A virus battle tale of the wild kind


Getting vaccinated is far easier than having to chase a mongoose in the hopes of finding an elusive plant that may hold a cure for Covid-19. — Photo courtesy of Creative Commons

ALL of us are getting an overdose of vaccine news these days.

The Malaysian style of greeting each other has changed from asking, “Have you eaten?” to “Have you been vaccinated yet?”

Media personnel are now familiar faces at vaccination centres in Penang as we follow politicians who visit the venues and talk hopefully about reaching herd immunity.

It still seems like a tall order for Penang to see at least 70% or 1.38 million of the state population vaccinated by August.

There is progress, though. I have observed more people getting their first doses over the last couple of weeks.

I am waiting for mine.

A few of my friends had their jabs already. Some have gotten appointment dates.

“Why wait, since the vaccine is free and we may not be able to travel in the future if we are not vaccinated,” said a friend.

However, another friend who is a counsellor at a university in Kuala Lumpur, has her doubts.

“I will only get vaccinated if forced and even then, only if it is Pfizer.

“We are guinea pigs for the vaccines. I am not interested in herd immunity and am definitely not following the herd,” she said.

My father, who is 88, has a simple analogy of how one can withstand any virus attack.

He was on traditional medication for years and has many books on the subject.

One interesting story he told was about a particular herb that he claimed provided immunity against any virus or disease.

“Deep in the jungle of India, you need to look for the mongoose and cobra, which are sworn enemies, locked in a duel.

“In most cases, the mongoose kills the cobra with a bite on the head but there are times when the cobra bites the mongoose first.

“When this happens, the mongoose runs fast to a particular spot where a certain plant grows and will roll in it, nullifying the cobra venom.

“That is the plant we need to gain immunity.”

I was bewildered when he told me this, although my father certainly seems immune to a lot of diseases.

But the mongoose story begs many questions.

How do we know which jungle, exactly? How do you find those two animals in a fight to the death?

How do you chase a mongoose through a dense jungle until it finds that particular bush?

My father never answered any of those questions. But he did answer my next one.

“Why did you give up traditional medicine for your mild diabetes and opt for modern medicine instead?”

He said traditional medicine for diabetes only works if one is on a strict diet.

My father loves tea and coffee, laced with condensed milk.

“I want to eat well and enjoy my food. That is what keeps me strong today. All of you are poor eaters,” added my father.

So since he wants to eat to his heart’s content in his sunset years, he duly takes modern medicine to keep his blood sugar in check.

I wish to believe my aged father is strong because he grew up at a time when the food and environment were not as contaminated as they are today.

My mother, 83, is strong too and she had an aunt who gave birth to 24 children.

People were definitely stronger then.

Now, who among us is going to chase that mongoose to get a plant that is claimed to potentially give immunity against Covid-19?

To recap, do you think you need to be vaccinated?

Those who have a strong immune system may think it will not make much of a difference whether you are vaccinated or not.

However, those who have had their fair share of coughs, colds and flu have better sign up for the vaccine right away.

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