Debunking the covid-19 myths and conspiracy theories

WHO has characterized vaccine hesitancy as one of the top ten global health threats.
Debunking the covid-19 myths and conspiracy theories
A health worker administers COVID-19 vaccines to a local in Srinagar. [Image used for representational purpose only]File: Mubashir Khan/GK

Anxious days, sleepless nights and restless hearts! Who could ever forget the bestowals of the covid-19 pandemic! A year back around this time, the covid scare had reached its zenith. Although, the loss of lives and the severity of infections was not so inordinate as witnessed in the 2nd wave but the scare associated to it was overwhelming. What we all were looking for was some kind of a miracle to happen that could take away the pandemic from us and land it somewhere beyond the universe, never to return. At that time, many of us dreamt of a pre-covid world and the bliss of that world which the pandemic had brutally snatched away from us. I too had ‘A Vision in a Dream’ – the vision of a post-covid world which had the semblance of a pre-covid world -one marked by a degree of gratification for the nuances of life which imparted our ordinary world a utopian colour!

But back then, our hands were tied. We had no medicines, we had no vaccines, no cure for the mutating virus, no escape from its deadly scare. All we could do was to follow a covid- appropriate behaviour in accordance with the fact that prevention is better than cure. But we failed there too! As the covid began to assume an air of normalcy and started becoming a part of life, some of us began to roam unmasked, some chin-masked and some signed a contract with one single mask for the rest of the pandemic. We never took social distancing seriously because we were more concerned about not hurting our dear ones who spread their arms to embrace us. And finally, the one who sanitized hands frequently was dismissed as one having an obsessive compulsive disorder. The irony is that some people still regard covid-19 as a hoax and assert their faith in God against it! Nevertheless, amid all odds, scientists and health experts across the world struggled day in and day out to study the elusive virus in order to come up with a cure. But, the ultra-mutating virus, so unapproachable, never gave in. Yet, the crown of creation established its supremacy over other living organisms in successfully coming up with vaccines.

But this pandemic, we came across something more menacing than the virus itself. We witnessed an Infodemic or more precisely spreading of misinformation! Most disappointingly, a lot of misinformation was spread pertaining to vaccines and their development. While the world’s scientists and experts were so painstakingly studying the virus and developing the vaccines, some people deemed the vaccines unsafe for being developed so quickly. Some people feared the vaccines would alter their DNA while some alleged that microchips and tracking devices had been coded into the vaccines. Some accused the vaccines of triggering allergic reactions while some said vaccines cause infertility in women. Senior specialists spared time for interviews to sensitize masses about the importance of taking vaccines in our collective fight of defeating covid-19, but all in vain. Debunking the covid-19 myths and conspiracy theories has become quite a difficult task. Vaccine hesitancy has assumed a next level.

While the percentage of population fully vaccinated is 48.9% in United Kingdom and 46.8% in United States, it is only 4.1% in India as of now. Although, Jammu and Kashmir is currently leading in vaccinating people aged above 45 years with 62% of its eligible population inoculated with both doses compared to the national average of 32%, yet, the youth are hesitant to take their fair share of the jab, reason being the above mentioned myths that have got their hooks in our youth so deep. Calling this lot of rattlebrains as padhe likhe unpadh (educated illiterates) would in no way be an overstatement because these people are not just risking their own lives but threatening the stability of the whole world that the rest of its denizens are striving to achieve. These bunch of oafs have their own theories disregarding vaccines and they don’t bother even for a while to come out of the haze of insecurities into the light of reality. It comes as no surprise that WHO (World Health Organization) has characterized vaccine hesitancy as one of the top ten global health threats.

There is a Hadith of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) narrated by Al-Tirmidhi. The Hadith outlines the story of a Bedouin man who was leaving his camel without tying it. When Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) asked him about leaving his camel untied, the Bedouin answered, “I put my trust in Lord.” The Prophet (PBUH) then replied, “Tie your camel first, and then put your trust in Lord.” This Hadith has become an oft-quoted saying in our day to day lives as “Trust in God and Tie your Camel”. Even religion teaches us to help ourselves first before we seek the help of God Almighty. The pandemic has taken a toll not only on our lives but on our mental health as well and it is high time that we all unite against it to trounce it forever. So why not shun the myths because the taste of the pudding lies in its eating! Therefore, the need of the hour is to address the vaccine hesitancy, be it in remote rural areas or bustling urban cities because the key to the annihilation of the covid-19 pandemic lies in our united fight against it.

P.S: I got my first jab of the covid-19 vaccine and I am happily up for the second. This has not altered my faith in Lord, but I would rather tie my camel. Period!

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author. The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.

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