I send you warm greetings, fellow “countrywo(men)”. I am positive that you are all doing very well.
Last year, I wrote a number of pieces on COVID-19, and I’m profoundly grateful to you for making time out of your tight schedules to peruse them. This year, for the first time thus far, I’m revisiting the subject, and I crave your indulgence if there are a lot of repetitions.
Before I proceed, I would like to seize this opportunity to wish you all a Happy Independence Day. Today – 6th March, 2021 – is one of the sacred days of our nation, and marks exactly sixty-four years when we gained independence from colonial rule, thanks to the relentless efforts of our patriotic foreparents. Their selflessness and patriotism converted the Gold Coast that once thrived on a wobbly foundation into the stable Ghana we enjoy today. For this and many more, we will forever uphold them in high esteem as people of no less personages than our heroes or heroines. As a nation, we have come a long way, but we still have longer miles to cover. May God bless our homeland Ghana, and make her great and strong.
Fellow compatriots, although it feels like just yesterday, 12th March, 2021 will mark exactly one year since we recorded the first two cases of COVID-19 on our shores. From then till now, the disease has battered and bruised thousands of individuals to their lowest ebbs. Even more aggravating is the fact that COVID-19 has killed many people in a manner that it’s impossible to count, let alone arrange them chronologically. Some of the people who have been killed by the monstrous disease are our loved ones, who otherwise would have lived longer, prosperous lives.
The effects of COVID-19 on our livelihoods cannot be overemphasized, for it is loud and clear – perhaps even to a five-year old child – how the disease has come to cow us all into bowing to lifestyles we have never dreamt of, before. It has affected almost all aspects of our lives – greetings, funerals, marriages, worships, education, travelling and entertainment, among other things. If nothing at all, there was a time when all schools, worship centers and stadia were closed.
Wearing of face masks, washing of hands regularly, sanitizing our hands and observing social distancing became the new normal – a modus operandi, for that matter. Over and above these, some fractions of the country were forced into a partial lockdown, against their will and comfy. All these changes in our manner of living were borne out of the effects COVID-19 had – and is still having – on us. We could not help but comply, for those were the only conceivably feasible ways we could protect ourselves and loved ones from the wrath of the viral disease.
Dreaded by the nightmarish effects of the disease on us, we resorted to praying and waiting impatiently for when God will miraculously wipe out the disease from the surface of our country – and of the earth at large. Indeed, God has answered our prayers, but in an indirect fashion. The answer to our perennial prayer is the development of vaccines, biological preparations that provide active acquired immunity for a particular infectious disease (In this case, COVID-19). What vaccines do is to protect us against a particular disease even before we contract the disease. So, the developed COVID-19 vaccines are meant to protect us from getting the disease.
Scientists have worked tirelessly to develop different forms of COVID-19 vaccines, including the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine and AstraZeneca/Oxford COVID-19 vaccine, both of which have undergone strictly monitored trials to ascertain their efficacy and safety. Before a vaccine is approved for use by the WHO, it is first tested in animals to evaluate its safety and potential to prevent a disease. It is then tested in humans, what is known as clinical trial, in three phases (The details of the phases will probably come in a follow-up article).
As far as Ghana is concerned, we have in our midst the AstraZeneca/Oxford COVID-19 vaccine, and like has been mentioned early on, AstraZeneca/Oxford COVID-19 vaccine has undergone all the trial phases, which confirms that it’s safe for use. Vaccination is already underway in Ghana, and you are likely to be hoodwinked by some conspiracies into thinking that the vaccines are meant to wipe out the African race from the surface of the earth. Those conspiracies are false, simply on account that they are baseless without any proof, and deserve no other treatment than the utter contempt they deserve.
My fellow citizens, we have had enough of the tribulations of COVID-19, and we are all longing to revert back to our normal lives. A good way to achieve this goal is by allowing ourselves to be vaccinated when the vaccines come to our doors. Even if you feel the vaccine has a palpable risk, the risk of getting vaccinated is far lesser than the risk of not getting vaccinated. Given this, when the time is due, let’s get vaccinated. I vow to allow myself to be vaccinated, and so should you, my dear.
Once again, Happy Independence Day to you all. May God bless our homeland Ghana and make her great and strong.
AUTHOR: Mohammed Ezzideen Yakub (Medical Student, UHAS).