On Tuesday, scientists at Oxford University announced they could have a COVID-19 vaccine by September. But one of the school’s own professors frets what that might mean.
In a HuffPost editorial, Dr. Emily Cousens notes that her 72-year-old father fears he won’t be eligible for a normal life ’til immunization’s possible.
However, her “initial relief at hearing Oxford and Imperial are racing away to develop the vaccine” was “followed by worry.”
Supposing Oxford succeeds, Emily wonders “what happens next.”
She points out, “Researchers have…warned that this will lead to rich countries hoarding supplies.” The vaccine will be “prioritized” for the protection of Britons, and “if there is enough vaccine to go round, the UK will be the world’s saviour.”
That victory will cause a devastating loss of memory, as described:
“We’ll forget the lessons that the pandemic has taught us so far: that the UK and the US are in fact not exceptions at the global stage. That we are not only vulnerable but can also afford to learn lessons from countries, regardless of whether we have a special relationship with them – such as South Korea.”
Go globalism — if you weren’t clear on the fact, the Chinese government’s really helping out:
“The developments made by researchers at Oxford have been enabled by international co-operation among the research community. Whilst China has faced lots of questions about it’s sharing of information politically, according to Laura Spinney: “The unprecedented speed of virus development so far is thanks in large part to early Chinese efforts.”
“Dr Claas Kirchhelle, fellow of the Research and Policy Unit at the Oxford Martin School, confirms that ‘there has been a radical sharing of information and a very rapid sequencing of the pathogen’s genetic code.’ It is clear, then, that international co-operation saves lives.”
So a big Shout Out to China for the good deeds. Props for the Earthwide assist.
Emily wishes everyone would recognize the Wuhan nation’s communal contribution, but instead, it seems, dummies are being patriotic:
“[D]o our Oxford-educated leaders think like this? Coronavirus is a global epidemic. Yet, rather than motivating the UK to take a proud role at the global stage, as leaders like [French President Emmanuel Macron] have urged, the UK is increasingly resorting to patriotism in response.”
The women’s studies professor is concerned all these problems will convince people to put their country first.
And why would they do that?
“This war-time rhetoric is useful in instilling a sense that this is a moment when individuals need to make sacrifices and put the country first. But this time, the enemy is not a nation. It is a microbe. So why do our collective solidarities end at the border? The race is on and researchers at Oxford are doing vital, life-saving work. But races have winners and losers. If my university is the first to develop the vaccine, I’m worried that it will be used as it has been in the past, to fulfill its political, patriotic function as proof of British excellence.”
But it gets worse. Once this pandemic is passed, Emily predicts we’ll return to some worst of ways:
“[We’ll forget] that being white, male and Oxford-educated may not be the only criteria for effective leadership (the countries whose responses have been most widely praised, Germany and New Zealand among others, are all led by women).”
If only we weren’t so racist, sexist, and forgetful...dadgummit.
Isn’t the universe a wondrous place? Show me ten people, and I’ll show you a dozen perspectives. In a time when a virus is literally killing people, these are the things a professor’s mulling over. Sure, the vaccine may save lives, but what if we forget that great leaders don’t always have to be Caucasian? And male? You know — like we always(?) do.
It’s a wild world. Watch yourself, amnesiacs.
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