The vaccine supremacy (aka snobbery)
A friend, whose vaccine appointment was one day before mine, called to find out if I had decided what I will wear on the day of the jab. “Er, haven’t really given it a thought. How about I go in what I wear when I go grocery shopping?”
“Don’t be silly,” she snapped. “Aren’t you going to be posting a selfie on social media from the [post-dose] observation area? I am thinking of wearing the new shift dress I bought on Namshi recently, it’ll pair well with the tote my mother gifted me for New Year.”
“What? Wait, did you shop for a new dress because you were getting jabbed?” I wanted to know. “Is there a vaccine capsule collection in the market?”
“Don’t know about a new collection, but I’m taking this seriously, I need to be looking my best — and please don’t judge me, I owe it to my Instagram followers.”
“Well, thank heavens, I’m not on Insta, and even if I were, the absolute last thing I’d do is post my photo with a hashtag on the lines of #IGotJabbedFashionably.”
“Fine, go in your grocery shopping outfit then,” she offered curtly.
When the virus put in its wildcard entry more than a year ago, it became an instant showstopper. What followed were philosophical observations on how we, the humans, will be rebooting and repurposing
priorities: be at one with nature, breathe in silences (literally inhale and exhale), feel connected to
family — and other animals — at a primal level, cotton on to what really matters and so on. Alas, it all sounds like a lot of balderdash. We remain as attention-seeking as we were pre-Covid. The only difference, to my mind, is that we have now designed innovative ways to bask in the limelight.
The big thing doing the rounds these days is vaccine snobbery: is mine better than yours?
It used to be “I live in Downtown, you live in Karama.” Now it is, “I got the American vaccine, you got the Chinese one, poor you.”
What vaccine are you getting/did you get, I am being constantly asked.
Pfizer, I say, not mentioning the reason: it was the only one available at earliest date.
“Oh good, that’s the best, I got that too.”
“Is it the best because you got it?”
“Of course not!”
Listen, they are all the same, they’ve all made it through various stages of trial and error, a vaccine is a generic antidote, smoke that into your peace pipe. And oh, by the way, did you know your iPhone is made in China too?
Those who have got Sinopharm are going to great lengths to justify why they got it: some banal tripe about how it suits their metabolism. It’s all good, I respond bored stiff, what matters is that you got the vaccine, what’s in a name?
But again, isn’t that like saying, I’m home, doesn’t matter if it’s in a “ghetto” or in cosmopolitan New Dubai? A matter of perception.
The most tedious form of vaccine supremacy has been jingoism. In India, where most of my family and friends live, you are either a chest-thumper or an anti-establishment spokesperson. The former feel taking the ‘India-made’ variant is a way to prove — and uplift — your national credentials; the latter feel anything ‘Made in India’ in the background of the ruling dispensation will inject you with saffron bodies, not antibodies (my father falls in the latter category, and I get a mild flush of Covid symptoms each time he refers to ‘Covishield’ as the “Oxford-patented one”).
Both theories sound as ridiculous as the ravings of a wide-eyed acquaintance who had informed me that Covid has been “manufactured in a lab”, as a weapon of bio terror. I wanted to tell him, “If people are so smart, by now they’d have invented a cure for cancer”, but I desisted in fear that he’ll say a cure for cancer has been held back because it’s actually a global pharma sector conspiracy.
Getting back to the point, most of those who have been jabbed — myself included — are experiencing vague side effects, irrespective of what “brand” they’ve been injected with, while some are claiming indifference. A few, including a dear friend’s better half, have contracted the virus after getting both doses.
We don’t know — yet — how the vaccine, or the lack of it, will impact us in the long run. But I think if ever a blame game were to ensue, the “name” will not be a casualty.