Sunday, December 27, 2020

The Perils of a Hasty Mission to Win Immunity


Letitita Wright, who rose to fame with her star making turn in Black Panther, posted a link to a YouTube video which raised questions about the Covid – 19 vaccine. Needless to say, Wright was savaged on social media, accused of endorsing unscientific viewpoints and supporting anti – vaccine propaganda. For her part, the actor remained unapologetic and defended her post saying that that there was no intention to hurt anyone and all she had done was air concerns about what the vaccine contained and about what we are being asked to inject into our bodies. Ultimately though, when the tsunami of criticism proved unrelenting she deleted her social media accounts.

I can’t say my understanding of the scientific details pertaining to vaccinations are sound and must confess to an abhorrence of needles although I am not against vaccination itself and think Edward Jenner’s contribution is invaluable. Even so, I have serious doubts about a vaccine for which the trials, tests, research and analysis have taken place at breakneck pace. Pfizer/BioNTech, whose product is being administered to people around the world have emphasized that none of the steps have been skipped, necessary approvals from regulatory bodies have been obtained, the vaccine uses bits of genetic code (mRNA) to build immunity against Covid, and has largely proved to be effective and safe.

So far, so good. But if like me, you have read John Le Carre’s excellent The Constant Gardener, you will be seriously worried about the dark side of Big Pharma. It is well known that pharmaceutical giants have a track record of offering fat incentives to doctors, health care providers and pharma sales reps to promote their iffy drugs. Aggressive, multi – million-dollar marketing by drug makers has led to a proven pattern of over – diagnosis, prescription and drug abuse.

Let us also take a moment to remember the lawsuits lodged against pharmaceuticals, shedding light on fraudulent, illegal conduct that has endangered public health. Global pharma has a long history of shelling out big bucks to settle allegations of criminal wrongdoing, falsifying data and wrongfully promoting drugs beyond a licensed condition. In 2009 and 2012, Pfizer paid billions to settle criminal and civil liabilities for illegally promoting drugs, submitting false claims, bypassing insurance agencies, bribing government officials, hospital administrators, doctors as well as members of regulatory and purchasing committees in countries across the world.

Yet we are keen to place our trust in these pharmaceutical companies because we have had it with 2020 which has been the suckiest year in recent memory and can’t wait for 2021 where armed with immunization from a miracle vaccine we can stride forth boldly into a mask – free existence without worrying endlessly about infection and death. Even if it means being hasty and endangering ourselves further.

This article was published in The New Indian Express.


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