Taking a jab at human dignity
By Farrah Theodore
It was inevitable, that the fear of mass death from a mysterious virus would give way to more deliberate thought about the impending erosion of basic human rights, which safeguard the exercise of personal autonomy. The advent of the dreaded coronavirus exposed gaps in global public health from the initial medical supply challenges of protective wear and medical equipment to legal matters of statutorily mandating vaccinations and other coercive measures. A holistic approach to healthcare is imperative if we are to move forward efficaciously. The current pandemic will not be the last, for the continued degradation of the environment, toxic pollutants, lack of a living wage for many to afford health care, access to higher education to obtain better jobs, water, and food security among others, will make us more susceptible to emerging threats.
Eric J. Reading noted in an online article that, "a World Obesity Federation study revealed Covid-19 mortality rates are over 10 times higher in countries where overweight prevalence exceeds 50% of adults, compared with countries that have a prevalence below 50%". Though the coronavirus has dominated headlines, other diseases still do damage for example in 2019 HIV related causes led to 690,000 deaths and malaria claimed 409,000 lives. Global health security is at risk and focusing solely on COVID-19 will do more harm than good. Furthermore, an estimated 71% of global deaths are due to chronic non-communicable diseases and its co-morbidities make COVID-19 more deadly.
The WHO has expressed concerns about vaccination rates around the world and the disparity in distribution, availability, hesitancy and what some refer to as vaccine nationalism (hoarding or pre-ordering vaccines to give richer countries unfair advantage). An estimated 4b doses have been administered globally with a whopping 84% distributed to high-income countries where the continent of Africa has a fully vaccinated rate of 1.65%! While there is a moratorium on countries offering booster shots (3rd doses), Katherine O'Brien, Director of the Department of Immunization, Vaccines, and Biologicals at WHO stated that the evidence around the need for a booster shot is evolving and still incomplete. In recent times, Canada suspended the administration of the AstraZeneca shot due to concerns over the formulation of blood clots. This revelation was a red flag that couldn't be ignored as Dr. Issac Bogoch, an infectious diseases physician and member of Ontario's Covid-19 vaccination task force said it warranted "further exploration". Also, Dr. Caroline Quach, chair of NACI and a pediatric infectious diseases expert observed that "the vaccine has had all the ups and downs - like a roller-coaster…the problem is because data are evolving, we are also evolving our recommendations".
With so much uncertainty that comes with a novel treatment being in its experimental phase, it is mind-boggling that those who are mandated to act in the interest of the people they represent would ignore the concerns and force mass vaccinations. This 'vaccine' is currently distributed under emergency use because they aren't fully approved and the experimental stage is scheduled to end in 2023. The dates for the top three are: Pfizer jab won't be complete until January 27th, 2023; Moderna in December 2023 and AstraZeneca February 2023.
Is it any wonder that in the UK, medical professionals and vaccinators are cautioned that fully informed consent must be given by the receiver and in the event of any adverse reaction to the COVID-19 shot, manufacturers have full indemnity and cannot be sued but you may not have that legal protection? Governments in many countries, such as in the US, UK, and Europe, have agreed to indemnify Covid-19 vaccine manufacturers. Has your government done the same? Are you aware of the existence of vaccine compensation schemes and no-fault compensation schemes? Do you value your life and that of your loved ones? It is undeniable, that greater transparency is needed at every level and about every issue of interest to the general public. A top-down approach will be futile and dangerous as evidenced by the push back by the populace around the world, notably in Europe and the Caribbean countries of Barbados and St. Vincent and the Grenadines. This has to be a coordinated, collaborative, and multi-sectoral effort to improve health outcomes and strengthen social infrastructure.
Robin Clarke observed that there was as much violence in the way each nation treats its underprivileged classes as in an attack on a bank manager or café owner by a gang of thugs. Pfizer was fined £84m by the UK competition regulator for hiking the price of an anti-epilepsy drug by 2,600%; taking advantage of the fact it was the only one of its kind available and very much in demand. The business of health is as profit-driven as any other industry. Death is inevitable but violence isn't. Pierre Mertens wrote that "violence is ubiquitous…occurs simultaneously at every level in the form of injustices and inequalities that damage and threaten the whole social edifice".