The world could not wait to say goodbye to 2020, the year of global devastation caused by coronavirus. New Zealand that had done a pretty good job collaring the pandemic in 2020 was the first country to step into 2021 with fanfare. But it was not so for the United States of America that recorded new highs in the number of infections, hospitalisations and deaths, and remains the world’s worst-case scenario with almost 20 million cases, and more than 345,000 deaths officially attributed to the virus by the time Americans were moving into 2021. The legendary Times Square in New York, where hundreds of thousands of partygoers and revellers congregate to usher in the new year with fireworks and confetti, had only a few hundred heavily masked citizens in attendance. The masks were not part of their party costumes. They were adorned to keep possible droplets of coronavirus in the air at bay.
But it is not all gloom. The race against the virus yielded positive results before the end of the grim year with the rollout of Covid-19 vaccines, first in the United Kingdom and steadily in other countries, including the USA.
Although no one knows exactly what 2021 will bring, there is hope that whatever may lie in wait can be overcome with concerted efforts. This optimism is summed up in the words of US President-elect Joe Biden who said in his New Year message, “I’m absolutely, positively confident – confident – we’re going to come back and we’re going to come back even stronger than before.”
Biden and other world leaders have taken or pledged to take the vaccine to assure the people that it is safe to do so, amid doubts sown by conspiracy theorists around Covid-19. These leaders include three former US presidents Bill Clinton, his successor George W. Bush and incumbent president Donald Trump’s predecessor Barack Obama, who have all declared openly that they will be vaccinated ‘when it is their turn’. President Trump, who caught the virus in October 2020 and was hospitalised, has also indicated that he will take the vaccine “at the appropriate time”.
Kamala Harris, Biden’s deputy-in-waiting, the glass ceiling breaker who is set to become the first woman, the first African American/Asian American and the first female senator to occupy the exalted seat of Vice President of the United States of America, has also had her first shot of the vaccine. So has Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
More than 140 world leaders and experts, including the President of South Africa and Chair of the African Union, Cyril Ramaphosa, the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan, the President of the Republic of Senegal, Macky Sall and the President of the Republic of Ghana, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo have signed an open letter calling on all governments to unite behind a people’s vaccine against COVID-19. The call was made ahead of the World Health Assembly on 18 May 2020.
The letter, which marks the most ambitious position yet set out by world leaders on a COVID-19 vaccine, demands that all vaccines, treatments and tests be patent-free, mass produced, distributed fairly and made available to all people, in all countries, free of charge.
When coronavirus landed on the shores of the United States of America about a year ago, with the first case recorded in Washington state on January 20, 2020, President Donald Trump and his supporters in America and beyond did not waste time in dismissing it as a hoax intended to bring down the Trump administration by the opposition Democrats and their collaborators, including the “fake news” media.
In February, President Trump declared at a campaign rally in North Charleston, South Carolina that coronavirus was the “new hoax” the Democrats were using to damage him and his administration. “The Democrats are politicizing the coronavirus,” he said.
But it soon became clear who was politicising the virus. From calling it a hoax, Trump said coronavirus was less dangerous than the ordinary flu virus and it would eventually go away. By September, when over 190,000 Americans had died from Covid-19, the president was still singing the same song. He told the moderator who asked him at a Townhall event whether the virus would ‘disappear’ without a vaccine, that “Sure, with time.”
Unknown at the time, Trump had confessed with his own mouth that coronavirus was 5 times deadlier than the flu, in an interview with celebrated journalist, Bob Woodward. He also admitted that he knew it could be transmitted by air. Yet, he refused to wear a face mask and mocked those who did so, especially his presidential election challenger, Joe Biden. Many foolish citizens copied Trump and refused to wear face masks. Needless to say, not a few paid with their lives. Trump also told Woodward that he deliberately downplayed the outbreak of the virus so that US citizens would not panic. By inference, the president feared that the stock market would be affected – the performance of the stock market being his trump card and yardstick for measuring the performance of his administration.
Then, coronavirus invaded the White House and not only closed Trump’s mouth with a face mask, but also made him panic. He allowed himself to be rushed to hospital for ordinary Covid-19. When he returned to the White House from hospital and removed his face mask to address his supporters, he was clearly panting like someone that had swallowed a little bit of otapiapia. Then he boasted that he was attended to by 14 doctors who gave him the best medication available, including Remdesivir, which we are now being told was manufactured for only African people in Africa.
Those who believe whatever they want to believe do not bother to do any fact checks. If they did, perhaps they would be able to make independent assessments and informed decisions. Perhaps they would have found out that the World Health Organization (WHO) confirmed that Trump indeed took Remdesivir even though there is no evidence that it works. Perhaps they would find out that Trump bought all available Remdesivir in the world for Americans (not Africans) when it was thought to be the breakthrough drug for Covid-19. Did I hear you say that was very selfish?
Coronavirus also visited Trump’s wife, two of his sons, and at least 20 of his White House staff who, like him, were making shakara and refused to wear face masks. The one that likes to be called Junior Trump, the president of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro, joined in the charade and told his citizens to go and enjoy themselves on the beaches, face mask or not. Then, boom! Covid-19 infections exploded in Brazil and today Brazil has at least 7.5 million cases and over 191,000 deaths – a number that experts say could have been reduced by one-third by the simple and cheap preventive measure of wearing face masks.
Yet, when coronavirus sceptics see a post telling us that face masks do not work, they quickly forward it. They are even circulating the infantile analogy on efforts to check the spread of Covid-19 by Nigeria’s Kogi State governor and alleged aspirant to the presidency, ta-ta-ta-ta exponent, Yahaya Bello! His sense-ellency, explained in an interview with multiple award-winning Channels TV that you do not need to put on your heater in Nigeria when it is winter. According to Yahaya, heaters are only useful in the West, so we should not use “cut-and-paste” solutions like lockdown and masks to check covid-19 in Africa. I’m not sure if that is with the exception of South Africa where there is bitter winter between the months of May and August. Can somebody please explain to Yahaya that winter does not spread beyond geographical boundaries? A New York resident travelling home for Christmas and New Year holidays does not bring winter with him to his village in Nigeria. But a coronavirus-positive traveller would start distributing the disease from the airport to his final destination. One would have thought that this is simple enough to understand.
In the said interview, Yahaya said there was no case of Covid-19 in Kogi state and boasted, “I have taken a position and I don’t think I see myself shifting from that position any time soon or ever.” According to the NCDC, Nigeria currently has at least 88,500 confirmed cases and 1,294 deaths from Covid-19 of which Kogi state has at least 5 active cases and 2 recorded deaths. I am not sure Governor Bello has officially challenged the figures. Rather, he keeps claiming that there is no case of Covid-19 in Kogi state. Like Trump, Yahaya subscribes to the weird belief that if there is no testing there will be no cases. So, very little testing is done in Kogi state. We can only hope that such an approach will not boomerang.
We have read that even the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic that wiped out between 20 and 50 million people globally, including some 675, 000 Americans, was checked by the wearing of face masks. Well, if you’ve not, you can read about it here: https://www.history.com/topics/world-war-i/1918-flu-pandemic. That was 102 years ago. Who or what is messing with our brains?
Now, let us pause and use our brains a little bit. Is coronavirus still fake, even after it has claimed the lives of one in every 1000 Americans? Are the disease control agencies of all countries in the world so dumb that they do not know by now that it is an artificial viral disease caused by 5G? One of the latest conspiracy theories is that vaccines were developed and funded by the world’s foremost infectious disease expert Dr Tony Fauci, and billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates to depopulate the world, though these two had previously saved millions of lives globally through their individual interventions. One wonders whether the depopulation scheme has taken off in the US where coronavirus has claimed more than one percent of its population – more than the combined population of two countries in Africa – São Tomé and Príncipe and Seychelles!
History of vaccines
Vaccines have been around for over 200 years. The world’s first vaccine (the smallpox vaccine) was created by Edward Jenner in the 1790s. Neither Anthony Fauci nor Bill Gates’ parents were born then. But today, we are hearing warped stories about vaccines as if Bill Gates introduced vaccines into the world.
A vaccine developed by Dr. Jonas Salk was declared “safe and effective” in 1955. It was funded by March of Dimes, a United States non-profit organization that works to improve the health of mothers and babies, founded by President Franklin D. Roosevelt (FDR) in 1938, as the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis. FDR is famous for the New Deal; the massive infrastructure renewal programme that provided jobs for Americans and delivered the country from the post-world war Great Depression. Though paralysed from a disease thought at the time to be poliomyelitis, FDR remains the only US president to have served a third term.
By way of comparison, President Donald Trump is set to become one of the few US presidents to serve only one term and to have been impeached during that single term. He contracted Covid-19, a viral disease like polio, but rather than tackle it head on, he downplayed it for personal political gain. But that is another matter.
To be continued in Part 2.
From Random Thoughts: A Collection of Essays and Poems By Tony Ekata