Michaela Da Silva / Edge columnist
Political leaders and anti-vax activists around the world spark heavy, insubordinate debates over the liability and side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine. The vast majority of the time, they lack the background scientific information and abundant research to back their claims. Many far-right political oppositions have expressed since the beginning of the virus that it wasn’t that much of a big deal, and weren’t taking the necessary global-scale measures.
“In the Pfizer contract it’s very clear: ‘we’re not responsible for any side effects.’ If you turn into a crocodile, it’s your problem. If you become superhuman, if a woman starts to grow a beard or if a man starts to speak with an effeminate voice, [Pfizer] will not have anything to do with it.” Says Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, who is leading the 3rd most negatively impacted country after the United States and India (as of December 18).
Brazil has been criticised for their late and chaotic start on the immunization and medical efforts to combat COVID-19, which is no surprise based on the biased and erratic political leaders. Bolsonaro’s bold anti-vax speech was published in an interview by CTV this morning, primarily highlighting how the president had caught the virus earlier this year, recovered quickly, and began questioning the ‘trust levels’ of large scale medical facilities such as Moderna and Pfizer. However, in contrast to many everyday anti-vaxxers, the president is opposed to the vaccine because of the companies it came from and not from what is actually in it: revolting against their confidence and medical research.
“Some people say I’m giving a bad example. But to the imbeciles, to the idiots that say this, I tell them I’ve already caught the virus, I have the antibodies, so why get vaccinated?”
There is quite emphatic bias in the words of Bolsnaro in the CTV interview. It is to be noted that Bolsonaro has virtually zero medical background and has only been president of Brazil for less than a year. Additionally, let’s not forget how Bolsonaro already had the virus in July: so his body already has the necessary antibodies if he was to get sick again. This is not the case for the majority of the country he is running. Most of Brazil simply does not have these antibodies and are relying on the medical expertise of the labs and doctors who will provide a safe vaccine without the cloudiness of strong, far-right political bias.
This highlights Bolsonaro’s wants and needs to explicitly express his mindset of running a country purely for political power and profit. He is biased in his wants and needs for himself versus his country. This is a prevalent quality in most political leaders and almost anyone on earth with an opinion on the world around them. However, the coronavirus has quite literally stopped the world in its tracks, and everyday citizens are quite impressionable on what to think and do (especially regarding the vaccine). This is why it is important that truthful, genuine, authentic and long-term information is being spread so everyone can make the best decisions for themselves based on their own lives.
Such bias in political leaders is not a rare occurrence; in fact, even the best politicians exhibit bias no matter how subtle. This is done to make a specific candidate more respected or attractive to a certain demographic or majority. In most cases, political bias in the media is so prevalent and recurring that it merely makes a dent in real politics and democracy. In the case of America, Marjorie Hershey, political scientist, states that
“Republicans and Democrats spot bias only in articles that clearly favor the other party. If an article tilts in favor of their own party, they tend to see it as unbiased.”
Regardless of whether you understand one’s opinion on the coronavirus vaccine, it is important to respect their opinions of their personal self and their body. Overtime, people will see how much immediate emergency funding (billions of dollars from various countries) and new-world medical research went into the production of this vaccine. Creating such environments where we feel safe with ourselves and those around us will create a world where we can get back on track and resume how we lived before the pandemic.
And remember: it isn’t always in your best interest to listen to the political views of a medical treatment from a President who said the side effects. would turn you into a crocodile.