The title is clickbait. But please still read anyway.
More than two years ago, some fella in China ate a bat. Lo and behold, we have Covid-19.
Regardless of its origins, Covid-19 happened—is happening. The ultra-contagious virus is attacking lungs all over the world.
In March 2020, WHO declared Covid-19 a pandemic.
Countries everywhere locked down their borders in an attempt to control the spread.
Hospitals started to overflow.
Morgues actually overflowed.
The contagious nature of the virus mean that people are resigned to their homes; the alternative is to risk getting infected.
This killed businesses. The airline industry stalled. Many of my colleagues lost their jobs. Every single one of us have suffered at least a pay cut.
My flying school batch mate killed himself.
The airline industry is not the only industry on life support. Most of the economic sectors are.
Everywhere, people are digging into their savings to make ends meet.
The wage workers and the B40, as usual, are feeling the brunt.
More than a year after the initial surge, Malaysia is still contending with this deadly virus. Today (29 May 2021), Malaysia logged 9,020 new cases, a record high.
Our healthcare system is beyond breaking point
Frontliners are exhausted.
The ICUs are at their brim.
Because of the limited resources, doctors are forced to play God. They choose who lives and who dies.
On Twitter, a guy named Naz shared about his mother who suffered from kidney stones.
The overwhelmed healthcare system meant insufficient manpower. His mum couldn’t get a doctor’s appointment despite a month of pain.
When the pain was too much to bear, Naz brought her to the emergency room where the doctor discovered that the kidney stone had pierced her gallbladder. Pus and germs seeped out and into her lungs.
The infection affected her breathing. The doctor deemed her condition critical.
But the ICUs were full with covid patients. Due to Naz’s mum’s age and condition, the doctor refused her a ventilator.
“Sebab katanya mak aku mmg dah xda harapan (The doctor said that my mum has no more hope),” wrote Naz in a heart-wrenching tweet.
Naz’s mother passed away in a hospital bed with nothing more than an oxygen pump to aid her breathing because the doctor had to choose who to save.
His tweets made me cry.
As I write, Malaysia is currently in the midst of MCO 3.0. Last night, the Prime Minister’s Office released a statement. Malaysia is going into full lockdown again, the second since March 2020. The cases are too high.
Our economy is going to suffer further. This means many are going to starve.
The choices are between more dying Covid patients or more starving people.
But there is light at the end of the tunnel!
As the darkness choked us, seeping deeper and deeper into our bones, the world superpowers raced to find a vaccine.
The scientists worked overtime.
And after vigorous brainstorming and testing, they were successful.
They finally introduced vaccines!
The vaccines are not 100% effective against the virus. However, they are proven to reduce the severity of Covid-19 symptoms. Those who receive the vaccine are far less likely to be hospitalised or to die from Covid-19.
It is our chance to regain some semblance of normalcy.
Our goal is to achieve herd immunity
Herd immunity is when most of the population is immune to a disease.
Malaysia aims to vaccinate 80% of our people to achieve herd immunity.
According to Worldometer, Malaysia has a population of 32.75 million. 80% of that is 26.2 million.
But as of today (29 May 2021), only 11.6 million have registered. That’s less than half of the numbers we need to achieve herd immunity!
Achieving herd immunity requires team work.
There are some among us who have been advised against taking the vaccine. These are the ones with health difficulties. Their bodies might not be able to handle the vaccine.
That is why the healthy among us must do our part to achieve that 80%.
Until we achieve herd immunity, we cannot return to pre-covid normal. The infection rate will persist. The economy will continue on this downward slope.
People will continue to die. People will continue to starve.
People will like Naz’s mum will continue to fall through the cracks.
We won’t be able to reach the light at the end of the tunnel.
But why wouldn’t some people get vaccinated?
Some of us are wary of the vaccines.
I completely relate. As with most pilots, I am a control freak.
I like to know where I came from, where I’m going, what I’m doing…
Naturally, I wanna know what dafuq is going into my body.
And this vaccine the authorities are trying to pump into the masses—it’s an unknown. Especially those using the mRNA technology.
Being cautious is a survivor skill we inherited from our hunter-gatherer ancestors. If they ate every single berry that came their way, there wouldn’t be a human race now.
We should try not to discount fears. Although there are some, um, entertaining ones.
Some of the evangelical Christian community in Malaysia is convinced that the components found in “The Jab” (Covid vaccine) will alter your God-given imprint, aka DNA. Haha.
Here’s an article debunking that: Coronavirus: False and misleading claims about vaccines debunked
There are also those that think the vaccines have the “Mark of the Beast” (666). With the Mark of the Beast, a soul will not be allowed through the gates of Heaven when they die. Or so the belief goes. Hehe.
Here’s another article addressing that: The Covid Vaccine has 666 Written All Over It… and Why That Doesn’t Matter According to Revelation
But then there are the more rational fears.
For example, the AstraZeneca vaccine has been found to cause blood clots in recipients. This is a valid concern. Several governments worldwide have refused to administer AstraZeneca to their citizens.
This might sound serious, until we consider the odds.
For every 1 million AstraZeneca vaccine jabs, only 4 recipients experience blood clotting.
That’s a 0.0004% chance of getting blood clots from AstraZaneca.
To put that into perspective, you have up to 0.12% chance of getting blood clots from birth control pills.
You also have a 0.18% chance of getting blood clots from smoking.
Worst still, you have a 16.5% chance of getting blood clots from Covid-19.
Besides, the fatality rate following blood clots have reduced, as reported by Reuters. This indicates that awareness among the vaccinated has gone up, leading to early diagnosis and treatment.
But that’s not what you’re thinking about, right?
What if I’m one of the unlucky ones?
My bio sucks. So I’m not going to talk science.
Honestly, I don’t understand vaccines. Not beyond the superficial, that is. Nothing more than what the smart people in white coats idiot-fied for me.
So getting vaccinated is actually an act of blind faith*.
Here’s my thought process. It might or might not convince you, but please stay with me.
I consider the high Covid-19 infectious rate in Malaysia now. I consider the low rate of fatality from Covid vaccinations.
I conclude that there is a high probability that getting vaccinated is advantageous to me.
But I don’t know if getting vaccinated is definitely advantageous to me.
However, the numbers tell me that each of us getting vaccinated is definitely advantageous to the collective (herd immunity).
So I’m compelled to do my part and get vaccinated.
It’s blind faith for the collective.
What we owe each other
In regard to getting vaccinated, I am a lawful neutral. I’ve taken my first dose of AstraZeneca and think everybody should register for the vaccine, but I’ve not actively nagged others into doing it.
A lawful good is registered to be vaccinated. They actively encourage everybody to get vaccinated.
A true neutral sits on the fence. “I’ll let others go first.”
A lawful evil registers to be vaccinated but does not turn up for their appointment.
A neutral evil decides not to take the vaccine but does not impose it on other people.
A chaotic evil sends unverified anti-vax material to WhatsApp groups in an attempt to influence others against taking the vaccine.
For the good of the collective, we should all aspire to be a lawful good.
Actually, taking one for the collective is not pure altruism. It is a selfish act.
We are now stuck in purgatory and cannot move on until we achieve herd immunity.
So if we just take the vaccine, we can all finally move on.
Lindungi diri, lindungi semua.
(Bonus point: After I took my AstraZeneca shot, I had no appetite for two days and lost some weight.)
*Truthfully, unpacking my sentiments on vaccines has made me more sympathetic towards the evangelicals I routinely wax polemics against. We each have our own measure of what constitutes empirical evidence. We pick and choose what to have blind faith on. For me it’s vaccines. For them, it’s the bible. Perhaps we’re two sides of the same coin.