The UK embassy in Zimbabwe sets social media ablaze with its Covid-19 vaccine offer to Zimbabwe. This was revealed when British Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Melanie Robinson, paid a courtesy call on Vice President and Minister of Health and Child Care Dr Constantino Chiwenga. Britain has offered to vaccinate 20 percent of Zimbabwe’s vulnerable population against the Covid-19. This however, triggered a hot debate on social media as the gesture was received with mixed feelings.
The first group is of the opinion that, the UK vaccine will “cure the nation” helping Zimbabwe to get rid of the negative effects of Covid-19 in less than a week or a month. However, the other group holds pessimism ideas arguing that, the vaccine seems futile against the Covid-19 that is killing of thousands of people every day. Both ideas can be explained by supporting evidence, but are too extreme and lack analogy thinking.
For the first group, which is for the vaccine, believes that the UK vaccine will swiftly remove the negative impacts of the COVID-19 (e.g getting rid of the lockdown), is completely understandable for them to think that way. In an article titled ‘Muslim Scientists Behind Pfizer’s Successful COVID-19 Vaccine’ published in November 9, 2020, Pfizer announced that the COVID-19 vaccine developed by them is more than 90 percent effective.
However, it is necessary for one to take a closer look at the events in the U.K. The UK has already secured large numbers of doses of vaccines developed by Pfizer and BioNTech, with vaccination process going on but new strains of COVId-19 are becoming common, COVID-19 deaths and positive cases increasing on a daily basis and they have announced a more stricter lockdown called tier 4.
This is a clear signal to everyone that the vaccine is not elixir. Neither is it capable of curing all ailments nor protect vaccinated people 100 percent safe, thus, it is still necessary for people to follow the lockdown restriction rules in order to keep safe.
Another interesting opinion came up, with another group arguing that the vaccine may have little effect in Zimbabwe basing their justification on the US situation. They are of the opinion that, the US is the most developed country in the world in all aspects but has failed to effectively reduce the spread of the virus, with death cases surpassing 320 000 despite the fact that they introduced the vaccine in November.
Comparing Zimbabwe and the US, the Zimbabwe health system is not as effective and efficient as the US’s and this group has concluded that, Zimbabwe’s attempt to reduce the impact of the pandemic using the vaccine would be a failure just like in the US or even worse.
This argument seems unassailable, but when one thinks deeper, one will find out that this group is blindfolded. People must admit that the US is the most developed country today including medical technology.
But its government lacks the ability to persuade its people to follow the simple restriction rules such as social distancing. Due to the extreme belief of ‘right to freedom’. Some US citizens are still hosting house parties, some still think it’s a hoax, refusing to admit the existence of Covid-19 and adhere to simple rules such as wearing masks saying that there are 5g chips in them which will help the government to spy on them.
On Thanksgiving Day thousands of demonstrators burnt thousands of masks at the Washington Square. Provided with this evidence, one can conclude that, it is not the lack of medical technology or doses of vaccine that lead the US to the growing death cases, but the lack of adherence to social restrictions.
Back to the UK Covid-19 vaccine, we may not meanly assume that Zimbabweans will reject the vaccine and the medical care just like some Trump supporters in the US. Even if the Zimbabwean government is ready to consensually vaccinate its people, it should not merely depend and wait on the vaccine offered by the UK.
The courtesy call paid by the UK Ambassador to Zimbabwe Melanie Robinson seems meaningful and significant but left more questions than answers. During the courtesy call she only mentioned the necessity to vaccinate the vulnerable, the manufacturers of the vaccine which are Pfizer and BioNTech, that its ‘safe and effective’ and the fact that the UK had already put $700 million into making sure that the most vulnerable population of lower middle income countries are vaccinated. It is indeed a kind and friendly offer, but she omitted the most important information, when the vaccine will be available; whether it will be donated or sold or through what way they will be transported to Zimbabwe? We hope and believe that the UK will efficiently answer these questions.
While waiting for the UK vaccine, Zimbabwe should be open to other options and look into other countries that are developing or have already developed vaccines such as the US, Germany and China.
Looking at China for instance, it is the most experienced and successful nation in fighting against the Covid-19 pandemic. On December 02, 2020 the Vice premier of China Sun ChunLan announced that China has made significant progress in the research and development of COVID-19 vaccines, with five vaccines already entering the phrase-III clinical trials.
All these vaccines by China are reported by the media to be around 95 percent in terms of their effectiveness.
By December 24, 2020, 180 thousand people in the Guangdong province of China were vaccinated and no serious side effects were reported making the vaccines more reliable and trustworthy. With this in mind, it is advisable for Zimbabwe not to put all its eggs in one basket but to cast its net wide.
In a nutshell, one can conclude that both, the social restriction rules and COVID-19 vaccines are necessary in the fight against the pandemic. Thus it is doubtful whether the pandemic can be removed without either the introduction of the vaccine or strict social restrictions.