THE CIRCULAR

What is it with the vaccines?

Photo by Martin Sanchez on Unsplash

Apathy to vaccination is perhaps as old as vaccination itself, but the novelty of the COVID-19 virus has brought with a novelty of sorts on vaccine apathy. There is a new vigor about the resistance towards the vaccines which was not overtly visible with vaccinations in times past.

The reasons for the above is not particularly known but the idea that this is probably the first time a vaccine has been created for a worldwide health issue, or in proper terms, a pandemic is a legitimate area of study on why these sort of reactions and polarization have followed the vaccines. There have been vaccines for measles, polio and some other issues which have affected select groups or people in remote locations, but perhaps none has swept through the whole world in the way or manner which the COVID-19 has, it is perhaps a fait accompli that the COVID-19 vaccines should be met with the same global hysteria.

As of May 3, 2022 65.5% of the world population has received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. That the greater majority of these are in the developed economies suggests either a lack of access in the developing world, or maybe apathy against the vaccine. And in factual figures, only about 15.7% of people in low-income countries have received at least one dose. Now, while this is the case, a careful look will show that even among developed countries, apathy towards the vaccine is more common among low-income earners. In China for example, while 80% of people in the high income earners have received the vaccine, only 15% of the low-income earners have done the same.

The attitude to vaccination itself mirrors the attitude to testing. On the scale of a thousand people, in the United States of America, 1.66 persons per thousand are tested weekly, in South Africa the average weekly figure is 0.38 tests per thousand people, in Nigeria it is as low as 0.05 tests per thousand people, while in the United Arab Emirates it goes as high as 24.82 tests per thousand. There are a number of variables which may be behind these differing figures. These may include population density, healthcare standard, and GDP, however, the recurring decimal is that poorer countries do not have good numbers with both testing and vaccination.

One sentiment over which many have held reservations about the vaccines is that there have been cases of infection among even those who are fully-vaccinated, and boosted. It raises the question of what value the vaccines have if they cannot stop infections. Many are rather willing to trust their natural immunity than take a vaccine which to them has yet to convince the world of its effectiveness.

One or another excuse has been made since the early days of the vaccines, one was that if everyone got vaccinated, then there would be a herd immunity. Another was that the unvaccinated were putting the unvaccinated at risk. the argument here is that if the vaccines worked, then the vaccinated had nothing to worry about since vaccines by definition are designed to stop people from getting infected. But that if the vaccinated could still get infected, then clearly the vaccines were not working. The excuse here is often that while the vaccine could not stop infection, it gave the sick a fighting chance of beating COVID-19. These are clearly back and forths, but it remains to be seen if there will be a change in attitude towards vaccination, or if the biotechnology and pharmacy companies can verifiably prove the vaccines to be effective in stopping the transmission of the COVID-19 virus.

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