AstraZene-Can or Cannot? 0 480

As of this week, Malaysians within the Klang Valley have voluntarily signed up for the AstraZeneca vaccine. This specific vaccine has been polarising within the community for it’s side-effects, some believing that the risk of side-effects are worth the safety of the vaccine and some believing that the risks don’t outweigh the benefits. We sat down with two individuals, one who says can and one who says cannot to hear both perspectives. Before we get into that, let’s lay out some facts:

  • AstraZeneca is a viral vector vaccine
  • The vaccine was created by a partnership between The University of Oxford and British-Swedish company AstraZeneca
  • The AstraZeneca vaccine is 63.09% effective against Covid-19
  • In viral vector vaccines, genetic materials from the Covid-19 virus are inserted into another kind of weakened live virus. It is then injected into your cells and your immune system responds by creating antibodies and defensive white blood cells
  • About four people in a million develop blood clots from the vaccines
  • Because of the blood clotting, Denmark has stopped its AstraZeneca rollout completely and Germany, Spain, Italy and Ireland have suspended use of the vaccine in people under 60.

 

 

So can or cannot?

What made you decide to take / not take this vaccine?

Can: I chose this vaccine because it’s the one that I could get the soonest. Considering my age and health condition, I had a feeling that I wouldn’t be able to get a vaccine before someone like my parents or others with health risks. But I do suffer from anxiety (anxious whether getting Covid-19 or transmitting it to someone else), and getting vaccinated ASAP just means that I can reduce the risk for myself and others.

Cannot: Generally I am afraid of all new vaccines. Specifically with this one there hasn’t been enough time and data to really understand the side-effects. AstraZeneca has also been pulled from a few countries which makes me even more apprehensive.

Did you do a lot of research before making your decision?

Can: Yes I did! A lot. Twitter has been a good source of information especially a few days before they rolled out the AstraZeneca vaccination programme. A lot of doctors also came out to bust some of the myths surrounding this vax especially regarding the risk of blood clots. And vox explainer videos were great too!

Cannot: Not a lot but some research. I mainly read news articles but didn’t dive into the research.

In what ways do you feel the benefits outweigh the side-effects / side-effects outweigh the benefits?

Can: Mainly that fact that it’s the vaccine we can get the soonest and that means we’re one step closer to ending the pandemic. Gaining immunity is not just for ourselves, but for everyone around us, especially those who aren’t able to receive the vaccines due to health complications. #KitaJagaKita 

Cannot: From what I have read there are 2 types of vaccines, the MRNA and the more traditional kind that delivers a small dose of the virus into your body. What I have been told and read is that the more traditional vaccines are better. Also, it looks like where there are alternative vaccines without the blood-clotting side-effect then I would prefer to take that.

Do you feel fearful of the side-effects:

Can: I was fearful at first, but after reading up about the side effects and being aware of what i was experiencing post-vax, I realised that the side effects just means that the vaccine is working. 

Do you feel more swayed after seeing so many people take the vaccine?

Cannot: A little bit, I wonder if I’m making a mistake by not taking it especially since so many people have rushed to get it and don’t seem to be sharing the same fears. 

What has your experience of taking the vaccine been so far?

Can: My experience has been just as I expected – 6 hours after the vaccination, the side effects started kicking in. I was lucky enough to be given Vaccine Leave from work for two days to rest and recover. The first 48 hours were the most difficult, I felt sore all over and had chills (these are the common side effects). In between, I was making sure that I drank lots of water and read up more on the side effects to see what I should look out for. I was popping panadols like candy too! It’s been 72 hours since I was vaccinated and I feel like myself again ready to get back to my normal routine.

If given the choice, what vaccine would be your first choice?

Can: Like I said in point 3, the best vaccine (whatever the ‘brand’ is) is the one that we can get the soonest!

Cannot: Sinovac or any of the other whole virus vaccines.

As we can see, different individuals have different levels of understanding and beliefs on the safety of the AstraZeneca vaccine. There’s really no telling without consulting your doctor on which vaccine is best for you, but do keep your eye out for misinformation being spread and get your facts from a reliable source before making any decisions. And don’t forget, we’re all in this together, the sooner we’re all vaccinated the sooner we can put this pandemic behind us.

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So It’s Sabri, Now What? 0 344

Our bed’s been made, I guess we gotta find a way to lay in it 

Looks like our democracy has been disregarded for the time being and no amount of unrest from the citizens is going to make a difference. For most of us, this is our only home so it’s time to make the best of a bad situation and be clear about what we want from the people in power:

Parliament back in full session

If SOPs are in place and MPs are vaccinated, there is no reason for parliament not to reconvene. The voices of the people need to be heard and this is the only way we’ll be able to see that. 

Proper financial aid to the B40 community

Not just one-off handouts, but monthly financial aid to help those who have been struggling to put food on the table for the past year and a half. 

Restructuring of the Pandemic Recovery Plan 

Insanity is defined by doing the same thing and expecting different results – it’s time to rethink, relook and restructure our plan to get us out of this pandemic. It’s not about relying on the vaccines alone but holistically approaching the situation. 

#Undi18

Automatic registration of voters for those ages 18 and above for upcoming elections. 

Vaccinations for those in remote areas

Even though the vaccination rates have been tremendously high, it is clear that those living in the outskirts and the Orang Asli community have yet to receive their doses. 

Better support for our healthcare workers

Without our incredible healthcare workers, we would have seen many more fatalities in the country. They should be given full-time positions with the benefits that they deserve. 

Fair treatment of foreign workers

Foreign workers deserve to have safe working and living conditions that should be mandated under the law. 

Stopping the intimidation of activists 

Under a true democracy, activism, protests and the voices of the people must be heard. Activists should be allowed to speak on their views without fear of being investigated.

These are just some of the ways we want to see a positive change with the “new government”. Let’s hope that there will be some brighter days for us as Malaysians.

What are some changed you’d like to see?

What’s Happening In Afghanistan? 0 420

After 20 years of presence in Afghanistan, President Joe Biden withdrew all troops from the nation, closing Americas longest war.

The American army came to Afghanistan after the 9/11 terrorist attack to dismantle al-Qaeda and locate Osama bin Laden. This was led by George Bush to “win the war against terrorism”, even though none of the assailants in the attack were actually from Afghanistan. 

Over the past twenty years, the relationship between Afghanistan and the US continued to be turbulent with initial airstrikes, a call for the reconstruction of Afghanistan, an alliance between the leaders of both nations, a crackdown on the Taliban which was recommitted by President Barack Obama, the killing of Osama Bin Laden, the Taliban causing tensions between the nations, the US dropping its most powerful non-nuclear bomb, a resurgence in attacks by the Taliban as a response to the Trump administrations Afghanistan plan, peace-talks resulting in a deal on a path to peace and finally in 2021, Biden withdrawing all troops.

This is a very condensed summation of the intricacies of the relationship that the US has had with Afghanistan. However, it’s important to understand that the complex relationship plays a direct role in the reality that many Afghani nationals are facing at this time.

Before the extremists groups took control over the nation, in the 1960s, Afghanistan was a place filled with art, poetry, education and equality. Looking back on pictures, Afghanistan was comparable to a modern-day nation with forward-thinking ideologies with freedom and safety amongst the people.

This all changed when the Soviets came into Afghanistan in 1979. The entrance of the Russians set the trajectory of the rest of the history of the nation, with the American involvement, the civil war creating fractures in society allowing the Taliban to take over, to the reality that it is today. 

Just two days ago, on Sunday, August 16th, as the American troops left the country, the Taliban entered the capital of Kabul after a steady seize of the other cities and took over. The President of Afghanistan, Ashraf Ghani, fled the country leaving his people vulnerable to the inevitable takeover. He claimed that his abrupt exit was to “stop further bloodshed”, however, many perceive this as a cowardice move abandoning the people who had fought so hard for democracy in the nation.

All over the country, people are racing to airports to seek safety elsewhere. Under the rule of the Taliban, the country as they knew it for the past 20 years would be completely radicalised. Women and young girls top the list of greatest at risk to the regime, with most being told to stop attending schools or universities so that they are able to marry off – even girls as young as 12 years old. The reinstatement of the repressive and fundamentalist rule will set Afghanistan back almost 200 years and the twenty years of wars, trillions of dollars spent and the hundreds of thousands of lives lost have all be undone in the matter of just one day.

The new Taliban rulers have stated that they have changed their ways and hope to have peaceful international relations and maintain the rights of women. Onground, in Kabul, there hasn’t been violence in the city, rather at the airports where people are desperate to flee. However, despite the fact that things have been somewhat quiet in the city of Kabul, many of the older generations remember the harsh regime under which they lived and struggle to believe that this leadership has changed. Under the strict Shariah Law, education for women and girls were forbidden, they were not allowed to work, let alone leave the house without a male guardian. Most forms of entertainment were banned and women were forced to cover themselves from head to toe. 

The population of Afghanistan is a young population with 3 out of 4 individuals under the age of 25. This means that many don’t remember the trauma that was faced prior to US involvement and even attempting to adapt to the fundamentalist rule will be near impossible. It cannot be determined what the Taliban’s rule over the country will look like, however, if it is anything like it was historically, the world will be waiting to see what happens to the people who are not aligned with the Taliban’s governance.

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