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Vaccine 1

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By C. ben-David

We are certainly in a bind when it comes to the acceptance of COVID-19 vaccines in SVG.

Public skepticism was in no way allayed even after Prime Minister Gonsalves tried to set an example for the rest of us when, after “prayerful consideration,” he agreed to be injected with the highly controversial Russian Sputnik-V vaccine, a product rushed to distribution without going through the lengthy and long established four-stage testing protocol.

Indeed, “Back in August [2020], it [Sputnik V] was the first [in the world] to be registered for emergency use although it had only been tested on a few dozen people.” This is why, “The quick approval of Sputnik V in early August … was met with criticism in mass media and precipitated discussions in the scientific community whether this decision was justified in the absence of robust scientific research confirming the safety and efficacy of the vaccine.”

Still, we all know that Dr. Gonsalves has spent his whole political career making all manner of bold, risk-tolerant decisions resulting in five-in-a-row election victories.

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But he and his medical advisors may now be taking one risk too many in trying to hector our people — including teachers, health care workers, van drivers, and young, healthy people — into being inoculated with the British-developed AstraZeneca vaccine, yet another drug that was granted emergency distribution before the normal testing regime was completed.

The tiny batch of the Russian vaccine was donated to SVG by some unnamed “intermediary.” The 20 doses, enough for 10 people, have presumably been commandeered by members of the political inner circle surrounding the prime minister even while 62% of ordinary Russians have resisted taking it along with many other nations rightly suspicious of medical research in that chronically corrupt country.

Given its small supply, none of this seemed to be any real consequence, or so it appeared, because we soon received 40,000 doses of the British-developed Oxford–AstraZeneca vaccine. Manufactured in India, this large batch was sold or donated to us by the Indian government, perhaps as part of international COVAX programme.

For many older Vincentians with one or more co-morbidities and a fond memory of our former colonial overlords, a vaccine partly developed at no less an august site than famed Oxford University must have seemed like a godsend. Proof of this may be found in the fact that thousands of these senior citizens, many of them returned migrants with British citizenship and accents, flocked to the various injection sites when the vaccine was distributed early this month.

Since then, the rush to vaccinate seems to have been reduced to a trickle.

Lost in our government’s zeal to get our people vaccinated is the fact that this jab is still technically listed as experimental, has been largely ignored by the Indian people (which is why we were able to so quickly procure part of their huge surplus supply), provides only 62 to 72% efficacy protection against catching COVID-19 as opposed to the 95% of some other vaccines, is generally not recommended for people over 65, “… due to limited information on the efficacy of this vaccine in this age group at this time,” and has just seen its use halted in 24 countries in Europe, South East Asia, and elsewhere over safety concerns regarding the possible development of blood clots.

Many of these countries have access to other vaccines. For us, the choice is “take it or leave it,” the “leave it” meaning a second cancellation of Carnival, continued restrictions on van occupancy, the banning of indoor dining, and, among others, extended school closures,.

In addition to these considerations, SVG has a very young population and it is doubtful whether school-aged children, in particular, or healthy persons under 60, in general, needs to be inoculated except using a paranoid interpretation of the “precautionary principle” which says that if anything could possibly go wrong by some course of action, in this case not accepting a vaccination, it certainly will go wrong, in this case dying or becoming ill from COVID-19. This is certainly false because most people will not contract COVID-19 or have any symptoms if they do, nearly all those who do catch the virus will have mild symptoms, only a handful will have to be hospitalised, and hardly any will die. The most compelling evidence for supporting these assertions is that even though COVID-19 has spread across the globe since late 2019, it has killed 2.7 million people representing 0.03% of the world’s 7.8 billion population, mainly elderly people with life threatening co-morbidities. By comparison, in 2015, a year with relatively few virus deaths, 55 million mainly elderly people, or seven times more, died across the globe from various causes.

Even though young people are not immune from catching or spreading the virus does not mean that vaccination would stop them from spreading the virus to other people. According to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) , “The risks of SARS-CoV-2 infection in fully vaccinated people cannot be completely eliminated as long as there is continued community transmission of the virus. Vaccinated people could potentially still get COVID-19 and spread it to others.”

This is especially true for spreading COVID-19 to the vulnerable people they closely associate with such as elderly co-resident parents and grandparents. How many such young people would continue to wear a mask or social distance while at home? How many are now doing so without being vaccinated?

As for non-family, does it even need to be said that, like the citizens of many other countries, we are not a particularly civic-minded people which makes Chief Medical Officer Dr. Simone Keizer-Beache’s comments about young people needing to take the vaccine to protect other people almost laughable.

To vax, or not to vax: that is the fundamental question all our people need to rationally ask themselves based on their individual circumstances and the best scientific evidence.

As for me, an elderly male living in the diaspora who suffers from coronary artery disease, I have an appointment to receive an injection of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine on Monday, March 22, a drug that is in very short supply which is why it is unavailable in SVG but has proven to be 95% effective against contracting COVID-19.

As they say, to each his own.

The views expressed herein are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the opinions or editorial position of iWitness News. Opinion pieces can be submitted to [email protected].

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15 replies on “To vax, or not to vax: That is the question”

  1. Another good article by C. Ben. It is sad that our government cannot talk to the people this rationally. Instead, it seems it is only allowed to speak-out by government employees, Radio announcers, etc…if they are Pro-vaccine. Even ALL SVG opposition politicians are on board. It seems like “public” people are either afraid to be “contra” to the government or they are involved in the propaganda. I am at least heartened that the vast majority of Vincentians I have spoken to are not so easily fooled. Best may be to wait a few years and see how many start to get cancer easier, or maybe infertility.. Some know that many thousands, including young people, have died from vaccines already. Many more have contracted health problems. Although Russia has offered Sputnik-V to SVG, I wonder if our PM is not going to try to get the Sputnik until the Astra Z is expired. The Sputnik-V is the only vaccine I would consider at this time, and others have said the same.
    Is it the government’s goal to vaccinate, or to use the Astra Z, even if the people reject it?

    It used to be that the difference between a Dictatorship and a Free Society is people having either choices opposed to being coerced to do things….Times are changing…worldwide, even in SVG!

  2. At least you are smart enough to take yours. A well written article. What I would add is, since most of the vaccines have been on the market there is on going research which is showing that their are fairly safe. If we take back our minds to around March- June last year when people were dying like flies we should understand why a vaccine was developed and introduced to market so fast, with out the normal testing protocols. We in the Caribbean need to be very mindful of what is happening around the world. Most parts of Italy has shut down again, other European nations are also looking at shutting because of spikes in COVID-19. There is a new outbreak in Japan. Certain US cities are spiking again. Let us hope it does not happen in the Caribbean.

  3. Avatar Of Wendell ColeWendell cole says:

    Ben are you suggesting that they release the astrazeneca to early? In addition, you speak as though the astrazeneca was developed by the uk and manufactured in India, rather than a joint initative beween India and the uk.

  4. Avatar Of Patrick FerrariPatrick Ferrari says:

    C ben-Ben’s pieces are a study in methodology and systematism. And so professionally researched, always. Many of us can learn from him.

    I would like to add that the brave, bare-chested horseman, Vlad Putin, did not take the vaccine he so proudly pushed and hurried to be first.

  5. I have previously submitted a short piece on this subject which I believe was never published. But now I see CbD providing us with reams of misinformation and this site is happy to publish it. At this point it makes no sense get into a give and take with CbD otherwise many will assume that his claims might have merit. There is none.
    Instead, let me simply repeat that I had the AZ vaccine administered to me, almost 3 weeks ago, also my wife (she is 75 and I am 80). We have had zero issues. Our son, his wife and their son also had the vaccine with no issues.
    Last thing to note is that this virus is 1000 times as deadly as ANY vaccine.

  6. Avatar Of Neil BellamyNeil Bellamy says:

    I read with interest your article and it’s great to hear you are getting the Pfizer vaccine soon. There is a lot on the internet about efficacy and safety of the AstraZeneca’s not for profit vaccine and it is interesting to hear that now EU countries are again using it as it is safe. My personal experience is a vaccine centre in the UK who have administered over 22,000 vaccines 50% of each Pfizer and AstraZeneca and only a few people have reported getting slight symptoms lasting no longer than 48hrs with both vaccines.
    What I can also say is that a care home with 7 elderly who had the AstraZeneca vaccine 5 weeks previous all tested positive for Covid in the same week but only one experienced cold like symptoms. Without the vaccine certainly 2 would have died and the others would have certainly been very poorly and probably resulting in hospitalisations and long Covid. Please note if exposed to covid and you have been vaccinated you are likely to test positive for covid for a short time but your antibodies in your body’s immune system protects you.
    Naturally there are concerns over getting vaccines but now with over 400 million Covid vaccines administered worldwide it is clear from the numbers many lives around the world are being saved and this is certainly observed in the UK numbers. I had the AstraZeneca vaccine last week with no symptoms and have friends who have had Pfizer or AstraZeneca and a few have observed a slight cold for 24 hours. I hope my words will help people to feel more comfortable about taking the vaccine in SGV and I also know my European friends would love to have that same opportunity to be vaccinated today with any EU approved vaccine.

  7. Avatar Of Concerned CitizenConcerned Citizen says:

    Could the contributor who post under the name Duke please supply proof of his assertion that thousands of young people and others have died or suffered severe effects from the vaccine, YES I AM CALLING YOU OUT AND DECLARING THAT YOU ARE POSTING ILL INFORMED BILGE JUST TO FEEL IMPORTANT, PUT UP OR SHUT UP. It is a out time that we all reject the rubbish been written by this doltish individual individual and others like him/her.

    1. Avatar Of Ricardo FrancisRicardo Francis says:

      Duke is absolutely correct in his comments, except about taking a particular VACCINE.

      The powers promoting VACCINES should be promoting healthy eating and healthy living.

      Concerned Citizen, you should do your research, and you will realize that Covid19 is a political virus to reset the world economy, and create a TECHNOCRACY.

      Ignorance is BLISS.

      Donkey (JA) says that the world is not flat.

      I am very fearless and courageous.

      I shall NOT and shall NEVER surrender and or waive my believes now and or in the future.

      Ricardo Francis, Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines in Waiting and in the Making

    2. Thank you CONCERNED CITIZEN. Ask around to have someone send you the VIRAL video that someone made as they went to the CDC website and showed over 1 thousand listed USA deaths, just those that were reported to the CDC! Last week, here in SVG, a man on the Leeward in good health died a few days after taking the vaccine. I will not list his name, but I can! Go to the Buccament area and ask around. Did you hear that on the news…NO!
      I suggest you not rely on government-sponsored Corporate Media for all your information, and, as much as possible, seek evidence rather than what entities WANT you to believe. Listen to REAL doctors on the front lines and not those “experts” holding higher government positions.

      Of course there have been many thousands more deaths from vaccines worldwide, but the CDC does not get all death reports in the USA or worldwide. You can also consider thousands of deaths of people that die days after getting the vaccine where the death is listed as NOT from the vaccine, (in contrast: there are reasons why government medical staff try to link as many deaths to Covid as possible).
      A handicapped person died yesterday in SVG and they are trying to say that is also from Covid although the family disagrees!
      Do you not think that anyone in SVG has died right after getting vaccinated?…Guess again! Most people DO NOT DIE from vaccines! BUT…Some do! You may want to make some friends in the Medical department in SVG to find what you are not being told.

    3. I said that THOUSANDS have died from VACCINES. NOT COVID VACCINES! YOU NEED TO READ MORE CAREFULLY!. This is a well established fact!!! It is probably many millions! I did not say how many died of the COVID VACCINES because the data compilation is on-going, as well as being suppressed. Real experts are saying that around 1% die from the Covid Vaccines. Compared to the .003% (under age 80) that die from the Covid Virus, (when contracted naturally), I think I will skip any vaccine for now. Worldwide It is also certainly thousands that have died from the Covid vaccines. The number is already well over 1000 in the USA alone! People have found that information on the CDC website, (although it may have been removed by now). You may want to read more carefully and disconnect yourself from the Matrix once and awhile, for your own protection. It is not my intention to embarrass you.
      I will be surprised if Kenton actually publishes this comment. He usually does not when I reply to those that try to attack me on this site.

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