The Corona Chronicles – More Questions Than Answers

It’s a common joke in Israel that people unwilling to await their turn to receive any service, simply go to the head of the queue and announce: “I just want to ask a question”.
Well – I just want to ask a question.
Several questions, actually.

A common point raised by COVID vaccine sceptics is the relatively short length of time between the outbreak of the pandemic and the development of the various vaccines now on the market – only about a year, when normally, it takes years, even decades, to develop effective vaccines. To which the vaccine supporters reply that coronaviruses in general have been around for a long time and that research into possible vaccines, and specifically, mRNA vaccines, didn’t start with the appearance of COVID-19.

We are also constantly being told that the vaccines now being offered by Pfizer, Moderna and others have been rigorously tested to ensure their efficacy and the absence of side-effects.
And what about the long-term effects? Obviously, there is no way of knowing at present, what the possible effects on the human body (including our own immune systems) will be years down the line. But surely, during the year or so between the appearance of COVID-19 and the launch of the vaccines, someone must, at least, have kept tabs on the length of the period of immunity from disease (or, at least, from serious illness) enjoyed by the test subjects!

Apparently not.

We are now being advised that “immunity” (such as it is) drops drastically after 4 or 5 months and the government has mounted an aggressive campaign to induce all Israeli citizens who had the second dose of Pfizer vaccine at least five months ago, to submit to a “booster” shot as soon as possible. When they first started vaccinating the general populace, we were told that the “immunity” would last “at least” six months (with the implication that it might last even longer). Did the Pfizer company (which made certain to ensure its own “immunity” – from lawsuits, at any rate) not know by then that the efficacy of the vaccine would drop considerably after as few as four or five months?

What are we to make of a report in the New York Times from as recently as two months ago, on a study which concludes that the vaccines made by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna set off a persistent immune reaction in the body that may protect against the coronavirus for years?

And if, on the other hand, the effectiveness of the vaccine has dropped so much as to make a third shot necessary after only five months, what guarantee is there that boosters won’t be required every five months?

And if the need for a booster is a consequence of the appearance of new variants, which are more resistant to the vaccine, who will guarantee that the next variant to come along won’t necessitate booster shots after even a shorter period than five months? Are we ready for monthly booster shots – especially when we still have no idea of the long-term effects of the vaccine on the human body’s own immune system.

Is there not a danger that the development of newer and more vaccine-resistant variants will result, eventually, in the appearance of a “super-virus” that is completely resistant to the vaccine?

And yes, there is also the argument (at least here in Israel, and possibly in other countries as well) that the important thing for the time being is to ensure that the numbers of seriously ill are kept down, so as to prevent the healthcare services from being overwhelmed.
But we heard this argument a year ago already. Would you not think, in that case, that the government should have been pouring more money into strengthening the healthcare services?

Once again, I am not drawing any conclusions and I am certainly not campaigning against taking the vaccine.

I am merely asking questions.

Okay, now that I have got The Weekly Rant out of the way, I would like to recommend a couple of books to while away the last few weeks of summer.
A few weeks ago, I had to use up the points on one of several gift cards in my possession, by the end of June. I bought four new books – and, by dint of severely curtailing my activity on Facebook (for which I think I deserve a pat on the back), I am now halfway through the third.
I am tempted to go off on a tangent about the amount of time we waste on Facebook. I, in particular, manage to get dragged into all manner of pointless arguments with people whom I don’t know and whom I am never going to convince. Do you know how many books I could read in that time?!

Anyway, the first of the four was The Greek Holiday by Maeve Haran – a fairly light-hearted romantic novel about four college friends who have more or less lost touch over the years and now, decades later (I’m not sure how many, but one of them has a daughter with two children, one of them in his late teens), they are trying to recapture their youth by revisiting the Greek island of Zanthos, which they had last seen as 18-year-olds. Of course, modernity has long since caught up with that particular island, turning it into a veritable tourist trap, from which they flee in horror. The sudden sickness of one of the four, Moira, a Cambridge don, forces them to stop off at the tiny, off-the-tourist-track island of Kyri, where Penny meets the man who tried to bed her all those years ago, now considerably more mature, still single, and currently serving as the island’s mayor. The emergency stop turns into a stay of several weeks, when the ladies meet more “old friends” from their student days who have fled the over-commercialised Zanthos for the quiet of Kyri. But Kyri is just a bit too quiet, the cruise ships by and large pass it by and there are no job opportunities there for its young people. Penny and her friends come up with an idea to remedy that – and while helping the islanders to turn their old boathouses into an AirBnB hub, they also get caught up in the search for a long-lost statue of Aphrodite and a cat-and-mouse game with antiquities smugglers. There is romance in the air too – for Penny, who must find the courage to leave her bullying husband, and for Dora, “the scariest Public Relations agent in London”, whilst for Penny’s best friend, Nell, it is a chance to win back her estranged daughter.

I picked this book as the first of my reads out of the four, because, since my trip to northern Greece the year before last, I have been dying to go back – and I can’t because of this damned COVID pandemic!
Ah, well – at least I can read about quaint Greek villages, thyme-covered hillsides and rocky coves where turquoise seas were once thronged with pirates.

Still thinking about those faraway places I am longing to visit once more, my next choice of book was the latest in Donna Leon’s wonderful Commissario Brunetti series of police procedurals – although I suspect Guido Brunetti is not your typical Italian police detective.
Holder of a degree in Law, erudite in history, with a wife who lectures in English literature, and aristocratic in-laws, he is also the father of two rebellious teenage children.
What I particularly like about the Brunetti novels – and what made Transient Desires a must-read during these troubled times, in which the COVID-driven hassles of international travel have made it simply not worth the trouble – is the way the city of Venice is an ever-present entity, almost as much a character as Brunetti himself.

In this, the 31st novel in the series, if I’m not mistaken, what appears, at first glance, to be a boating accident in the Laguna, leads Brunetti to a particularly brutal sex-trafficking gang. As with many of the previous novels, the question is not so much “whodunnit”, but whether or not Brunetti and his colleagues will succeed in bringing the perpetrators to justice, and how.
There is an exciting action scene in the last chapter, but the end itself is surprisingly abrupt and leaves one wondering, for a few minutes, if maybe a couple of pages are missing.
I googled and checked. They are not.

The third book, which I am currently reading, is a Gothic mystery, in which the Brontë sisters feature prominently. But I shall save that for another time and wish you a pleasant weekend.

Till my next rant then 😉 .

About Shimona from the Palace

Born in London, the UK, I came on Aliyah in my teens and now live in Jerusalem, where I practice law. I am a firm believer in the words of Albert Schweitzer: "There are two means of refuge from the sorrows of this world - Music and Cats." To that, you can add Literature. To curl up on the sofa with a good book, a cat at one's feet and another one on one's lap, with a classical symphony or concerto in the background - what more can a person ask for?
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3 Responses to The Corona Chronicles – More Questions Than Answers

  1. Carole Schulman says:

    Can’t wait to read any comments. I for one am with you.

  2. rant away; all points are valid !!! here in the states; those who HAVE been vaccinated are getting sick…..and the conspiracy theories are endless !!! big hugs to the cat crew 🙂 ♥♥ { I think the cover on the last book is awesome…

    be happy, be healthy, be safe~~ ☺☺♥♥

  3. CATachresis says:

    I think that what ever we do (or the governments do!) is going to be wrong. We are in a situation that has not happened before, except maybe the Spanish flu after the First World War! There are such strong feelings on both sides re vaxxing or anti vaxxing. I think the world is up the creek without a paddle to be sure. But I do wish individuals would take more responsibility for their own behaviour more. Common sense tells you to take care when you are in a confined space with strangers e.g. planes. So why are so many flying off on holiday? Also kids with their determination to go drinking and clubbing with no thought that they might be at risk. BTW I notice that incidences of other contagious diseases has significantly gone down since lockdown started as well. With regard to the healthcare system being overloaded, here in the UK the NHS has always been on the edge of coping. No amount of throwing money at it will make it more efficient. It needs completely overhauling and rebuilding from scratch, but of course, that won’t/can’t happen!

    I didn’t start out to rant but I think I have! 😉

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