Vax pax

LOOKING ASKANCE - Joseph Gonzales (The Freeman) - December 13, 2020 - 12:00am

To vax or not. That seems to be the burning question among us Pinoys while chit-chatting over our coffees or to our laptops and tablets.

Some friends declare that they will wait and see. They intend to check out what happens to those jabbed first, and then if those poor saps do not become zombies, then they may offer their now-enlarged biceps (after so much free time working out with dumbbells) to the sacrifice altar.

Given that there are reports that, during Pfizer’s vaccine trials in America, the faces of some volunteers suddenly got paralyzed in some kind of bizarre Bell’s palsy reaction, much like what we saw in “Train to Busan” or “World War Z”, and that allergic reactions were observed from UK recipients of the same vaccine, I sort of gravitate towards that camp. (Yes, fear is also sort of driving that decision.)

Other friends, however, are more optimistic. They want to be the first to roll up their sleeves and bare their arms, ready to be pricked.

A coalition of private businesses seems to be in that latter camp, somehow managing, under the aegis of being government advisers, to sign a deal with Astra Zeneca to purchase 2.6 million doses. Seeing that two doses are needed per person, that 2.6 million doses will suffice for only one percent of the population, so guess who those 1.3 million people will be?

That private coalition, led by Concepcion Industries’ Jose Concepcion, has seen to it that government has no cause for complaint, as not only will the coalition foot the entire bill, but the purchase order will then be split between the government and the private sector.

Smart. That way, the strategically-placed businessmen will get to ensure that they, I mean, their employees, will get a first shot at protection from the coronavirus, while government will then figure out on its own who to give the free doses to. Presumably, that will mean the health frontliners, the vulnerable sectors, and the peace and order enforcers, but given that this is government we are talking about, let’s see how well it messes things up.

Meanwhile, China is using its vaccine diplomacy to peddle its tech while pushing its agenda, with SinoVac, a Chinese manufacturer, already pledged to send some doses over to the coconut isles. I hope the dosages include some resistance to Chinese propaganda in their formulation, but as they say, it’s not yet Christmas. (And the Chinese don’t believe in Santa too.)

In a report by AFP (I mean Agence France Presse, not our military), China is ready to splash vaccines all over Africa, the Middle East, and Asia as part of its geopolitical strategy, but the lack of transparency in its product trials and its shoddy manufacturing reputation are giving nations cold feet. Thus far, China has less than half a billion vaccine orders, while Astra Zeneca alone has more than 2.4 billion pre-orders.

Indonesia was first in line, though, receiving 1.2 million doses already from SinoVac. That shipment was apparently designated for Bali, which means Joko Widodo probably wants to make those heathens in Bali his first test subjects. (If anything goes wrong, he can cut off that sybaritic island from the rest of the faithful). Turkey is next, with a 50 million dose order in the works.

I would give Chinese vaccines a pass in the meantime, the sight of Chinese civilians lining up for hours just to get jabbed notwithstanding. Meanwhile, let’s watch what happens to the Balinese and the Turks, and if all goes well, and there are no reports of sudden communist outbreaks, perhaps we can deem the Chinese vaccine safe.

2021 is around the corner, and here we are still cowering in our bubbles. Will the vaccine give us peace of mind, or even more anxieties? While we wrestle with that question, let’s order some more face masks, shall we?

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