Farrukh Dhondy | Time to bust anti-vaccine myths… as all must get jab!

Some brave mullahs have turned their Islamic halls into vaccination centres and encouraged the community to get jabbed

“And the people said ‘speak to us of Djinns’

And the Prophet answered:

‘They haunt the nethers of all nations

Accomodating every shape and size;

They were originally French creations

But are mostly branded by Levis’.

‘What?’ the people said. ‘Levis?

What’s that to do with spirits of the earth?’

‘Spirits? -- Oh sorry! I thought you meant jeans.

It must be your Gujarati accents’.”

From Khali Gibberish, translated by Bachchoo

The aptly named UK Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) advises BoJo’s hapless government on the Covid-19 plague. SAGE and its advice are not to blame for the devastating statistic of over 100,000 Covid-19 deaths in the UK -- the highest per capita of any nation in the world.

Who or what is then responsible? Some point the finger at BoJo’s government being behind the curve of surging infections at every stage. His Tory Party is deeply divided, with some in favour of enforced regulation of human-to-human contact. Others, free marketeers and running dogs of capitalism, as Marx would have said, were against any lockdown and were in favour of keeping the economy open regardless of the number of deaths that caused.

Of course, they didn’t put it quite that way. They expressed all manner of scepticism about the effectiveness of a lockdown, of keeping people from mingling in crowds and public places. They quoted statistics to prove that a lockdown didn’t work. What any fool could see was that the lockdown didn’t work because the population ignored it, not because the regulations were unnecessary. Their argument is tantamount to asserting that laws against murder should be abolished because they don’t work as murderers abound.

One of the disturbing findings of SAGE is the fact that Asian, African and Afro-Caribbean communities have significant proportions of dedicated anti-vaccers. Among them there must be some lunatics who believe that Bill Gates has infiltrated the vaccine, instilling it with a chip that gets the vaccinated to boycott Apple products and only buy PC computers.

And then there are those who have religious reasons for their refusal.

While it may be difficult for common sense to comprehend why people en masse would refuse a vaccine that would save their lives in a dangerous pandemic, these religious arguments have to be dispensed with on religious terms.

Now, gentle reader, I have never pretended to be a theologian of any sort -- mainly for the reason that no one would take me seriously -- but I know that several evangelical churches with large followings among the British Afro-Caribbean people think that the Bible tells them not to get vaccinated. Apart from the injunction in the Book of Genesis from the Lord to Noah to not ingest anything that lives, apart from the vegetable world -- “But flesh with the life thereof, which is the blood thereof, shall ye not eat”; there is Leviticus who reports on what God said to Noah: “Therefore I said unto the children of Israel, no soul of you shall eat blood…” It goes on saying similar things and through the ages Judaism has interpreted it, not as an injunction to vegetarianism, but to the laws of kosher, and then through the respect for the laws dictated to Moses in Islam, to halal.

The vaccine, however, doesn’t contain anything like animal blood. We are DNAwallas and the anti-Covid vaccine consists of RNAwallas, which geneticists classify as a lower form of evolved existence. The biblical taboo on blood doesn’t apply as the mRNA stuff in the vaccine can’t be classified as such. QED, merey pyaarey doston!

And the Hindu and Muslim refusers of the vaccine? What do they believe? Doesn’t their refusal bring back the myth of the 1857 Uprising caused, historians have said, by Hindu and Muslim mercenary troops of the East India Company revolting against bullets greased with cow and pig fat? What I’ve never understood is why these troops objected to the bullets in the morning and then used them to kill their British officers in the afternoon.

Then some years ago the UK mint issued five-pound notes made of a sort of durable plastic rather than paper and the word spread amongst the Asian communities that the plastic contained cow’s fat. The five-pound notes were not meant to be eaten, but some Hindus refused to even handle them, and the British mint generously said there would be no natural animal fat in further issue.

Now the country is assured by SAGE that there is no animal fat in the vaccine. Even so, with my theologically aspirant hat on, I wonder whether the Covid-19 virus and its variants can be classified as part of the God-constructed animal kingdom. If some in the Indian-origin population of Britain, such as Jains, object to the intake of creatures into their bodies, they should consider that millions, even trillions of bacteria, classified by scientists as higher forms of being than Covid, are already in all human guts.

Some brave mullahs have turned their Islamic halls into vaccination centres and encouraged the community to get jabbed. Another initiative by Asian actors and comedians, sadly known as “celebrities”, have made a video appealing to all bhaion aur behenon to put fears of the prick behind them.

SAGE hasn’t, alas, begun recruiting knowledgeable or aspirant theologians to assist the cause yet -- but I’m keeping my phone close and checking my emails regularly.

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