08 Aug Is Vaccine The Way Forward?
Now, ever since the COVID-19 pandemic went out of control, probably the only hope we’re told about is the vaccine. Unless a vaccine for the coronavirus is developed, there’ll be no full-fledged travelling, no taking down of mask, and all social distancing rules hold. So countries have pump in big money for vaccines to be developed, pharmaceutical companies are going full speed in their research, with some claiming vaccine will be out by end of mid of next year, or even end of this year And medication-assisted treatment like using of Remdesivir or anti-malarial drug Hydroxychloroquine are generally played down as the ultimate solutions. I mean for obvious reasons because so much have been pumped into the development of vaccines.
Now, we are not health experts, but generally we have read enough to know what’s going on. There have been a lot of hypothesis, a lot of claims that what medication will work, and what doesn’t work. Now with so much unknowns, it’s obvious that no one possesses a monopoly of knowledge as with the virus is concerned.
So in today’s devotion, I like all of us to think through, “Can vaccine be our ultimate hope, where the coronavirus is concerned”? With all these talks among nations, promising one another that vaccines will be made available globally, and with many claims that vaccines can be produced quickly, I think we should flag out some concerns.
Now, before I mention those concerns, I like to say I am reminded by the word of God in <Philippians 1:9-10>. Herein the Apostle Paul said: “And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ”.
Now notice 3 things here: Love, knowledge and depth of insight. And put together, they produce discernment. Especially when there is so much unknown about the virus and its way of treatment as of this point of time, we need discernment! We may not know everything because information could be withheld from us, but we need to discern what is best, so that we can be clear conscience before the Lord. So is the vaccine the best bet? I’ve 3 concerns here.
Reliability of the Vaccine
Is the vaccine that is to be researched and produced within such a short time frame an overpromised? Now, I’m not a scientist, but I’ve read and also spoken to people who work in pharmaceutical company that it usually takes about 10 years for a safe and proper vaccines to be developed. There needs to be first intensive animal testing to be done before human testing is allowed, and testing needs to be done on different groups of people. So the question is is it safe to reduce the time of production of vaccines by 5 to 10 times? And there are talks about bypassing some animal testing process. Now, as I’ve said, I’m not a scientist, but I am reminded of what <Pro 19:2> says: Desire without knowledge is not good — how much more will hasty feet miss the way! Now, I’m going to leave you to ponder through with that.
Availability of the Vaccine
Do you believe that when a vaccine is being developed, it will be distributed cheap and universally to everyone? Already, we’ve pharmaceutical companies talking about recovering cost for their intensive research. And just less than one week ago, our national paper reported: “When it comes to Covid_19 vaccines, rich nations are first in line”. We’ve already seen the United States and Britain move to secure supplies from big pharmaceutical company Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline, and Japan has reached a pact with Pfizer. I mean this is the reality. When a crisis happens, the sinful world will always operate by the “Everyone for themselves” principle. So the strongest will survive, while the weakest are left to die. So do we really want to put our hopes on vaccines being delivered to us by end of next year? Now, I’m not saying this to crush our hope, but I’m saying this for us to be discerning.
Will a fail vaccine result in more fear eventually?
Did anyone ask: What if the vaccines go wrong? What if the virus mutates and the vaccines that is painstakingly produced doesn’t work anymore? Or what if someone tried the vaccine and it becomes fatal for whatever reason we don’t know? In times of fragility now, it only takes one fatal case in a thousand to instill immerse fear in everyone. Then you are going to see a more frightened world, and we’re back to square one. Everyone’s hope will be quashed. World leaders will be blamed. And there will be more distrust towards those in authority. I mean it’s not a good thing. I’m saying this hypothetically, yes, but these are possibility.
I think as of this point, the world needs leadership that comes from good discernment.
I can’t say I’m totally right, but I will like to humbly give 3 suggestions here.
1) Instead of a full proof vaccine, work towards medication-assisted treatment.
Develop drugs that will work on severe cases, so that the survival rate for those infected with Covid_19 will go up. And if these drugs treatment can bring the survival rate up to a point where it is closed to the survival rate of a common influenza, then we can see Covid_19 just like an influenza. And along the way, it might be easier for these drugs to be improved instead of vaccines to be redeveloped to deal with virus mutation.
2) There must be a sense of personal responsibility being instilled in people, such that they know how to protect themselves.
E.g. Wearing mask in crowded places, washing and sanitizing hands consciously must be built into every individual. Now, even if we have a fair bit of infected cases in the community, if there are individual consciousness and responsibility to protect ourselves, cases will be kept down. Sometimes, we must let consequences run its course so that individuals will take warnings seriously. In a war, we cannot protect everyone. But the conscious and careful ones will survive. And as discerning believers, we must possess that kind of conscious senses now. Honestly, law enforcement cannot work indefinitely. It will only do more harm to people both mentally and emotionally in the long run.
3) There must be leadership between small nations, where they slowly open up their borders to each other. Now, with assisted drug treatment in place and personal responsibility instilled, success stories can be told about countries opening up to each other.
Now, there is a culture of fear now when we see the 2nd or 3rd wave of infections hitting other countries. But think about this, the more we give credit to this news, the more the whole population of people will be crippled within. And then when they are fearful, they don’t work and eventually you will see business fail and economy destroyed. Many people will be jobless and societal problems will increase. Now, this will result in a vicious cycle. But if nations start opening up and cases can be kept low, those success stories will help other nations take heart and open up too.
And of course, I’ve to end with the note that it is the spiritual responsible of the church to pray. Instead of putting our hopes on a “foolproof” vaccine, I see that God wants us to know that HE is in control. And HE is leading the world towards the way of humility, where the world realize how finite it is, and the church learn to trust in God’s help and counsel.