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SCEPTICISM IS IN THE AIR

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HUMANS are pretty poor predictors of what will bring them satisfaction or what will solve all their problems. President Vladmir Putin recently announced that Russia had approved the ‘world’s first’ COVID-19 vaccine. What was supposed to be the best piece of news this week has caused upheaval in the science community and also doubts among each country’s citizenry. The vaccine has caused division even within families, with others giving it a thumbs-up, while others are increasingly becoming doubtful.

In all honesty, the vaccine would have been the highlight of the week had it not seemed ‘rushed’. The popular notion when it comes to vaccines is how the trials usually take up to 48 months to be completed and approved. Therefore, this sudden approval by Russia not only makes one sceptical but also enables one to think of the implications or side effects that this vaccine could bring forth. Vaccines are generally controversial in nature, with anti-vaxxers consistently opposing their use dating back to the 1800s. Most anti-vaxxers have cited vaccines as the major cause of autism. Some people choose to forgo different vaccinations due to a high risk of potential allergic reactions. However, over the years the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has come out to say that vaccines are very safe in all but a few rare cases. 

Complications

What needs to be noted, however, is, in order to avoid any complications that would stem from vaccines, research needs to be duly conducted and trials maximally done. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institution of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told National Geographic that, I quote; “Concocting a COVID-19 vaccine is not the same thing as proving a vaccine is safe and effective.” Fauci unfortunately, is not the only sceptic expert when it comes to this Russian vaccine, as former Associate Commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Peter Pitts also expressed his doubts concerning the Russia announcement. According to Pitts, the Russians have a history of lack of transparency and approving drugs with little or no testing. This comment by Pitts highlights the main issue most of us are having with accepting that this COVID-19 vaccine is ready for use.

If we are all being honest, Russia does not have a really good track record when it comes to transparency and clarity. They are also led by one of the most controversial leaders to date. This further exacerbates the doubt surrounding the approval of this supposed vaccine. This article is in no way attempting to discourage people from being excited about the approval of a vaccine, since we are all waiting with bated breath for one. However, caution must be taken and we should tread lightly as the consequences of using this vaccine might far surpass the implications of the coronavirus.

Scepticism concerning any vaccine or treatment of the disease caused by the coronavirus has been quite prevalent, dating back to April this year. For one, Mauritius came out to state that they had formulated a herbal concoction that was bound to ‘cure’ this disease. This news was met with mixed reactions from the public yet Mauritius claimed their ‘COVID-Organics’ was tried and tested and was the sole reason for the high number of recovered cases. The Mauritius president may have failed to convince a lot of countries but he certainly convinced Tanzania, which later revealed that the country was now COVID-19 free due to prayers from the citizenry.

As a layman in the country of Eswatini, it is quite challenging to easily accept supposed vaccines for this disease simply because more often than not we have been duped by supposed cures or vaccines of many other diseases over the years. From the alleged ‘curing’ of HIV through taking showers, which was advice from a prominent public figure might I add, to a pastor purportedly raising a man from the dead; we have seen and heard it all. 

Judging from the estimated profits to be gained by the country that formulates or approves a vaccine of COVID-19, I think I have a valid reason to be a bit sceptical.

 

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