Bola A. Akinterinwa
The importance of COVID-19 pandemic is growing as a global question and noisome problem. The growing importance is best explained by factors of international politics, racism and increasing fear of anti-COVID-19 vaccines, especially as a strategic attempt to de-populate developing countries, on the one hand, unending daily media reports on the pandemic and emergence of a second wave of COVID-19 in many countries of the world, on the other.
For instance, in a graphic analysis of media coverage of wars, in comparison to the COVID-19 saga, by The Economist, on December 19, 2020, it was made clear that COVID-19 pandemic has dominated news coverage more than any other topics since the Second World War. Before World War I, in 1914-1918, there were the 1840 Crimean War, the American Civil War of 1861-1865, the 19 July 1870-10 May 1871 Franco-Prussian War, the 1899-1902 Anglo-Boer War, and the Spanish-American War of 21 April 1898 to 10 December, 1898. By then, news coverage was not as interesting as during World War I and II when there were high numbers of casualties prompting greater global concern.
And perhaps more interestingly, in the post-World War II era, there have also been limited wars, like the 1990 Gulf War, the Iraqi war, etc, whose news coverage has not been as extensive as that of COVID-19 pandemic. In this regard, a comparative study of news coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic in The Economist and the New York Times, carried out by The Economist, reveals that COVID-19 pandemic has dominated all other news coverage. Corona virus accounted for about 47% of the news coverage by The Economist and 46% by the New York Times on the average. In 1920, coverage of the war by the New York Times was about 39% and about 37% in 1940, while The Economist covered war activities to the tune of 52% in both 1920 and 1940.
In 2020, COVID-19 took more of media attention than other issues for many obvious reasons: it first emerged as an epidemic before it was redefined as a pandemic. The outbreak of the virus was shrouded in international controversy, especially in terms of its origin, politico-strategic objectives and scientific interpretations. In January 2020, for instance, media attention on COVID-19 was insignificant. In March, media attention was about 8%, but rose to its peak of above 80% in April. It declined to 65% in middle June and 40% in November 2020.
As many countries are still challenged by the second wave of the pandemic, particularly with the renewed efforts to contain the pandemic through vaccination, international politicisation of it has again become a major issue of global concern: is the introduction of vaccine meant to cure COVID-19 or to kill the under-privileged in order to depopulate them? Is there any attempt by the great powers to re-colonise people by other means? What really explains the fear of Third World countries? Is it simply the factor of the denaturing of the human gene?
The first problem is the fear of the unknown: the extent of goodness and curative effects of the anti-COVID-19 vaccines. In some countries of the world, opinion is divided between those who want vaccination against COVID-19 and those who are opposed to it. In Nigeria, for example, the Federal Government is well disposed towards vaccination of forty to seventy million Nigerians, to begin with.
As explained by Dr. Sani Aliyu, the National Coordinator of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, ‘we already have assurance that 20 percent of our population will be accommodated by GAVI arrangement in the vaccine. We don’t need to pay for that and this will cover 40 million Nigerians or so. But we have to pay for the operations and the logistics associated with it. Additionally, Dr. Aliyu, who gave the information on Tuesday, 22nd December, 2020 during his live television interview, said that we are also planning for an additional 20 to 40 percent. In general, over the next two years, at least, 70 percent of the population needs to be vaccinated before we can have enough immunity’ (Daily Sun, Thursday, December 24, 2020).
GAVI, meaning Global Alliance for Vaccination and Immunisation, is not simply a global health partnership, with the ultimate objective of increasing access to vaccination and immunisation in poor countries, but one that also raises the fear of such an intention. Poor countries doubt the sincerity of the proposed immunisation and vaccination, particularly in light of the international politicisation of the vaccination. The fear of poor countries is also explained by many factors.
First, Nigeria, as an example, wants to acquire vaccines from countries whose type of COVID-19 is quite different from what obtains in Nigeria. From the investigations by the Africa Centre for Disease Control (ACDC) and the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) there is still uncertainty over the nature of the new variant. As put by John Nkengasong, the Head of the ACDC, the nature of the new variant of COVID-19 found in Nigeria is ‘a separate lineage from the UK and South Africa.’
His Nigerian counterpart, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, observed that ‘over the last few days, we have monitored reports of the COVID-19 mutating in the UK, South Africa, and some other countries, but it is important to establish some facts about what we know, what we do not know, and what we are willing to learn over the next few years.’ While Nigeria’s NCDC is still seeking partnerships to unravel the nature of Nigeria’s new COVID-19, the ACDC boss was more emphatic: ‘this virus strain is different from the one in the UK. It’s called lineages. The lineages are different, the mutations are similar. And we’re now beginning to hear reports that this same lineage is being picked up in the UK. We also know that similar lineages have been reported in Nigeria this week by Professor Christian Happi’s group.’ In this regard, the NCDC believes that the UK variant of the virus is not yet in Nigeria while the ACDC argues differently and says it is investigating emergence of mutant coronavirus strains from the UK.
The two-point of emphasis from the foregoing is that, on the one hand, COVID-19, in its second wave, is said to be deadlier and that it transmits quickly ‘which is why it is responsible for a vast majority of the second wave in South Africa,’ and more disturbingly, why its viral load is also higher. More important, the NCDC boss has it that only vaccines can eliminate virus, which is one possible rationale for the strong effort to acquire vaccines for millions of Nigerians.
In this regard, the NCDC has revealed that there has been 100 percent spike in the number of COVID-19 positive cases in Nigeria. As at December 24, 2020, recorded confirmed cases were 81,963, while 69,651 patients were discharged and 1,242 lives were lost. If the situation of the pandemic is worsening and the NCDC believes in vaccines as the only remedy, but there is still an international uncertainty over the extent of usefulness of the newly produced vaccines, what then is the way forward? Where do we place the argument and belief that vaccines are the only solution to the issue of COVID-19 pandemic, especially in light of the present controversy still surrounding the vaccines? The challenges are multi-dimensional.
There are currently four types of anti-COVID 19 vaccine in clinical trials in the international market: whole virus (generally used to trigger an immune response), protein subunit (which are generally fragments of protein, used to minimise the risk of side effects), viral vector (which, like nucleic acid, gives instructions to provide antigens in the body), and nucleic acid (RNA and DNA which are genetic materials introduced to provide cells and make antigen). Functionally speaking, some of the vaccines transmit the antigen into the body while some others simply make use of the cells in the body to make the viral antigen.
The cardinal fear from the four existing types of vaccines is that, at the level of nucleic vaccines, no DNA or RNA vaccines are on record to have been licensed for human use. Besides, RNA vaccines have to be kept at ultra cold temperatures, -70c or lower. In fact, there have been cases of people given the anti-COVID vaccine who slumped immediately after the vaccination. There are also different reports of an intention to use the vaccine to kill and depopulate Third World Countries, especially in countries where there is no population control and where children are manufactured like goods in the factory. But why seek to depopulate?
One major reason is racism and the case of a 52-year old black physician, Dr. Susan Moore, provides a good illustration. She tested positive for COVID-19 on November 29, 2020 and was on hospital bed labouring for breath, despite being placed on oxygen. She died last week Sunday from COVID-19 complications which are essentially a resultant from medical neglect. As explained by Dr. Moore herself, her battle with COVID-19 was made worse by the treatment she received from a doctor at a suburban Indianapolis, Indiana, hospital. She was initially hospitalised at the IU North Health but there was no empathy.
The Indianapolis doctor reportedly said he was not comfortable giving Dr. Moore pain killers. The usual advice given to black patients is for them to go home for self-medication. In the words of Dr. Moore on a December 4, 2020 video, posted on her Face Book account, ‘this is how black people get killed, when you send them home and they don’t know how to fight for themselves… I had to talk to somebody, may be the media, to let people know how I’ am being treated up in this place. I put forth and I maintain, if I was white, I wouldn’t have to go through that.’
With the point made by Dr. Moore – don’t care attitude on matters of black life – the issue of anti-COVID 19 cannot but generate a non-empathy on the part of anti-black white people. But does this mean that anti-COVID 19 vaccines have the cardinal objective of killing black people?
The French example is also noteworthy. A former French presidential candidate, Mr. Nicholas Dupont Aignan, raised the issue of uncertainty over the avoidance of transmission of COVID-19 and the objective of vaccinating 14 million French people. He wanted a preliminary medical consultation on the vaccines before their use because the vaccines have never been tested on human beings. The vaccines have also not been prepared the traditional way. This means that there are complaints against the use of existing vaccines.
The problem is presented differently in Russia. The Vladimir Putin-led government announced the approval of its country’s COVID-19 vaccine, Sputnik V, even before any clinical trials. A nationwide vaccination program was announced in early December 2020. President Putin took active part in a meeting in which the makers of Sputnik V and British drug maker, AstraZeneca, want to test a combination of their COVID vaccines.
The problem again is that, even though the Sputnik V (name of the world’s first satellite, launched by the Soviet Union) is said to be more than 90% effective, unlike the Pfizer and Modena vaccines approved in the United States, about 3 million Russians have been infected and the vaccines are to be given freely and voluntary to about 60% of the population of more than 80 million people. The vaccines are only free for Russians and not for foreigners who are required to pay US $20 (twenty US dollars).
The problem of Sputnik V, as raised by Lucian Kim, ‘besides the technical challenges of ramping up production to an industrial scale and transporting the vaccine across Russia’s vastness at the subzero temperatures required to store Sputnik V, Putin faces widespread reluctance among ordinary Russians to get vaccinated. More than half of Russians don’t plan to get inoculated, while only 38% do, according to a recent poll. Even President Putin himself did not take the vaccine initially, saying that he would need to wait until there is medical clearance for people of more than 65 years are given the green light to be vaccinated.
Anna Nemtsova, in her ”Russia’s New COVID-19 Problem: Convincing People to take its Vaccine” (vide The Daily Beast) explained the public fear further thus: ”some see it as poorly researched and succumb to conspiracy theories. Many don’t believe that authorities publish all the data or tell people the entire truth.’ If Russia announces approval for the use of Sputnik V even before clinical trials, it is because of what Alexander Ivanov, a Research Associate at Moscow’s Institute of Molecular Biology, said of the low public trust: there are blank spots and questions for the research – but considering the spreading pandemic, 1.6 million victims, it makes sense to go with the mass vaccination, as soon as possible.
The Politics: De-population or Re-colonisation?
The manifestations of international politics of COVID-19 point to either an agenda of de-population as gradually being speculated since more than a year now, or a re-colonisation agenda in a new format. The emerging recidivist character of COVID-19 lends justification to the adoption of very strict immigration policies that make the enjoyment of freedom of movement difficult.
Nigeria, for example, has opened special registers for passengers arriving from the United Kingdom and South Africa, with the objective of controlling and preventing the importation of the new variant of COVID-19 into Nigeria. Opinion is still divided on whether the new variant is not yet in Nigeria. The registers therefore provide for sanctions against passengers who do not comply with Nigeria’s regulations on the pandemic: possible passport or visa suspension, publication of the passport numbers of the first 100 violators of Nigeria’s international travel protocol, etc, with effect from Monday, December 28, 2020.
In this regard, Dr. Sani Aliyu, the National Coordinator of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, put it thus: ‘there are new travelling requirements for people coming from the UK and South Africa effective from Monday, December 28, 2020. It is the responsibility of those passengers to make sure they familiarise themselves with these new rules, and airlines will be informed accordingly’ (The Punch, December 25, 2020).
Additionally, the example of the United States is also quite relevant. In the mania of Nigeria, the United States now requires all travellers coming from the UK to the United States to have a negative corona virus test that is valid 72 hours before boarding a flight to the United States. This requirement is informed by the new variant of the coronavirus spread across England. The new variant has 17 mutations and currently appears to be more transmissible, as well as harder to control. The new virus is said to be stubborn and deadlier, and therefore requiring greater precautions.
One more disturbing point is the current speculation of an Immune Passport or COVID-19-Free Passport as a prerequisite for international travels. Put differently, there must be an evidence of an anti-COVID-19 vaccination to be eligible to purchase airline tickets, qualify for visa application and travel internationally. Thus, the anti-COVID vaccines are being imposed to enforce general compliance within the framework of the current World Order, dominated by the US-led Western world. As much as there is the need for ensuring national health security and self-preservation, there must also be the need to protect the right to human dignity and free movement. Any attempt, under the pretext of COVID-19, to compel black Africans to take any of the vaccines is a breach of human rights and right to self-defined existence. International efforts at production of anti-COVID vaccines can be commendable but they also raise many questions of why there have not been much urgency in coming up with vaccines for other chronic diseases and epidemics like HIV, cancers, etc. Growing population is a matter of choice. Technology-driven re-colonisation of people who opt for bad governance and self-enslavement is pardonable, but the manu militari use of COVID-19 vaccines to depopulate or re-colonise is a policy non grata.