Covid's still here, so where are our boosters?

Malay Mail
Malay Mail

DECEMBER 6 — A friend of mine was so ill she couldn't drive herself to a clinic. The clinic, when she got there, was worried enough to consider sending her in an ambulance to Sungai Buluh.

Yes, she had Covid.

Cases have apparently gone up by 57.3 per cent in Malaysia though I would argue the number could likely be higher as people are no longer self-reporting, and many don't even bother self-testing.

It doesn't help that quite a few workplaces now no longer accept Rapid self-test kits and insist on very expensive PCR tests, and despite the Covid virus being infectious, demand a medical certificate.

I think it's high time we stop demanding medical certificates for any sickness lasting less than a week.

"What if people abuse the privilege?" some people ask. What I would like to ask is why you would expect someone very sick to somehow drag themselves to a clinic.

"They could call a Grab, then?" What if they had tuberculosis or Covid? Is it right to expose an e-hailing driver to possible serious illness?

Of course there will be people who just decide to take a day off without the onerous process of taking leave.

Can you blame them, though? I worked a job once where there were duvet days where you could just say you were not coming in and did not have to explain why.

You would think we would have learned from the pandemic but no,

people are coming into work with coughs, colds and fevers like suffering martyrs at the altar of corporate goals.

You're sick. Stay home. Don't get other people sick just so you can spend five hours at work on things that would usually take you an hour when you were, you know, healthy.

I still mask when I leave the house because my immune system has now gone pretty much bonkers after that one time I caught Covid.

There's apparently nerve damage inside one side of my nose because I can't feel anything -- when I use my usual steroid nasal spray I have to check if it's working because I can feel the spray on one side but I feel nothing but numbness on the other.

My psoriasis patches have spread all over my body though luckily not in places that are immediately visible and I don't experience too much discomfort.

I take antihistamines every night because without them my allergies are so easily triggered, in a way they weren't before I was infected.

It's not fun to spend money on medication that basically tells my immune system not to kill me, instead of some non-existent threat.

I still am grateful it wasn't worse. So I do my best to not expose myself to unnecessary risk but one thing that is missing is an updated Covid booster.

All that talk about updated Covid boosters but still, none have arrived. Yes there were too many Malaysians too afraid to take them but what about the people who need them?

My only option now is either to take expensive Sinovac vaccines that aren't nearly as effective or to spend hundreds of ringgit to travel to Singapore and get vaccinated at private clinics there.

The writer says Covid-19 cases have apparently gone up by 57.3 per cent in Malaysia. — Reuters pic
The writer says Covid-19 cases have apparently gone up by 57.3 per cent in Malaysia. — Reuters pic

The writer says Covid-19 cases have apparently gone up by 57.3 per cent in Malaysia. — Reuters pic

It seems that whenever someone asks a health authority where the boosters are we get non-answers or "well we had to throw all those jabs away because people weren't taking them."

I would have happily stabbed my arm with one of those Pfizer jabs that were about to expire but of course there was no real effort to get them used up.

My last booster was in July last year and I am pretty sure my immunity has waned since then.

I want, for once, a statement on the record without all the dancing around the hibiscus bushes if we are getting more Covid boosters and if not, why.

When people I knew were fretting about the lack of booster availability I pessimistically told them it seemed the government considered getting more would just be a waste of money, so why even bother?

Why bother caring about a virus that causes permanent damage to your body, it's just a matter of how much or how little? Why care that the very vulnerable will be the most exposed now that neither mask mandates nor ventilation standards are in place?

Like polio, Covid isn't just going to evolve into some disease we won't have to worry about. As it is, more people are eschewing giving the basic MMR vaccines to their children or are now believing that not just Covid jabs but any and all vaccines will give them cancer or some other ailment.

It is worrisome that from my perspective, too much money and effort is being put into political pandering while our doctors keep quitting the public sector and telling their colleagues to do the same.

Bad enough that we have government social media accounts now telling wives to let their husbands leave the house so they won't get fat.

Is the government going to let the anti-vaxxers win? Is MySejahtera ever going to be useful again? The answers to those questions are likely not very reassuring so until that changes I will have no other recourse besides masking, curtailing my social activities and glaring at people coughing without covering their mouths.

* This is the personal opinion of the columnist.