Astrazeneca Vaccine: When a Cure is More Frightful than the Disease

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PLSCOPE BY Eddy Odivwri    Eddy.Odivwri@thisdaylive.com

By Eddy Odivwri

Too many conspiracy theories have hit the airwaves long before the Oxford Astrazenaca vaccine actuall got into Nigeria a fortnight ago. Many of the said theories are patently mischievous.

Perhaps what gave potence to the theories was the rumour that COVID-19 itself was a mega design of some persons who are determined to either depopulate Africa or wipe out the black race altogether. According to the believers of this theory, when the Corona Virus did not do as much damage in killing as many Africans as expected, then the idea of using the vaccine to complete the assignment was resorted to. Just all kinds of weird thoughts and talks.

Penultimate week, the Oxford Astrazeneca vaccine arrived, making Nigeria the third West African country to receive it, Ghana and Tog o having received it earlier. As at last Tuesday, just about 8,000 persons had been vaccinated out of the nearly four million vaccines that were brought.

Few states like Lagos and Delta had made their own arrangements.

But day-in day-out, there are reports of the harmful side effects of the vaccine. And this has raised so much concern in Nigeria, especially as many European countries have suspended the use of the vaccine citing alleged severe side effects like blood clotting, fever, nausea. headache and acute body pain. Countries like Spain, Netherlands, Norway, Germany, France, Italy, Austria. Iceland etc., have suspended the use of the vaccine. This growing doubt about the wholesomeness of the vaccine is in defiance of the running explanation of scientists and medical personnel that there has been no clinical connection between the use of the vaccine and the clotting of blood.

Nigerian medics and medical practitioners as well some journalists have confirmed that there are indeed side effects except that “they do wear out in no time” and vary from person to person.

To encourage Nigerians to take the vaccine, right from Mr President through the Vice President to the ministers, and other public health officials , including governors et al, have had their taking the vaccines video-captured, so the public confidence in the vaccines are bolstered.

But the suspension, if not rejection, of the vaccine, in some European countries have increased the nightmare of Nigerians on the safety of the vaccine. In fact , the fear of the astazeneca vaccine has become even more terrifying than the Coro Virus it is meant to immunize us from.

Worse still, the scientific explanation that even after taking the vaccine, people should not only keep wearing face masks, observing social distance as well as sanitising our hands goes to vitiate strongly, the effect of the vaccines. So question is: if a vaccinated person will yet observe all the non-pharmaceutical precautions which an unvaccinated persons have to observe, then what is the essence of the vaccine?

It is even more frightful when unconfirmed sources claim that even vaccinated persons are still liable to getting infected with the Corona virus. So, to what end is the vaccine indeed?

Yet, in all of these fears and concerns, NAFDAC has raised the alarm of fake vaccine in circulation. If the authentic and confirmed vaccine is still generating doubts and fears among the Nigerian people, the entry of fake variations of the same vaccine will indeed be utmostly scary. Some persons are said to be ordering the vaccines online. What folly!

Some Nigerians have raised the concern that out of the four types of vaccines so far approved by World Health organization (WHO), the Oxford Astrazeneca has the least potence and the worst side effects. And that is the one Nigeria settled for. The other approved vaccines and their potency are : Pfizer (95%), Moderna (94%) Johnson and Johnson (70%), while the one brought to Nigeria is Astrzeneca (62%).

It is instructive that although huge money has been allocated for the procurement of the vaccine, the repots say Nigeria has not paid a dime for the vaccines, just as there are arrangements for more doses to be imported. Barring all the complaints and concerns raised on the Astrazeneca vaccine, the nearly four million doses is like a drop in the ocean, given the over 200 million Nigerian population. If indeed, we would all need the vaccine to be assuredly safe, then the population that will remain unvaccinated after exhausting the first batch will indeed be a standing danger to and among themselves.

Perhaps, one of the running reasons for global skepticism on the vaccines (not just Astrazeneca) is the speed of production. Many argue that it is somewhat suspicious that in just about a year, scientists have so quickly developed and tested the efficacy of the COVID 19 vaccine, whereas, humanity has been under the siege of other pandemics like cancer, HIV/AIDS etc., without a corresponding concern from world scientific bodies, and are thus aghast at the speed and devotion to carrying out all the requisite clinical trials that produced the COVID 19 vaccines.

Even those (plebeians and elite alike) who do not quite believe the elimination theories point out that humanity should yet watch the effect and consequences of the various vaccines before embracing it wholeheartedly, after all, the same scientists had declared that the Corona Virus is a strange affliction to humanity.

Matters are not helped by the fact that neither the Ministry of Health nor the National Council for Disease Control (NCDC) has done enough to either educate Nigerians or re-assure them that the vaccines will do them good and not harm.

The running belief in some quarters that Corona Virus is a “Big man disease” has to be sufficiently dismantled by taking the vaccine to the grass root. Seeing only Mr President, governors and ministers and such select powerful Nigerians take the vaccine jabs go a long way in reinforcing the mendacious belief that indeed, the pandemic lives only among the rich and influential members of the society. Let the ordinary market women, commercial drivers, artisans etc., take the vaccine.

It is only when this is done will the fear of the vaccine not be more than the fear of the disease itself.

New Security Chiefs: Will Anything Change?

By Eddy Odivwri

Come, you were among the people popping champagne 51 days ago when new service chiefs were appointed. You people were in such celebratory mood as if newly ordained messiahs have just been sent to Nigerians. See now, 51 days after. How far? Any regret popping those champagne?

Haba! Calm down. By your on counting they have just done 50 or so days. It is too soon judging them. There are great prospects that things are gonna change. If I have more champagne, I shall pop them all. The former service chiefs had ran out of ides completely

What do you mean by great prospects? Have you been following the scale of abductions in the last 20 days, particularly in Zamfara, Niger and Kaduna States? And pray, have you forgotten that all the service chiefs have been part of the fight against Boko Haram terrorists , banditry and kidnapping all along? So what is really new to them, such that they seem to be warming up to their new tasks in such slow pace?

You have to be fair to the new guys on the bloc. If you have followed their activities, they have been going round the various divisions across the country, motivating the troop, soliciting the co-operation of all stakeholders whilst mapping out their own strategies. So be calm. I am sure that they will soon hit the landscape with a bang and we shall be all impressed.

Do you realize that in Kaduna State alone, there have been three major abduction of school children within one week? Do you realise that the malaise has even spread to the South West, where some students were abducted in Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago Iwoye, Ogun State? Do you realise that apart from the celebrated case of Kagara students’ abduction in Niger State, that there have been numerous other abductions in the state? And you say there is prospect? Can’t you see that the system is being over run altogether? Or don’t you know that the morning tells the day?

Calm down! The new service chiefs are not military neophytes. They are coming with new zest and zeal. Do not forget that security business is everybody’s business. We all should be involved by sharing valuable information on things we see and suspect. Did you not hear of how under these new kids on the bloc Marte was recovered from Boko Haram? Did you not hear of how the troops recently routed some insurgents in Borno, killing some 41 of them, rescued 60 captives and even recovered a cache of arms and ammunition? Can’t you see some light at the end of the tunnel?

But we are still in the tunnel!

We are getting out of the tunnel soon

How soon is soon?

Take it easy. Rome was not built in a day. It will not just happen overnight. It takes careful planning and the determination of everybody to end this terrible affliction on our people. So I believe the new service chiefs are working out their own strategies, developing a strong base in intelligence gathering.

But didn’t they say that the abduction of the over 300 girls at the Jangebe school, in Zamfara would be the last? How many others have we had since that time?

Get your facts right. It was not the Service Chiefs who said that would be the last abduction, but the presidency. So don’t ascribe falsehood to the new guys. Don’t forget that the problem has been on ground and over the years, the terrorists and bandits have only managed to wax even stronger. But by the Grace of God, they will be dismantled and eliminated completely. Just a little patience and co-operation of all will do the magic.

But they said there are not only saboteurs among the soldiers, that even the huge money allotted for the purchase of arms is missing. So you see that defeating the bad guys requires more than mere co-operation of all. The will power of government to deal with the issues is important. For instance, how come since the order to shoot on sight was given against those carrying AK 47 illegally, nobody has been shot? Or what are the abductors carrying while abducting these school children? Or why has that man called Sheikh Gumi not been arrested since he knows so much about the CV and operational modus of the bandits? Why would such a high profile suspect be left unarrested? Is he not a threat to the efforts of the new guys? Don’t you know that such persons could be frustrating the plans of government since his crusade for amnesty for bandits did not fly? He could be informant to the bandits. And lest I forget, did the governor of Niger State, Gov Sani Bello not eventually confess that they have been paying money to fake repentant bandits who in turn use the money so paid to acquire more and more sophisticated weapons?

The federal government, officially does not approve of paying ransom for kidnapped victims as it encourages the crime

Ok, so unofficially, they willy-nilly pay, right? And do you know that apart from banditry and kidnapping, there is a return of armed robbery now? People are being robbed in their homes and on the highways. All these crimes were no longer part of our narratives more ten years ago. But here we are, confronted by them again.

Look, there are many factors fuelling these insecurities. The economy is one of them. Did you not hear that in the last six months, 23.18 million Nigerians have lost their jobs and remained unemployed? Did you not hear that inflation is now at 17.33%? Don’t you know the corollary effect of these economic indices on the society? Without much ado. I can tell you the hardship in the land is breeding the return of armed robbery. Things are tough

Since you have been defending government and its appointees, I thought you were going to also deny the economic crunch people are going through.

Yea, the problems facing us are complex. We cannot deny that. What is important is that there is a resolve and a will to tackle these issues. And I believe that with the new service chiefs, slowly but surely, we shall emerge victorious.