BY GERRY CHIDIAC
Lessons in Learning
As I sat recovering from the side effects of my third COVID-19 vaccine, certain things didn’t add up.
First of all, I know a number of good, intelligent people who are choosing not to get vaccinated. Of course, there are some very unkind individuals among them who harass our health-care workers and people in the service industry.
This group is different from people who generally object to vaccinations. They’re more numerous and they lean more conservatively than usual.
The reason for this is becoming clear. American news source Democracy Now recently stated that “a right-wing network linked to billionaire Charles Koch has played a key role in fighting public health measures during the pandemic, including mask and vaccine mandates, contact tracing and lockdowns.”
My first two doses of the vaccine were AstraZeneca. When demand for this vaccine dropped in Western countries, remaining doses were sent to developing countries, supposedly to meet the call of the World Health Organization to vaccinate billions of our less-wealthy neighbours. The problem was that these vaccines were weeks away from their expiry date, and most ended up going to waste because health authorities didn’t have time to get them into the arms of their citizens.
The only vaccines available in Canada now are made by Pfizer and Moderna. Both companies have received generous government assistance and have benefited from publicly-funded research by academic scientists in developing their vaccines.
The fact that billions of people haven’t been vaccinated allows the COVID virus more chances to mutate. The vast majority of these individuals live in places where governments simply can’t pay the asking price of Western pharmaceutical companies.
As I recover from my latest injection, I ask myself: How many more boosters will I need before the COVID crisis is over? How many more of my tax dollars will go into the coffers of Pfizer and Moderna?
Fortunately, other global players are stepping forward. According to the Africa Times, the Chinese government will donate 600 million doses of its vaccine to Africa and produce 400 million more through partnerships with Chinese companies and African countries.
Such sharing puts our profit-driven pharmaceutical industry to shame.
Tiny Cuba has also developed two COVID vaccines, both of which are proving to be quite effective. This is very good news for Cuba’s political allies, Venezuela and Iran. Other countries have also shown interest, including Vietnam, Nicaragua, Argentina and Mexico. These vaccines aren’t just being made available to millions more people; they’re also a fraction of the price of those produced by Pfizer and Moderna.
COVID doesn’t care whose podcast you listen to. It doesn’t care how rich or poor you are. It doesn’t care if you love America, China or Cuba. It doesn’t care if you’re a capitalist or a socialist. It will spread and mutate. It will make people sick, and it could become more contagious and deadly. No one in the world is safe until everyone in the world is safe.
We will be studying this pandemic for many years. We will look at what we did right and what we did wrong. We will look at health measures that were effective in preventing the spread, the long-term impact of vaccinations, the reason for the spread of misinformation, and the economic impact of the pandemic.
We will also celebrate the heroes who saved lives and kept our spirits strong through a very difficult time.
But we must put aside our greed and political interests and come together for the good of all humanity. It’s up to us to save our own lives.
Gerry Chidiac is an award-winning high school teacher specializing in languages, genocide studies and work with at-risk students. Check out his website here. Find him on Facebook. Or on Twitter @GerryChidiac