In this time of Covid, we need God, hope – and the vaccine

Columnist Phiri Cawe

If we ever needed God, it is now.

When will life return to “normal“?

As we start to emerge from the second wave of Covid infections, there is already talk of a third wave. And so now, more than ever, we need proper leadership.

Last Friday afternoon, as I was trying to decide whether to do a piece on Valentine’s Day or rather on the long awaited vaccine, a friend called to say let us hike up Table Mountain on Saturday to run away from drunken township life for a while. He said he was tired of seeing young, drunk kids on weekends.

As I was still pondering all of this, I heard the news the vaccine would expire in April and the roll-out of the AstraZeneca vaccine had been put on hold.

This would have raised more concerns for those who were already reluctant to take the jab and vindicated the Doubting Thomases of this world.

All the contradictions and confusion around access to and distribution of the Covid-19 vaccines help none of us and only serve to play into the hands of the denialists and so-called anti-vaxxers. And adding to the confusion are the debates around contraversial treatments and natural remedies.

And let’s not even get started about the different vaccines currently available.

While I do not wish to be counted among those who criticise the vaccine, I need to ask why government allowed the vaccination programme to get off to such a disastrous start.

I was excited when the vaccine doses arrived at OR Tambo at the beginning of the month and looked forward to its rollout across the country, and the possibility of people getting their lives back.

Before, my only question was when we will get the Covid-19 vaccine. Now I’m also wondering about corruption, who will get the tenders related to vaccines, how safe will it be and how much is our government going to spend on its vaccination programme.

For a while, my excitement about the vaccine had enabled me to forget about corruption – the Personal Protection Equipment scandal came to mind – and I wondered if there was a way to ensure government officials didn’t prioritise themselves or their families for vaccination.

All of this notwithstanding, I had never imagined we’ have a vaccine so soon and I was looking forward to being vaccinated. What we need now is for government to answer all the questions being asked by those who have lost loved ones to Covid-19. These include questions about funeral protocols: Do you have to cover the coffin/casket, should the dead be brought inside the house or hall or not? The grief suffered by the families and friends of the people lost to the pandemic cannot be measured. They deserve explanation. They deserve the truth surrounding the vaccine and how we came to acquire one that turned out to be unsuitable.

Over and above all of this, however, I do not wish to be vaccinated against optimism and belief in love. So, let me not ignore that this weekend, many lovebirds will be celebrating Valentine’s Day. To those who acknowledge this commercial celebration of love, let not even the Xhosa Men’s Association’s recent announcement that the day should not be celebrated because there are more pressing issues like the Covid19, discourage you.

So go ahead and celebrate love and life – safely, of course.