It has long been a fact that the first casualty of any war is the truth. So, it should be no surprise that the global conflict now threatening the future of every nation on Planet Earth is awash with fear and uncertainty.
For sure, we are in a war between science and what we have come to know as COVID-19, a killer germ that broke loose from wherever it was confined a little more than a year ago and has since been on a worldwide, largely uncontrolled, rampage.
It took a few weeks for humanity to awaken to the danger of the new disease and for the world of science to move into high gear in the search for an antidote or cure. Then, in record-breaking time, several vaccines were being tested, refined, retested and finally approved for mass production and distribution.
Around the world, governments created centres to administer the vaccines. Daily bulletins began to appear recording the number of citizens vaccinated, the number successfully returning to work after vaccination, the number kept in routine care or “intensive care,” and the frightening number of deaths. Those deaths leaped from hundreds to thousands then worldwide to millions dying in hospital wards overflowing with the stricken.
And, the rumours and the whispers began. Were all the vaccines safe? Which one is the best? Can the giant pharmaceutical firms be trusted? Are the big pharmas just in it for the money because they don’t care about the cure?
Our local health authorities have done their best to address these rumours and conspiracy theories, but sometimes it has been a losing battle. People determined to think negatively will not be persuaded by science. I don’t envy Dr. Bonnie Henry her job of trying to persuade anti-vaxxers they are wrong.
It will be little comfort to remind her and her colleagues that in England in 1941, during the unpleasantness of World War Two, then-prime minister Winston Churchill permitted his government’s Ministry of Information to establish two in-house bureaus: The Anti Lies Bureau was charged with tracking and responding to German propaganda; and, the Anti-Rumors Bureau was assigned to track down uninformed local gossip.
I hesitate to mention one 1941 rumour making the rounds in British pubs lest 2021 anti-vaxxers dust it off and add it to their reasons for abstaining: The false rumble making the rounds was that German aircraft were dropping poison cobwebs on the British population.
Churchill’s sleuths confirmed the rumour once had life but was “rapidly dying.”
The last few days unfolded as planned and I got my second vaccine shot on Friday, May 7. Didn’t spot any cobwebs. But I’ll spend the next few days wondering if the light I now see at the end of the tunnel is one of promise – or a freight train heading my way.