Lockdowns Looming Again? Lessons from the Past

Jun 15 , 2024
By Hintsa Andebrhan

Three weeks ago, former President Donald Trump expressed concerns about the possibility of left-wing hardliners in Washington reimposing COVID-19 lockdowns, warning Americans of scheduled orders that could disrupt daily life once again. Given the potential ramifications of another COVID-19 outbreak or any pandemic on the global economic and political landscape, it would be unwito dismiss Trump's apprehensions easilyons. The concerns of a prominent political figure like Trump should not be overlooked.

The COVID-19 pandemic, which has claimed over seven million lives worldwide, proved to be a profitable venture for some individuals and pharmaceutical companies. This context should give weight to Trump’s claims. It is not merely a product of political rivalry but a reflection of the powerful financial interests at play. Undoubtedly, Trump’s allegations may serve his political ambitions, but they also touch on indisputable facts.

Bill Gates, renowned for his software empire and philanthropic efforts through the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, was at the forefront of addressing the COVID-19 crisis. His Foundation invested billions in epidemiological research, developing strategies to combat the virus. Gates' collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO) was instrumental in shaping global responses to the pandemic and guiding patient management and disease prevention efforts.

Investigations by POLITICO and Die Welt have uncovered the influential roles of organisations like Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI). These entities, heavily funded by the Gates Foundation, have greatly influenced global health response policies and decisions during the pandemic. Their involvement proved the profound impact well-organised, privately funded institutions can have on public health strategies.

Gates sent a copy of his book, "How to Prevent the Next Pandemic," to WHO Director-General Tedros A. Ghebreyesus in April 2022. Tedros acknowledged the gesture, stressing the need to learn from the COVID-19 pandemic to better prepare for future outbreaks. Gates’ focus on the next potential pandemic raises questions about the likelihood of returning to lockdown scenarios for unknown diseases.

POLITICO and Die Welt’s investigations, which examined thousands of financial disclosures and tax documents, revealed that institutions funded by the Gates Foundation have spent nearly 10 billion dollars since 2020. Gates has consistently advocated for the mass production of vaccines, securing funding, and developing distribution systems to combat pandemics effectively. His Foundation’s deals with 16 pharmaceutical companies were to ensure equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines worldwide.

One of these companies, Johnson & Johnson, provided 1.2 million doses of its COVID-19 vaccine to Ethiopia in August 2021 as part of a donation from the United States. However, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine had faced scrutiny. The U.S. suspended its use three months earlier due to reports of blood clots, and the European Medicines Agency later found it could cause neurodegenerative disease, leading to a ban in Europe.

Despite these concerns, Ethiopia accepted the donation. The decision should have raised pressing questions about the Ethiopian government's policies.

Why did Ethiopia accept a vaccine with known health risks? What has been the impact on the population?

There is no data on the number of Ethiopians who may have been affected by taking the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. A global pharmaceutical giant, Johnson & Johnson conducts extensive testing to ensure the safety and efficacy of its products. However, despite its questionable safety records, the Ethiopian government’s acceptance of the vaccine should urge more stringent evaluation and oversight.

As Trump speculates about potential future lockdowns, it is crucial to consider the Ethiopian government’s approach to pandemic preparedness. The revelations should prompt a reflection of his warnings. If these powerful organisations can overshadow government and WHO policies, it is worth considering the implications of their influence.

What measures will the Abiy administration take to protect the population from vaccination errors?

Mekdes Daba (MD), minister of Health, faces the formidable task of ensuring that past mistakes are not repeated and that public health policies prioritise the safety and well-being of Ethiopians.

PUBLISHED ON Jun 15,2024 [ VOL 25 , NO 1259]

Hintsa Andebrhan (hintsa1974@gmail.com) worked as a researcher with the United Nations Population Fund and IPAS International Ethiopia. Interested in history and politics, his work was on social affairs.

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