Govt could have procured our vaccines but chose to beg

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Five boys provided maternal guidance, from an inexperience and tender age aunt, still visible in our high definition despite the passage of time. For the frequent reminders of ‘poverty but proud’ have been permanently etched in my memory. For the imagery of our worn, wrinkle-free and stove-ironed clothes, eternally on my retina. For the Bata shoes, frequently mended but forever thoroughly clean. For the little we shared among us. For five sat circular with a half filled bowl that the eldest shared with a ticking spoon, akin to the hand of a clock. For the adage regardless the urgency of the need, begging was forbidden. For this we were taught. Was taught to be independent and independent we are. But more importantly. To self-pride be forever wedded.

Independence

And the narrative is, we battled the British tooth and nail for our independence. But this narrative is now in question for the prevailing theory being independent was ours since financially we no longer benefited the Empire.

For 1945, Britain was in ruin, living and dying the devastating consequence of World War 2. The infrastructure was annihilated by German’s bombs. Half a million lay dead. Food was in short supply as the citizenry faced long food-lines. Depression was painfully obvious, for the monies siphoned off from the colonies, were expended on resisting the maniac Hitler. And it was against this backdrop that the independence cry filled the skies. But the astute Empire balanced their economic plight in the context of diminishing returns from the Caribbean. And the conclusion arrive at was, independence will benefit both sides. Give them independence and a permanent state of disarray. But the transition must be without suspicion. Their independence must not be seen as the Empire offloading. To this end the Empire employed a few locals, aptly titled independence fighters, within whose hands independence was delivered. And to this day the narrative of “snatching our independence from the hands of the British” is told ad nauseam, at independence ceremonies. But this must be provocatively queried. Would Guyana have had independence in 1966, if oil was discovered in 1965?

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Dependence

Tragically Covid has abbreviated the lives of millions. Smart doctors recognised from the first cough in Wuhan, that our hope rests with vaccines. And this they communicated to the Pharmaceutical companies, catalysing frenetic vaccine development operations. Leaders elected to protect, invested billions in vaccine procurement, for they recognised the existential threat posed by Covid. And as leaders awaited vaccines, they ensured that the populace was protected, for vaccines are useless in dead bodies. For face-mask use they enforced. Social distancing demarcated. Social gatherings outlawed. Quarantining and self-isolating monitored. Lockdowns to lockout and lockup the virus. But as forward-thinking leaders enforced public health practices, awaiting their procured vaccines, PPP was busy placing tens of $billions in the coffin of the dead Sugar Industry. A Sugar Industry that drew its last breath under Jagdeo’s stewardship.

Indeed the Oxford University AstraZeneca vaccine cost $800 per dose. Two $billion dollars could have procured 2.5M doses. This could have vaccinated both Guyana and Barbados. But vaccines weren’t apart of PPP plan, rather spending $billions massaging the arrested heart of the Sugar Industry was paramount. For inconsequential vaccines will be addressed by their reliable red begging bowl. The very begging bowl Bruce Golding used to disparage Bharrat Jagdeo. The very begging bowl that vaccine passerby can deposit pittance.

COVAX, a collector of pittance for beggars, was first to deposit 104K doses of AstraZeneca in the PPP beggar bowl. Embarrassingly, the doses are valued at $312K; a term private school tuition fee. Next were the Chinese who deposited 20,000 doses of their Sinopharm. A mysterious vaccine of mysterious efficacy with mysterious side effects that remain hidden in their labs. Now this mysterious vaccine is being questioned by many for which the Chinese will retort, beggars cannot be choosers. But Dr. Frank Anthony is sure to demystify the secrecy of Sinopharm by educating the public of its safety profile. Now demoralisingly for the Covid scared masses, after months of begging, a deficit of 1M doses is still outstanding, for which the PPP promised to procure104K doses through a CARICOM-African Union pact. Unbelievable!

But the motherland India, refused to be outdone by the Africans, swiftly deposited 500K doses of their Covaxin in the beggar bowl. But Covaxin has a shady history but don’t take my word, take the words of All India Drug Action Network, “We are baffled to understand the scientific logic to approve an incompletely studied vaccine. We have intense concerns arising from the absence of the efficacy data.”

Certainly, I wrote a column titled, “Trump’s disinformation campaign and the Covid vaccine,” in which I outlined the established international standard for clinical trials having three phases. But India set their own standards, disregarding international best practices. For they aborted the Covaxin trials at Phase 2, depositing their poorly-studied vaccines into third-world countries begging bowls with the unsuspecting masses becoming their Phase-3 international guinea pigs.

And it gets worse. Dinesh Thakur a former pharmaceutical executive and drugmaker at Ranbaxy Laboratory expressed this view, “There are many unanswered questions because of the total opaqueness and lack of accountability,” Then he opined, “One thing is abundantly clear: They have successfully now created a significant anti-vaccine movement in India.” Hence the reason 500K doses ended up in our beggar bowl.

Further, an article in the Business Insider on Jan 4th also raised serious concerns, “No matter what Bharat Biotech says, Covaxin is just not ready for approvals.” The article was scathing of the Indian regulators. And these concerns about Covaxin aren’t confined to India, it is world-wide. Surely, Dr. Frank Anthony will reassure the public, looking into his crystal ball, revealing the safety profile of Covaxin.

Now the deficit still stands at 1M doses, with 104K doses, excluding the Covaxin and Sinopharm vaccines which aren’t safe for humans, in the begging bowl.

Independent Dependence

Are we truly independent when the Americans can take over our country and our elections? Are we truly independent when we depend on the American pittance to finance our elections? Are we truly independent when the Canadians can treat us like their lackeys because from their pockets the election recount was paid? Are we truly independent when the arrogant and obnoxious former Canadian High Commissioner, who is low on diplomacy and much lower on tact, can crash our election commissioners’ meeting, barking instructions to one and all? Are we truly independent when the British can incredulously state only recount numbers are acceptable, even as the court ponders it’s legally?

Begging for disrespect

Indeed we brought this disrespect upon ourselves. We beg them. We accept their pittance. PPP could have procured our vaccines but chose to beg. But begging births disrespect. For this must be the reason we are disrespected all around the Caribbean. Depressing. Beggars belief. LFSB must be turning in his grave.



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