Southeast Asia’s Elite Show That There is Indeed An Opportunity Gap In Relation To The Vaccine

As the Covid-19 pandemic continues to plague communities all over the world, particularly in third world countries in Southeast Asia, the blatant inequality between the wealthy and the average citizen is looking more and more apparent as the top one-percenters are nabbing booster shots even as most people have not received their first jab.

The entitled “queue jumping” is a dangerous game to play when it comes to inoculation efforts for countries that are now being mired with the highly infectious Delta variant.

You’re Rich? You Get To Get The Booster Shots First

This worrying and growing trend in countries like Indonesia, Thailand, and the Philippines is seen as widening the gap between the average citizen and the rich and powerful, especially as these are the countries that are currently grappling with vaccine shortages.

For instance, in Indonesia, the health ministry has repeatedly stated that booster shots were only intended for health workers.

However, members of the political elite — none of whom were frontline health workers — were caught on camera discussing the boosters that they had received. The conversation was inadvertently broadcasted on the Presidential Secretariat’s official channel and the video has been deleted since.

In Thailand, authorities are investigating a director and a doctor at two hospitals who allegedly gave Pfizer jabs meant for pregnant women and healthcare workers to their family members and aides.

While in the Philippines, Ronaldo Zamora, a representative for San Juan City, has often spoken openly about getting not one, not two, not three, but four Covid-19 shots. His son, a mayor in the same city, later clarified that it was done under the doctor’s orders as Zamora was immunocompromised.

And the above are just some examples of well-publicized, apparent unequal treatment when it comes to the Covid-19 vaccine rollouts. There are, of course, more beneath the surface that aren’t being brought to light at this point in time. The chase for added protection against Covid-19 comes at a time when there is a growing concern for the myriad of variants that are appearing more and more resilient to the initial jabs. Initial studies have shown that booster shots offer increased protection against the virus as the Delta variant continues to drive up cases worldwide. This has meant that more developed nations are now considering adding a booster shot to their vaccination regimen, thereby indirectly causing a shortage of vaccine supplies for other, less developed nations — particularly for countries in Southeast Asia.

For the countries hamstrung by vaccine shortages, the well-connected getting extra shots mean fewer jabs will be available for health professionals or the vulnerable. In countries like Malaysia, the Philippines, and Thailand, the daily infection rates are often near an all-time high, whereas Indonesia’s death toll from Covid-19 is among the highest in the world.

And the consequences of displacing others in the vaccine queue is more than just a perceived moral injustice, it also puts the entire population at greater risk in the long run. Let’s look at it this way. You, as an affluent member of the elite, may be making yourself safer by taking a booster shot intended for another member of the community that may be less privileged. But if you allow the virus to continue to transmit across your community, you will inevitably see more and more variants and mutations occurring. Then, you’ll be back at square one — requiring even more booster shots to combat the changed virus. No matter how many vaccines you’ve taken, it will never be enough.

Remember, jumping the queue harms not just one or two people, it puts entire communities at risk.

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