How COVID-19 takes advantage of vaccine race

A colorized scanning electron micrograph of an apoptotic cell (green) heavily infected with Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 virus particles (purple), isolated from a patient sample, at the NIAID Integrated Research Facility (IRF) in Fort Detrick, Maryland. (Photo by National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases)

Human beings having several, competing vaccines may be the last thing they need and the first thing the coronavirus wants.

Instead of pooling expertise, manpower and financial resources to create one single vaccine that works best, human beings have been trying to outdo one another when they should not have, and thus come up with flawed drugs separately that might be prompting and allowing the coronavirus to mutate to devastating effects.

Utmost unity may sound idealistic, made impossible by the reality of politics at the highest level of the world. But, in fact, science demands it.

All scientists know that the line between extinction and continuation is very thin. For a species to evolve successfully, it must first negotiate a dangerous tightrope. Falling will lead to the absolute end, meaning the species will disappear from the face of the earth forever. Passing does not only mean survival, but also bigger strength.

It’s evolution’s basic rule. For survivors, fangs and claws will get sharper. Legs will run faster. Hair will be thicker. “Delta” will emerge.

Different vaccines causing various kinds of political, economic, diplomatic, commercial as well as public health problems give what the coronavirus wants exactly. The imperfect vaccines allow the virus to shed its liabilities one by one and come up with variants that are slicker and more powerful each time.

Humans study and know everything about evolution, but the knowledge has yet to turn into wisdom when the coronavirus is concerned. The virus should have been annihilated instead of given just enough challenges and time to evolve into something “better.”

Side effects are making many people scared of certain vaccines. The “efficacy” concern is causing some to favor one drug more than the others. But why are some countries boasting vaccine innovations still recording tens of thousands of infections each and each day. Why does a discredited vaccine seem to work well in a populous and vast nation?

Political and commercial interests are adding to the problematic picture, if not causing it in the first place.

Through all these, the coronavirus has been able to zigzag and adjust itself accordingly. Truth is no vaccine is perfect at the moment and it’s benefiting the virus. Every day there are reports about blood clots, heart inflammations, infections of inoculated people and so on. Now, Pfizer suggests its two doses need a “booster” shot or immunity will wane.

Another issue of the hour is the question of whether receivers mixing the vaccines is good or bad.

The “mixing” question tells a thousand words. It underlines the facts that no brand works completely at the moment and that the world would have had a far better vaccine had humans truly worked as a team. That single vaccine could have annihilated the virus, been safer, been supported by all politicians, been advocated by all the media, and taken away much of public confusion and fear.

The World Health Organisation this week has voiced strong objections to the “booster shot” idea. The agency, however, focused on fears that the “vaccine apartheid” will get worse, leaving poor populations further behind, and alluded to possible commercial and political motives in the proposal. It did not mention the likelihood of intensified competitions playing into the coronavirus’ hands evolution-wise.

A booster dose does not make sense if it is given to selected recipients. Squabbling, confusion and politicization will just give the variants more time to regroup, further mutate, attack weaker people and spread among them. By the time the variants return to the “booster” population with sharpened claws, thicker skins and improved stealth, a “fourth dose” idea could be up in the air.

“What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” is a human favorite quote, but, as it turns out, that statement has been ignored by many people who matter.

By Tulsathit Taptim


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