The vaccine wars and anti-vax sentiment - SELÇUK TÜRKYILMAZ

The vaccine wars and anti-vax sentiment

The second batch of the Chinese vaccine arrived in Istanbul on Jan. 25. As the number of vaccines brought to Turkey reaches 10 million, we enter a new stage in the pandemic process. The uncertainty and ambiguity in discussions regarding the pandemic have started to be replaced by more educated guessed. More sound predictions have become possible. Surely, nobody is able to provide an absolute date, but the various positive expectations on the agenda indicate that we have not relinquished control during the pandemic. As the imported vaccines start playing a role in stopping and regressing the pandemic, the noose will be tightened around the neck of the coronavirus. Thus, it is not difficult to guess that this will signify overcoming this period with the least damage possible.

Within the scope of the measures taken during the pandemic period, Turkey had also attached importance to the production of local and national vaccines. Vaccine operations commenced immediately with the emergence of the first cases. Making noteworthy progress last year concerning vaccine efforts, and pointing to spring time with regards to mass production is quite important. However, one other development as important as these is the formation of an infrastructure in relation to vaccine efforts in general during this period. Turkey’s vaccine production process was interrupted with the interventions conducted in the country during the Feb. 28 process, and this had become a major weakness in the field through time. It is clear that these weaknesses were also eliminated with the infrastructure operations launched during the pandemic period. The fact that fast and effective decisions can be taken is our most important achievement during this period. These vaccines may be the most important means for fighting the pandemic in many countries. This is because developed countries are now in a relentless vaccine war, similar to the mask wars. Thus, the importance of infrastructure operations will be better understood with the widespread production of the vaccines.

The vaccine war should be considered multidimensionally. The anti-vaccine sentiment must also be included in this war. It was understood as early as the onset of the pandemic that the national struggle should be utilized against the global problem. Even though the concept of globalism is widely used, it was revealed that the big firms of the world, which are generally determinant in global domains, had no authority to assume responsibility. In fact, companies encompassing the entire globe like an intricate web were actually observed to have a role in the campaigns aimed at pacifying the states that assume responsibility. The same ideas were able to suddenly influence the whole world during the pandemic. The great similarity in the ideas presented in the context of anti-vaccine sentiment from East to West, South to North should be elaborated. The concepts of global, globalist, supranational, international, state, local and national correspond to a process too vivid and active to be limited to their dictionary definitions.

The concept of opposition should also be discussed considering this vivid and active process. Developed European states and the U.S. being accused of hoarding vaccines necessitates the re-thinking of concepts such as freedom, which is excessively dependent on economic relations. Freedoms were shaped in accordance with capital’s capacity for activity, and the liberal law understanding was also regulated in accordance with this capacity. The volatility of companies in contrast to the concrete presence of states directly affects the issue of responsibility. We saw, through experience, that politicians are not the only ones with the authority to make decisions. The silence of any conservative or secular, nationalist or pan-Islamist intellectual with respect to the new organizational forms of capital cannot be explained away with intellectual myopia alone. Intellectuals, who see no harm in hiding behind the concept of opposition, remaining silent against global power centers is extremely telling. In an atmosphere where states undertake responsibility in relation to phenomena such as the region, the Muslim world, the Turkic world, nation and Islamic community, it is clear that we are not doomed to “acquired behavior” such as opposition.

It is stated that we will find relief in summer upon the widespread use of vaccines and their efficacy against the pandemic. Local and national vaccines will also start to be widely produced during the same period. This will additionally find a response in the countries and regions that have their hopes pinned on Turkey. The statement, “Nothing will ever be the same,” does not refer to a head-over-heels romantic claim. Opening to discussion the concepts of intellectuals and homeland, besides concepts such as states, global companies, capital, local and national, is an objective situation.


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