One year on, as the world marks an undesirable anniversary

BY: Ajoa Yeboah-Afari
COVID has wrecked a lot havoc to the world
COVID has wrecked a lot havoc to the world

I wonder if the original ‘doubting Thomas’ had some unknown offspring in this country in his earlier life.

Owing to the amount of scepticism here about the coronavirus vaccine, of ‘doubting Thomas’ proportions, who would have thought that Ghanaians would actually be queuing up patiently to get vaccinated?

A ‘doubting Thomas’, as Bible readers know, “is one who is habitually doubtful … The term alludes to the disciple Thomas, who doubted Jesus's resurrection until he had first-hand evidence of it.”

Some vaccine opposers relate their hostile stance to bizarre conspiracy theories, notably that whites want to get rid of blacks through the injections!

Others say they mistrust the safety of the vaccines because they have been produced so quickly, as against the normal long duration of work on producing a vaccine.

However, a knowledgeable source gives the explanation that because of afflictions like the Ebola and the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome or SARS, vaccine research has always been ongoing and so there was some groundwork to base the Covid-19 vaccine work on.

It was to assure the public of the safety of the vaccine, that on March 1, the day before the start of the national rollout of the vaccination exercise, President Akufo-Addo was the first to take the jab on live television, followed by First Lady Rebecca.

Similarly, Vice-President Alhaji Dr Mahamudu Bawumia and his wife, Samira, also had their shots.

Former President John Mahama and his wife, Lordina, as well as former President John Agyekum Kufuor all took the injection.

The Ashanti Region exercise, too, began with the Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II and wife Lady Julia being inoculated.

It’s hard to believe that the devastating pandemic has been with us for a whole year!

The first anniversary fell this week.

It was on March 11, 2020 that the World Health Organization declared Covid 19 a pandemic, a disease that spreads globally.

But it was certainly not a red-letter day, or a pleasant commemoration.

It was an undesirable anniversary.

Because of the Ghanaian penchant for cynicism, it’s a wonder that any leader is able to introduce any new idea.

Even the most potentially beneficial initiative is usually met with such strong opposition and derision from the naysayers that a faint-hearted leader could be discouraged and abandon the proposal.

Fortunately for Ghana, President Nana Akufo-Addo is no faint heart.

Indeed, he continues to demonstrate that he is an inspired leader.

As the President pointed out in his State of the Nation Address last Tuesday, March 9, referring to the Government’s pragmatic Covid-response arrangements for schools which had worked out well, despite the strong criticisms from some quarters: “I am required to provide leadership, and that is what I am doing” (emphasis added).

Clearly, it was because of the preparation and innovative approach of the Akufo-Addo administration that Ghana was chosen as the first country in the world to benefit from the free vaccine under the COVAX Facility.

COVAX, or the ‘COVID-19 Vaccine Global Access’ is an initiative by the WHO and partners to provide vaccines to the world's most vulnerable.

On February 24, Ghana took delivery of 600,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

A few days ago, 50,0000 more doses were received, kindly donated by the Government of India.

More doses are expected.

Thankfully, courtesy of the drone delivery service spearheaded by the President in April, 2019, again against a flood of criticisms as well as mockery by the Thomases, even the hard to reach areas of the country are getting their vaccines by drones.

Going by the reassurance by the experts, when we come out of this global public health crisis doubtless it will be thanks to the vaccine – and, of course, God who gave the scientists the knowledge to produce the vaccine.

Well, I, too, have had my jab and, happily, I can state that I have experienced only minor side effects, mostly headaches. Still, it turned out to be a kind of anticlimax as the injection itself was just a light sensation, a hardly felt pin prick.

The surprisingly high patronage at the clinic where I got my jab, prompted one similarly bemused compatriot to exclaim in mock anger: “Ei, Ghanaians! Are you not the people who said you wouldn’t go for the vaccine?! How come so many of you are here?” People only smiled at him or laughed.

Interestingly, seemingly, the ‘cool’ thing now is for people to show their ‘vaccine credentials’, by taking selfies with their ‘COVID-19 VACCINATION CARD’ and circulating the photo on social media.

Hopefully, all those avoiding the vaccine in Ghana, and elsewhere, will soon be persuaded to take their jab so that others are protected; to stop the spread.

Official sources indicate that by October 20 million of Ghana’s population of 31 million should have been vaccinated.

Notably, praise continues to come from many quarters for Ghana’s handling of the pandemic.

Earlier this week, an online newsletter ‘the conversation.com’, writing on the response of governments to the pandemic highlighted South Korea and Ghana for commendation. On Ghana, the article said:

“The Ghanaian President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, took responsibility for coronavirus policy …. Simple demonstration of empathy earned him high acclaim within his nation and also around the world.

‘“We know how to bring the economy back to life. What we don’t know is how to bring people back to life,’ (President Akufo-Addo) famously said,”’ the writer stated.

One prays that in the not too distant future this coronavirus nightmare will be behind us and we will be able to recollect this period with not too many tears; and maybe even some laughter.

In the meantime, the hope is that more vaccines can be acquired to cover all the 20 million; and that the opponents, too, will be persuaded to take the vaccine, if not for their own good, for the benefit of the rest of the society.

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