This is probably the worst time in history to be 28, male, fit and healthy. You will have to go to the back of the queue when the Covid-19 vaccines are being handed out. Blessed are the middle aged and the elderly for they shall inherit, especially if they have more than one morbidity. Suddenly grey hair will become all the rage, and those with black hair will be dying it white.
Before we go further, let’s ask ourselves if it is politically correct yet to joke about Covid-19? History has shown that it is only when we joke about a disaster – man-made or natural (and this one seems to be both) – that we can claim to have come to terms with it.
Over a million and a half people have died already, but with the news of the imminent vaccine, many have begun to do something for the first time in months: smile. They have stayed indoors for long, and deserve to smile, perhaps even to laugh. A friend called to say how he had "spent all this time lying in," pointing out how much his father had criticised him for doing that in his schooldays. But now he was doing it "to save the world."
Another said he was looking forward to next year because this one "went viral."
The vaccine will soon be here. But that doesn’t mean we can throw caution to the winds. Caution doesn’t travel as easily through air as the virus does.
Everyone wants to know who will receive the vaccines first. No, it will not be distributed in alphabetical order. So what will the order be? Health workers, elderly, those with underlying conditions? There will be some lying conditions too – we are only human – as some try to push their way to the front of the queue.
A recent editorial in The Guardian pointed out: "In the 2009 pandemic, high-income countries bought up all vaccine stocks. The evidence suggests that this time, too, they are snatching up supplies at a rate which could leave poorer countries waiting for years."
This is shortsighted because the virus is no respecter of money or power. If large sections of the population are ignored, we could have the virus going round the world many times.
A US study has shown that those in jails are four times as likely to be infected with coronavirus and twice as likely to die from it as the general population.
So your best chance to go to the head of the queue is to be a 65-year-old prisoner with diabetes and a heart condition. But somehow that doesn’t seem as attractive as being 28, healthy and out of prison.