In recent weeks, global media and news channels like Al Jazeera, BBC, CNN and India’s NDTV have been marketing vaccines to the world with images of Prime Ministers, Vice President elects, and a Crown Prince in the Middle East taking a jab live on television– seemingly to encourage Covid-19 vaccine skeptics.
Highly advertised vaccines are being produced and rolled out at ‘warped speed’ by powerful pharmaceutical and bio-technology companies headquartered in Euro-America although their efficacy for the new British and South African variants of the virus, or how long their immunity lasts is not clear. These vaccines have been authorized for ‘emergency use ‘in Europe and North America due to the spike in Covid-19 winter flu cases in the northern hemisphere.
“Vaccine nationalism” and hype seems to be growing with intense competition among Pharmaceutical Corporations and countries that manufacture vaccines and their local partners to secure billion dollar contracts. As the UK-EU vaccine conflict shows there is great competition among big powers – US, EU, Russia, China and UK-India, both to secure vaccines for their citizens, while marketing vaccines to other poorer countries.
India is following suite in the Covid-19 vaccine nationalism race although the numbers of Covid-19 cases have declined dramatically, and there is increasing evidence that New Delhi may have achieved “herd immunity’ given massive crowds and protests on streets by mask-less farmers agitating against the Modi Government’s pro-corporate farm bills which were hastily passed during Covid-19 lockdowns.
In the midst of what some have called “vaccine diplomacy” and others “vaccine wars”, it appears that the data, facts, science, as well as, health and well-being of people in the Global South have received short shrift.
The Sri Lankan Government has just announced a plan to purchase nine million doses of the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine manufactured in India, according to Dr. Amal de Silva, Secretary to the State Ministry of Primary Health Services, Pandemics and COVID Prevention.
However, the AstraZeneca vaccine is only reported to be only 62 percent effective, in comparison to Russia’s Sputnik V which the respected science journal Lancet reports is 92 percent effective, similar to the super expensive US-EU Pfizer-Biontech Vaccine which the World Health Organization rushed to authorize at “warped speed”.
Moreover, the 2020 annual data for Sri Lanka clearly shows that there is no Covid-19 emergency in the country so questions arise as to why the Government is rushing to buy a vaccine that is 65 percent effective and whose long-term side effects are yet unknown?
2020 Annual Data Covid-19 and Seasonal Flu Comparison
Country-specific quantitative and qualitative data now available for many hot and humid tropical South East Asian and African countries for the year 2020, indicate that there is NO Covid-19 emergency in a vast majority of countries in the Global South, and hence little need to rush to buy vaccines. In Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam, Sri Lanka and Tanzania there is a very low incidence of Covid-19 mortality when compared to average annual rates of influenza related deaths.
In Cambodia and Laos there was not a single Covid-19 death in the year 2020, while Vietnam had 34 deaths and Thailand a country of 70 million there were 26 deaths due to the virus in the year 2020 according to the Johns Hopkins University official Covid-19 Data base. Nor have doctors, nurses, PHIs, frontline health workers in quarantine centers lost lives in these Southeast Asian countries, indicating low severity of the disease when compared to Euro-America where lockdowns and curfews did not limit high mortality rates. Nor have industrial, manufacturing or agriculture sector workers died in numbers due to Covid-19 in Southeast Asian countries. Nor were hospitals and intensive care units (ICU), overwhelmed in these countries, where there have been fewer patients in hospitals in 2020 than previous years.
While the Covid-19 virus has spread to all parts of the Global South, it clearly has far less traction in tropical countries than in the so-called ‘first world’ (Euro-America): In Sri Lanka, a country of 22 million there were 204 Covid-19 comorbidities deaths recorded with 35,300 Covid-19 positive tests, although in a normal year between 4,000 and 6000 people die of influenza co-morbidities The luxury 14 floor Asiri Central Hospital in the capital Colombo was closed for weeks during the first Covid-19 lockdown. In India according to WHO data published in 2018, Influenza and Pneumonia Deaths reached 616,531 or 6.99% of total deaths, while lung Disease Deaths were 819,570 or 9.30% of total deaths in 2018, but there were fewer than 150,000 Covid-19 deaths in India in 2020.
Given significant differences in health infrastructure between tropical countries in Global South and Euro-America, the 2020 qualitative and quantitative data clearly shows that Covid-19 is mild in the Global South, since the ‘metric that matters’ to determine the severity of an illness and make effective, targeted policy, national policy is the infection fatality rate (IFC).
However, economically, socially and politically devastating curfews, lockdowns and isolation policies were introduced in these tropical countries on the ‘advice’ of the WHO, resulting in fear, isolation, stigmatization of patients living in crowded and poor neighborhoods, and increasing poverty and inequality. Many low income and poor countries fell into bigger debt traps and Governments were urged to sell off strategic assets while giving ‘tax relief’ to various international corporations, investors and airlines.
Covid-19 Numbers Game: Low Severity of virus but a deadly policy response
Amidst a Covid-19 numbers game (even masks have numbers!), and an infodemic seemingly calculated to obscure the metrics that matter, ‘test, test and trace’ using flawed tests has been the mantra for the WHO led global policy of economically, socially and politically devastating lockdowns and isolation, implemented by government and military in many countries. However, these policies were not based on country specific, quantitative and qualitative Covid-19 data analysis and were counter-productive to the mental and physical health and well-being of the population.
The relatively low severity of Covid-19 flu in tropical Asian and African countries compared to Euro-America where the disease is severe is arguably due to several interrelated, region and country-specific contextual factors such as year round hot and humid tropical weather (above 20 degrees Celsius), that degrades the virus and its transmission; more or less universal BCG vaccination that confers innate and trained immunity against respiratory illnesses in tropical countries; national health infrastructure including BCG monitoring; and local diet and food habits.
In the temperate regions of the industrialized world, larger volumes of processed food are consumed and non-communicable diseases that constitute the co-morbidities profile for Covid-19 are more widespread than in tropical countries, especially those where rice is a staple food and populations are younger.
The WHO appears to have used questionable epidemiology models, metrics and as several scientists have showed flawed PCR tests that inflate the numbers and create fear psychosis while recommending lockdown in countries in the Global South rather than use country-specific data and the tried and tested Infection Fatality Rate (IFR). The WHO’s Covid-19 global pandemic narrative has been crafted on the Case Fatality Rate (CFR), rather than the IFR which is much less by orders of magnitude as the authors of the Great Barrington Declaration note.
Treat Covid 19 like a health issue and not a disaster wrote Jay Battacharya and Sanjiv Agarwal in July 2020. Many international scientists have exposed the fact that high numbers of false positive PCR tests account for high rates of supposedly asymptomatic cases and question the Covid-19 data presented by the WHO and the Johns Hopkins University (JHU) data base. In India highly flawed PCR tests gave up to 80 per cent false positives and a community survey was abandoned[2 ]Sri Lanka and many other impoverished countries in the South have been locked down and economically devastated based on false positive tests and a global media narrative that exaggerated the number of Covid-19 cases. This is in a nutshell is the Covid-19 scam.
In many countries in Southeast Asia, constantly shifting announcements of Covid-19 cases without context or comparison, and lockdowns arbitrarily imposed, kept up a fear psychosis, and confused workers who worried about their and their family’s safety if they returned to work. Constant uncertainty and unavailability of public transport has devastated economies, social and political activity, while distracting from analysis of the relevant data.
 Source: https://www.worldlifeexpectancy.com/ World Life Expectancy Country Specific data provides influenza and pneumonia mortality rate which may be compared with Covid-19 data at https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/#countries and also Johns Hopkins University CSSE COVID-19 Country-specific Data
 The COVID-19 RT-PCR Test: How to Mislead All Humanity. Using a “Test” To Lock Down Society by Dr. Pascal Sacre https://www.globalresearch.ca/covid-19-rt-pcr-how-to-mislead-all-humanity-using-a-test-to-lock-down-society/5728483
*To be continued….
*Dr. Darini Rajasingham Senanayake is a Social and Medical Anthropologist, based in Colombo. Sri Lanka at the International Center for Ethnic Studies.