Chinese jabs to the rescue | Daily News

Chinese jabs to the rescue

First there were vaccine passports, then there was vaccine politics, and now there is vaccine diplomacy. This is a sampling the new terminology that entered the public discourse with the advent of Covid. This country has had a heavy dose of vaccine politics, what with some doctors enabling their family members to break the vaccine queue for the love of “me and mine”.

That was bad, but what could have been worse would have been a shortage of Covid vaccines in the long term. There is no such fear now, as this country was among the first to make available the Chinese Sinopharm injection for mass vaccination.

Today, very much after our policymakers took that decision, there is talk in the West of “vaccine diplomacy” with China to ensure that the major part of the world population is vaccinated with Chinese manufactured jabs playing a major part in the vaccine mix. The think-tanks of the West are clear on this. Just six percent of the world population has had the jabs so far, which means that the major distance has not been remotely covered with regard to herd immunity from the injections.

On June 2, the World Health Organization (WHO) gave the go-ahead for the Chinese Sinovac vaccine for Emergency Use. This puts to shame those sundry pundits here who first voiced needless alarm when the Sri Lankan Government decided that Chinese vaccines can be used for Covid prevention.

As for vaccine diplomacy, the term was first used in the global media in a derogatory manner in an attempt to demonize the Chinese as trying to use the vaccines for purposes of wielding influence over various countries in dire need of Covid preventive measures. But to the chagrin of the pessimists that coined the term, the WHO has now decided that Chinese manufactured jabs should play a major part in the vaccine rollouts that would follow in the next few months, to ensure that Covid is stopped in its tracks.

The initial resistance to the Chinese vaccinations has disappeared in light of the fact that the surge of Covid in India has made some of the other vaccines such as Oxford AstraZeneca, extremely scarce. Necessity knows no law, and it is clear now that the vested interests that wanted to stigmatize the use of the Chinese Sinopharm and other injections have had a change of heart due to the fact that lives of people are on the line in their countries.

It is a shame that words such as vaccine diplomacy had to be bandied about earlier to frame the Chinese contribution to the eradication of Covid as somehow having sinister political undertones. At the very least, in the face of a critical pandemic that has had untold repercussions on world economies, it is incumbent upon the media and various opinion-makers to act with a greater sense of responsibility.

Everything cannot be used for purposes of politics and the commentators in certain global media seemed to have learnt that the hard way. It is correct that there are various questions that remain about the clinical efficacy of the Chinese vaccine(s) for the over 60 population for instance, since these vaccines were rolled out for Emergency Use.

But so have the other vaccines made in the West. There is absolutely no reason to look at the Chinese jabs through a different prism when the issues of vaccine risks, so-called, are considered.

Various health experts abroad have now opined that there is no risk in mixing vaccines when there is an urgent requirement for a second dose. It means that those who had the Pfizer vaccine for instance could reasonably expect good results if they take a different jab such as the Astra Zeneca as their second dose.

This is due to issues of unavailability. The same practice could be followed in Sri Lanka as well with the Chinese jabs being used as second doses when there is no other alternative due to the scarcity of the Astra Zeneca vaccine that was given to many individuals as the first dose.

There is another brand of vaccine politics that also needs some special mention here. The Chinese are made easy fodder by certain crafty Opposition types these days because they feel it is easy to paint the nation as being an economic predator.

These China critics are not merely opportunistic, but are also extremely hypocritical. There is no doubt that many of these individuals making noises about the so-called Chinese presence in this country rolled up their sleeves to obtain a dose of the China-made vaccine.

Fear of disease and death comes before all other crafty manipulations, and people have no shame in jumping queues and subjecting themselves to various contortions just to get a chance of obtaining priority on the vaccine line. However, people should display some semblance of a moral compass.

If they have no qualms about using a Chinese-made vaccine and protecting themselves this way, they should think twice before needlessly vilifying the Chinese to realize their petty political ends.

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