By Emmanuel Koro
When I learnt that a U.S. medical doctor, Jeffrey I. Barke, M.D., had published a third edition of his book on COVID-19 — this time adding a discussion on the just approved COVID-19 vaccines whose powers to heal or harm are still unknown — I asked the publisher for a review copy.
In Africa, we hear a lot of rumours about certain types of COVID-19 vaccines experimentally made for the continent. We also hear that the vaccines are being sponsored by powerful people to destroy Africans, without explaining why. Then, of late, we learn that a new virulent, super contagious variant of the coronavirus is circulating in the U.K. and South Africa. Therefore, I considered Dr Barke’s book an important source of information that Africans could use to make informed decisions about dealing with the ever-changing COVID-19 pandemic challenges.
The book is a must-have for health-watching people from all walks of life. It is organized into brief and informative essays on various topics on the nature of the virus and how effective mask-wearing, school and business shutdowns, social distancing and vaccines are in the fight against the coronavirus.
The book cautions world governments not to make people take the COVID-19 vaccines against their will. It suggests instead that the public should be given enough information to be able to make prior informed consent decisions before accepting the COVID-19 vaccine.
Elsewhere, the book notes with concern the rushed production of COVID-19 vaccines and their unknown likely long-term impacts on public health. It points out that under U.S. law the vaccine manufacturing or distribution companies can’t be held liable for any of these long-term effects. That is a major worry.
Dr Barke references a controversial and secretive 40-year study about syphilis in which U.S. black communities were used, without their knowledge and consent, to test aspects of the disease. This inevitably raises the racial question around COVID-19. For example, why are people of color many times more likely to die from COVID-19 in the U.S. than white people?
The book is something that I think anyone should consider important to take into 2021 as we approach the anniversary of the COVID-19 worldwide lockdown. What did the lockdowns gain for us in view of the current 3rd wave of infections and deaths. What socioeconomic impacts will they have? When can we be rid of this deadly disease? Dr Barke’s book will help you formulate your own responses to these vital questions and to share your conclusions with others.
About the writer: Emmanuel Koro is a Johannesburg-based international award-winning independent environmental journalist who writes independently and has written extensively on environment and development issues in Africa.