower-than-low-risk bracket. (I am available for medical trials, if the price is right.)
When I published that vaccine article, one big unknown was whether or not inoculation helped reduce transmission.
Ironically enough, on the very day I uploaded the blog piece, preliminary studies were released that suggested the jab does indeed slow the rate of infection. This now seems to be largely accepted. (Do note, however, UK infection rates fell dramatically in the summer of 2020 which suggests that there are many factors at play in terms of contagion.)
This positive vaccine performance being so, the case against getting one is weakened somewhat. Somewhat that is.
There are still not insignificant reasons why I and many others with similar profiles shouldn’t be in a rush to get a vaccine.
For starters, we have that moral issue mentioned above. Is it right that somebody who appears immune and/or already has self-produced defences to covid is given a jab before a highly vulnerable person receives his/her shot?
(Now I know many of you would love for Wrong Way to live forever, but covid is far from the biggest threat to my and many others’ existence right now. You must protect me from graver concerns if you want me to stick around for a long time to come.)
‘If it is considered immoral for some people to get jabbed right now and even for a few years to come, then how can proof of vaccination in order to travel or whatever be seen as fair?’
Alongside this, owing to the nature of coronavirus, even those already vaccinated in high-risk groups will most likely need a booster dose before my first “turn” comes up — I refer to my turn as stipulated by Colombia’s five-stage vaccine rollout programme.
For example, my 77-year-old father received his vaccine in March. To stay sufficiently protected, it’s most likely he’ll need at least one more jab inside the next year.
Immune to clear thinking
Globally speaking, we’re far from having enough doses for all. Thus, for now, the focus should be on getting what we do have to those in greater need, wherever they may be.
Then there’s the potential immunity issue. Do I and others like me even need a vaccine for something that doesn’t appear to present any real risk for us? We’ve already seen during this pandemic the many problems that arise when treating the population as a homogeneous unit (do recall those worst-case-scenario models that saw much of the world scramble for the panic button and abandon all proper reasoning).
So taking all that into account, the idea of compulsory covid vaccine passports can also be seen as unethical. If one considers it immoral for some people to get jabbed right now and perhaps for a few years to come, then how on earth can proof of vaccination in order to travel or whatever be seen as fair?
What’s more, it will hit the already squeezed under-40s disproportionately, just adding to the hardship brought about by the highly questionable coronavirus-containment measures. The idea of reaching retirement age with a pension to fall back on seems a long way off for many in that category right now.
In many ways, in these crazy coronavirus times, one can’t be too surprised with such a blatant disregard for large sections of our population. Our esteemed leaders’ inability to think in any way clearly has been one of the many crippling side effects of the pandemic.
All one can do is to continue to highlight the many inconsistencies in the world’s covid-containment battle in the hope that some of those currently controlling our lives will come to their senses. Events of the last 14 months don’t instil one with much confidence, however.
What we might need is a new, deadlier global crisis to come along to snap these leaders out of their covid monomania madness.
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