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It’s too soon to expect the vaccines to save us

Erna Mahyuni / Malay Mail Share:
A medical worker inoculates a recipient with the second dose of COVID-19 vaccine at a temporary vaccination site in Haidian District of Beijing, capital of China, on Jan. 31, 2021. Xinhua

My birthday is next week and for me, the best gift is knowing that the first batch of Covid-19 vaccines will arrive in Sabah the same day.

Yet even though our numbers seem to be dropping and Sabah’s cases have finally fallen to two-digits for the first time in four months, I would still advise caution.

The Covid-19 variant first detected in the UK has apparently been spreading globally and is said to be far more lethal than the original.

It’s terrifying to think about, considering how devastating the original strain was.

Yet before the vaccine has even reached half the UK population, already businesses there are clamouring for a reopening plan. The same is happening in Germany, despite the high numbers and vaccines not being as available.

I question the decision to create a travel bubble with, of all countries, Indonesia, which has the highest numbers of cases in South-east Asia and averages over 200 deaths a day.

What does it say when Singapore decides it’s too risky to continue the reciprocal green lane programme with us but Indonesia is not?

I think that unfortunately those in power may be regarding deaths as “acceptable losses” that cannot be helped.

My stance has been, from the beginning, that even one death is too many.

We know that this disease will hit the poor, immunocompromised, disabled and disenfranchised the hardest. Have we done more to protect them?

Seeing how it is still these people most likely to die from the coronavirus in Malaysia, the answer is clear.

I do not think it is fair or justified to give our elected officials the vaccine first because seeing how some of our Cabinet members keep doing a disappearing act, how are they at risk?

Time and time again, despite assurances there are no double standards in the handling of the vaccine and policing SOPs, those assurances have been proven wrong.

An old man reading a newspaper alone in a park gets a fine, while politicians going out for group walks or gatherings do not even get a notice from the police.

Instead it is left to us to police them — to spread evidence online of powerful figures not bothering to wear masks or observe SOPs.

Now politicians have special lenience for inter-district and inter-state travel; is this not a double standard when many people are turned down for legitimate purposes by overzealous men in blue?

It will be a long time before everyone is vaccinated so until that happens, Covid-19 will remain a looming threat.

I do not expect to be vaccinated this year; at most I will likely get the jab early next year because I am not high-risk, and that does not bother me.

 

What does bother me is that being vaccinated will make some of those in power think that it will be fine for them to travel, socialise and ignore safe-distancing measures with impunity.

Already talk about a coming general election grows louder and again, we will be risking the lives of many of our citizens just to get the vote out.

I fear that now the vaccination drive will start, there will be lax enforcement and overconfident politicians shaking hands and “forgetting” to wear masks.

The only advice I can give to other Malaysians is this: stay away from our politicians because it’s obvious they don’t know what’s good for them any more than they know what’s good for us.

 

This is the personal opinion of the columnist. Malay Mail

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