The cold war is back. The actors are almost the same. In the remote past until the fall of the Berlin wall in 1989, the belligerents in the cold war were mostly, on the one front, the United States (US), Western Europe, Asians countries sympathetic to the US with the support of former political colonies of Britain, France, Portugal and Spain. On the other, were communist and socialist countries led by the Union of Soviet Socialists Republics (USSR). The political cold war pitted capitalism against socialism, and in a way Christianity against other religions.
In 1962, the Cuban missile crisis almost brought the two worlds to a nuclear conflict, in which we would be the proverbial grass in the elephant fight. Until 1989, the world lived with the prospects of an East-West apocalyptic nuclear war. In Africa, wars were fought essentially in the name of the West and East, with the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) covertly participating in the liquidation of perceived supporters of Communism. Patrice Lumumba of the Democratic Republic of the Congo was thus killed and his body reportedly dissolved in sulphuric acid. In Mozambique and Angola, wars were fought for years supported by the two blocs, sometimes through third parties, such as apartheid South Africa.
As the US and its allies celebrated their successes in dismantling the communist bloc, Russia and China were covertly rebuilding their armies, navies, and industries. And they were also busy rethinking and re-planning their economies by making socialism a bit capitalist. In 1949, China was classified amongst the poorest countries but today Mao’s country has moved up the ladder to be the second strongest economy in the world and economists project that it may take over as the strongest economy in the world by 2030 or a little later but the trajectory to the top is almost unstoppable.
The US and its allies are not happy about the scenario; hence the trade wars and the bellicose warlike language between the US-West and China and Russia. America’s real enemy is no longer Russia but China. But combined China and Russian pose a serious threat to the US-West alliance. An atmosphere of mistrust has grown between the Russia-China brotherhood and the US-West bloc.
Enter Covid-19. Under Donald Trump, the US openly accused China of deliberately unleashing the Sars-Cov-2, the virus responsible for the deadly Covid-19 that has killed over 2.5 million people worldwide. An act of war is how some American commentators described the origination of the coronavirus from Wuhan, China to the world.
While the West was busy blaming China for the virus and arguing about individual freedoms, Russia and China were engaged in vaccine research and development. China locked up the country and sanitised the cities. Then Russia announced it had produced an effective covid-19 vaccine, Sputnik V, but the USA and the West were dismissive citing lack of official human trial data. China, too, was busy and it produced the Sinopharm Vaccine.
‘Shocked’ by these progresses, the US-West alliance went into overdrive to produce vaccines. Pfizer BionTech, and Johnson and Jonson vaccines were quickly approved for emergency use. Then AstraZeneca and Moderna came out. AstraZeneca was recommended by the WHO, not necessarily for its efficacy but storability in poor conditions. Through a facility called Covax, formed using pooled money to buy and make covid vaccines available to all worldwide, the AstraZeneca vaccine is being shipped and administered the entire world except in countries aligned to Russian and China.
Now, what is interesting is that countries that still align with the US and its Allies, including most African countries, are taking the AstraZeneca vaccine while those aligned to Russia and China are going for Russian and Chinese vaccines. That is a medical cold war. Russia and China cannot swallow, and are suspicious of, American and Western medicines and vice versa. That is a real cold war. And The Sun, Britain’s yellow press, declared the suspension of AstraZeneca over blood clots in some vaccinated European people a political war over Brexit. That is an intra-European cold war.
And if the BBC and CNN were the only media in the world, you would not know Russian and Chinese vaccines exist and that almost half Latin America and large numbers of Europeans are taking them. And you would not know that Russian and Chinese vaccines are as effective as USA-West vaccines.
And if RT and Chinese TV were the only media, the world would not appreciate the efficaciousness of American and European vaccines. Media are participants in wars, but in this medical cold war they have become even more pronounced in their bias and symbolic annihilation of otherness. And, we, African Bantu, are reduced to mere public relations officers for AstraZeneca claiming the vaccine is safe soon after being jabbed. Bizarre, no? That’s what the cold war reduces the poor to.